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Categories

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

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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category : Topics

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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category : Topics

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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category : Topics

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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category : Topics

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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category : Topics

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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category : Topics

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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category : Topics

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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category : Topics

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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August 26, 2016

First International Standard for Sustainable Procurement Is Almost Here

August 26, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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August 24, 2016

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

John Vidal
Wednesday 24 August 2016 00.01 BST

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at The Guardian.

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August 22, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Thomson Reuters Foundation News.

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August 22, 2016

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

August 22, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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August 21, 2016

Fungi recycle rechargeable lithium-ion batteries

PUBLIC RELEASE: 21-AUG-2016
AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at EurekAlert!

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August 20, 2016

The troubling evolution of corporate greenwashing

Bruce Watson
Saturday 20 August 2016 15.00 BST

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at The Guardian.

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August 19, 2016

India’s solar dream rests on Chinese imports

By Soumya Sarkar, thethirdpole.net
Friday 19 August 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Eco-Business.

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August 18, 2016

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

August 18, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

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

Trainings for roughly 5,500 farmers

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

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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August 18, 2016

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

18 August 2016
Mike Gaworecki

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at MONGABAY.

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August 18, 2016

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

August 18, 2016
by Hannah Furlong

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

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

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

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

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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August 17, 2016

How Australia can cut waste and grow responsibly

By Vaidehi Shah
Wednesday 17 August 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Eco-Business.

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August 17, 2016

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

August 17, 2016
by Tom Szaky

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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August 16, 2016

Hitting the water, waste and energy sweet spot

By Nicholas Walton
Monday 15 August 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Eco-Business.

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August 16, 2016

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

ROZ PIDCOCK
16.08.2016

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

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

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

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

Read more at Carbon Brief.

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August 15, 2016

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

August 15, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

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

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

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

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

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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August 12, 2016

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

by Hannah Furlong
August 12, 2016

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

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

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

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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August 12, 2016

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

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

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

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

Read more at the ICLEI Europe website.

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August 12, 2016

Waste management is prioritised by the public as an environmental behaviour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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August 11, 2016

New EU-funded project aims to improve urban waste management

11 August 2016

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

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

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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August 10, 2016

Pressure mounts on retailers to reform throwaway clothing culture

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

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

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

Read more at The Guardian.

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August 10, 2016

Earth Overshoot Day Continues to Creep Up the Calendar

August 10, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

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

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

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

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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August 10, 2016

Recycle your coffee capsules, support organic farming

By Vaidehi Shah
Wednesday 10 August 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Eco-Business.

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August 8, 2016

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

8 August 2016
Mike Gaworecki

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at MONGABAY.

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August 6, 2016

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

Sam Cowie
Saturday 6 August 2016 08.00 BST

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at The Guardian.

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August 4, 2016

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

by Sustainable Brands
August 4, 2016

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

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

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

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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August 2, 2016

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

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

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

Read more at ICLEI Europe.

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July 30, 2016

England's plastic bag usage drops 85% since 5p charge introduced

Rebecca Smithers
Saturday 30 July 2016 00.01 BST

The number of single-use plastic bags used by shoppers in England has plummeted by more than 85% after the introduction of a 5p charge last October, early figures suggest.

More than 7bn bags were handed out by seven main supermarkets in the year before the charge, but this figure plummeted to slightly more than 500m in the first six months after the charge was introduced, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

The data is the government’s first official assessment of the impact of the charge, which was introduced to help reduce litter and protect wildlife - and the expected full-year drop of 6bn bags was hailed by ministers as a sign that it is working.

The charge has also triggered donations of more than £29m from retailers towards good causes including charities and community groups, according to Defra. England was the last part of the UK to adopt the 5p levy, after successful schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Retailers with 250 or more full-time equivalent employees have to charge a minimum of 5p for the bags they provide for shopping in stores and for deliveries, but smaller shops and paper bags are not included. There are also exemptions for some goods, such as raw meat and fish, prescription medicines, seeds and flowers and live fish.

Read more at The Guardian.

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July 28, 2016

PRIMES project highlights good practice in green public procurement

A series of good practice case studies have been published which show how GPP is being implemented in smaller municipalities. The case studies were developed through the EU funded PRIMES project. They focus on the product categories that have been found to be particularly relevant when it comes to the implementation of green public procurement in smaller municipalities. These include energy efficient street lighting, sustainable construction works, procuring energy efficient ICT products, and green electricity.

PRIMES is an EU funded project that aims to develop basic skills and provide hands-on support for public procurers in order to overcome barriers and implement Green Public Procurement (GPP). The project is offering good GPP practice examples from several smaller and medium sized municipalities of six European countries (Croatia, Denmark, France, Italy, Latvia and Sweden.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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July 26, 2016

900,000 tonnes of CO2 savings achieved by GPP2020 project

26 July 2016

As highlighted by July’s 2016 GPP News Alert, the EU-funded GPP2020 project, through its green procurement activities, predicts an environmental saving of 900,000 tonnes of CO2. The savings estimation amounts to 956,000 barrels of crude oil, or the content of over fifteen oil tankers.

The GPP2020 project has been working with public procurers in Europe to implement innovative, environmentally-friendly tenders within the scope of easing purchases of low-carbon goods and services. Over the course of three years, more than 100 tenders were implemented by over 40 public authorities in nine countries.

Examples of green procurement go from more energy-efficient commercial dishwashers in Germany to the joint procurement of an energy performance contract for Italian hospital. The latter having managed to save, respectively, the equivalent of 207 flights from Barcelona to Ljubljana, and the equivalent of the power needed to light 341 football stadiums each year.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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July 26, 2016

UK cosmetics firm Lush says mission for slavery-clean supply chain never ending

Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday 26 July 2016

As British retailer Lush expands globally, the head of ethical buying at the handmade cosmetics company says he is facing an almost impossible challenge - ensuring all products are free of slave labour and other human rights abuses.

Simon Constantine, the son of two of Lush’s founders, said sales doubling and an almost 50 per cent jump in profits to 31 million pounds ($40 million) since 2013 created the potential for wider social impact by sourcing from more local communities.

But he said this growth had also opened a labyrinth of new problems for privately-owned Lush - which prides itself on products ethically sourced, environmentally friendly and not tested on animals - particularly as it expands in Asia.

Founded on an ethos to do good while doing business and campaigning on social issues, Lush vowed in 2014 to stop using mica from India in cosmetics as child labour was found to be rife in the industry.

The company also refuses to use sandalwood from India for similar worker concerns, instead sourcing from Australia, and has drastically reduced its use of palm oil, concerned about deforestation, human rights abuses and slavery in that industry.

Constantine, known by Lush’s staff as the “guerrilla perfumer” for combining campaigns on issues like fox hunting and gay rights with his role as the firm’s head perfumer, said expanding to around 930 stores in almost 50 countries had thrown up challenges and the best Lush could do was to be totally open about its efforts to be clean.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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July 21, 2016

3 considerations when solving the “stuff conundrum”

By Kevin Moss
Thursday 21 July 2016

We face a conundrum. The population is growing and expected to reach 9 billion people between 2040 and 2050. If world governments and civil society are successful in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, billions of people will rise out of poverty. And 9 billion people consuming as much stuff — food, clothing, gas and merchandise — as today’s average middle class person will simply strip the planet bare.

The answer to this conundrum is to reinvent our business models in the context of this new reality. Improving efficiency is not enough. We need to reengineer our current model of pulling material out of the earth and then tossing waste into landfills.

On July 7, 2016 I moderated a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. hosted by the Embassy of The Netherlands. The panelists represented companies embracing what we call the “circular economy,” or an economic model by which waste is not just avoided, but is completely re-envisaged. They shared three insights on how the circular economy can work for consumers, for businesses and for the planet:

1) Bake circular design into the business model.
For each of these companies, circular design was a priority at the early stages of business model development. gDiapers, a compostable diaper company based in Australia, was founded by a husband and wife after they became parents and were shocked by the amount of diaper waste they produced.

Inashco, a Dutch company, formed to make use of the metals and minerals that can be harvested from the ash of industrial incinerators. And Philips, the lighting manufacturer, is now moving toward providing lighting services rather than individual light bulbs alone. For example, the company holds a 10-year lighting maintenance contract with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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July 21, 2016

Starbucks trials recyclable cups in move to tackle landfill waste

Rebecca Smithers
Thursday 21 July 2016 09.59 BST

Starbucks will trial a fully recyclable coffee cup in its UK shops, which could eventually divert huge numbers of cups away from landfill.

The cup, invented by the entrepreneur and engineer Martin Myerscough, aims to reduce the environmental impact of the 2.5 billion paper coffee cups used in the UK each year. Earlier this year it emerged that only one in 400 were recycled and the rest sent to landfill or incineration. This led to calls for a ban, an idea the government rejected.

Conventional takeaway cups produced in bulk are made from paper but are laminated with plastic, making them difficult to recycle.

The Frugalpac cup, which launches on Thursday, has a thin film liner designed to separate easily from the paper in the recycling process. This leaves 100% paper, which can be recycled.

The cups will feature in a forthcoming television investigation by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. For his next War on Waste documentary, which airs on BBC1 on 28 July, the chef and campaigner has challenged major coffee shop chains to explain why more cups are not recycled and consumers not given better information about environmentally friendly disposal. But Starbucks, one of the UK’s largest coffee chains, is set to be the first retailer to test the product, saying it will trial the Frugalpac cup in some branches.

Read more at The Guardian.

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July 21, 2016

Walmart releases high priority chemical list

Kelly Franklin
21 July 2016

US giant retailer Walmart has revealed a list of eight “high priority chemicals (HPCs)” that it has been targeting to phase out from products on its shelves.

The announcement comes three months after Walmart reported that it had achieved a 95% by weight reduction of these HPCs, from certain products sold in US locations.

The HPCs were selected from Walmart's broader list of priority chemicals, and were identified by such criteria as listing status on authoritative hazard lists, high volume of use and exposure, and consideration of emerging regulations and stakeholder concern.

The HPCs, identified for suppliers to phase out, are:

- toluene;
- dibutyl phthalate (DBP);
- diethyl phthalate (DEP);
- nonylphenol exthoxylates (NPEs, encompassing nine individual Cas numbers);
- formaldehyde;
- butylparaben;
- propylparaben; and
- triclosan (except when present as an active ingredient providing therapeutic benefit, and approved by the FDA New Drug Application process).

In addition to revealing the eight chemicals, Walmart disclosed chemical volume reduction figures and details around ingredient transparency efforts.

Walmart launched its policy on sustainable chemistry in consumables in 2013. It seeks to reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals of concern from personal care, paper, cleaning, pet and baby products it sells, covering approximately 90,000 individual products from 700 suppliers.

Read more at ChemicalWatch.

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July 21, 2016

Personal care firms not coming clean on microbeads, says Greenpeace

posted by Francis Churchill
21 July 2016

Greenpeace is calling for a total ban on the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetic products, saying self imposed pledges are not working.

Microbeads are small pieces of plastic less than five millimeter wide, often added to toothpastes, scrubs and other cosmetic products for their exfoliating effect or for aesthetics.

The particles are too small to be filtered out by sewage treatment plants and as a result are often washed into seas or rivers where they have been found to damage ecosystems. Microbeads have also been found in seafood.

The USA has already banned the sale of products containing microbeads, and Canada is working on legislation to do the same.

A petition to ban the use of microbeads in the UK has reached 330,000.

However, Greenpeace says the brands who claim to be voluntarily ending their use of microbeads are “creating loopholes” by using their own “narrow or confusing definitions of what constitutes a microbead”.

“These definitions can vary from function of the product, rold of the microbead and even the shape of the microbead, creating loopholes that could allow the inclusion of microbeads that don’t fit into these limited definitions,” said Greenpeace.

Greenpeace has also ranked 30 of the largest cosmetic and personal care brands on their efforts to end the use of microbeads.

Each company was given a score out of 400 based on their transparency, their definition of microbeads, the scope of products they are including and the deadline they have set themselves.

Read more at Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS).

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July 21, 2016

TetraPak 'Embracing Value from Natural Capital,' Encouraging CPG Industry to Do the Same

by Sustainable Brands
July 21, 2016

Closing gaps in knowledge and improving understanding about the benefits of renewable materials can have a transformative effect on the economy and the environment, according to findings in a new report from Tetra Pak.

The report, Embracing Value From Natural Capital: Advancing Packaging Solutions that Consumers Want and Companies Can Provide, explores opportunities for the CPG industry to take advantage of growing consumer preference for packaging made with renewable materials, as part of the solution to natural resource scarcity. The report also highlights some hurdles that must be addressed, including cost concerns among companies and the need for greater alignment around ongoing education and outreach to consumers.

Tetra Pak’s report is based on knowledge gathered through the company’s series of Learning Labs held throughout 2015, as part of its Moving to the Front campaign encouraging consumer goods companies to embrace renewable packaging to help address the impacts of resource scarcity on their businesses. Through surveys, dialogues and roundtable discussions with industry leaders and consumers, insights were collected and barriers to using renewable materials — real and perceived — were examined.

The report cites four factors that have hindered increased adoption of renewable materials:

- Communication gaps and misunderstandings around definitions and vocabulary associated with renewable materials;
- Complexity around perceived required transformations of manufacturing infrastructure and supply chain systems;
- Cost concerns that hamper C-level endorsement of investments in changes or new practices and/or technologies; and
- Consumer demand, which is dependent on more education and information.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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July 20, 2016

Second InnProBio factsheet focuses on sustainability

The InnProBio team has issued its second factsheet, entitled Sustainability of bio-based products. This publication explains what the basis for sustainable bio-based products is. Importantly, just being a non-fossil feedstock is not enough, and considerations such as the agricultural practices for the cultivation of the biomass, the energy used in the production process, or the process agents such as chemicals and solvents, need to be taken into account.

This second factsheet contains detailed information about feedstocks, the end-of-life of bio-based products, and how to measure environmental impacts using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Product Carbon Footprint (PCF). There is also a section on certifications and labels that can help public procurers to define their requirements regarding bio-based products in their public tenders.

Read more at the Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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July 20, 2016

Microbeads report reveals loopholes in pledges by biggest firms

Damian Carrington
Wednesday 20 July 2016 12.25 BST

Loopholes in the voluntary pledges by the biggest personal care companies to phase out polluting microbeads have been revealed in a report from Greenpeace, which says a legal ban is needed.

Tiny plastic beads are widely used in toiletries and cosmetics but thousands of tonnes wash into the sea every year, where they harm wildlife and can ultimately be eaten by people, with unknown effects on health. A petition signed by more than 300,000 people asking for a UK ban was delivered to the prime minister in June A US law banning microbeads was passed at the end of 2015.

The Greenpeace report surveyed the world’s top 30 personal care companies and found that even those ranked highest came up short of the standard they deemed acceptable.

One of the leaders, Colgate-Palmolive, said it stopped using of plastic microbeads at the end of 2014, but Greenpeace said the pledge only applied to products used for “exfoliating and cleansing”. Microbeads can be used in moisturisers, makeup, lip balms, shaving foams and other products.

One of the lowest-ranked companies was Estée Lauder, which says it “is currently in the process of removing exfoliating plastic beads in the small number of our products that contain them”. Greenpeace said the company’s commitment is too narrow, applying only to microbeads used for exfoliating, and does not set a deadline.

Read more at The Guardian.

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July 19, 2016

ByFusion: Creating the Building Blocks for Tackling Ocean Waste

by Tom Idle
July 19, 2016

“It’s all about timing,” says Gregor Gomory, CEO of ByFusion, a startup he believes is about to take advantage of a “perfect storm” brewing as the world wakes up to the enormous problem of plastic waste filling up our oceans.

By now, we’ve all heard the statistics: By 2050, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The 4-12 million tonnes of plastic that is spewed into our waters ever year is a problem that can no longer be ignored.

In the throes of developing a process for creating construction blocks out of straw bales – and filled with TV news images of his beautiful country’s ocean-waste mountain – New Zealand-based inventor and engineer Peter Lewis had a light-bulb moment: What if all of this plastic waste could somehow be put to good use? He played around with some ideas and soon realised that plastic boasted similar thermal properties to straw bales and, if presented in the right way, could be used in construction, too. A prototype technology was created, but for a “variety of reasons” the idea stalled due to fundraising issues.

Fast-forward several years and Gomory and his team have well and truly revived the concept and, buoyed by a landscape of renewed interest in environmentalism – the “perfect storm” he describes – are finally realising Lewis’ original vision.

“We purchased the IP and developed a platform to bring the concept to the US and to do things at a much larger scale; our timing was much better,” Gomory says, pointing to a waste management sector still reeling from plummeting oil prices and finding it more expensive to sell recycled plastic than it is for manufacturers to make it.

So now, ByFusion takes plastic waste in any shape or form, feeds it into its machine (kind of like a giant washing machine) and creates blocks, known as RePlast. These are the same size and shape as the conventional concrete blocks most commonly used in US construction projects

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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July 18, 2016

Indonesia’s palm oil permit moratorium to last five years

In April, Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo declared a moratorium on new licenses to establish palm oil plantations, a decision welcomed by advocates for the environment and indigenous rights.

More of the details have since emerged. On Friday, the chief economics minister announced that the government was preparing to formalize the moratorium by issuing a presidential instruction, one of several forms the policy could have taken.

The moratorium will last five years, Darmin Nasution said after a meeting with cabinet colleagues.

“We want to reorganize the lands already planted with oil palm, including by increasing production and replanting,” Nasution said.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry has already moved to follow up on the moratorium announcement. In May, the ministry, which must approve the release of land from Indonesia’s vast forest zone so that it can be developed, rejected all outstanding requests to plant oil palm there, sparing a total of 851,000 hectares (3,300 square miles) from conversion.

Read more at MONGABAY.

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July 15, 2016

Montreal Joins the Global Lead City Network on Sustainable Procurement

The city of Montreal, Canada, has signed the commitment to join the Global Lead City Network on Sustainable Procurement, a group of 13 cities engaged to drive a transition to sustainable consumption and production by implementing sustainable and innovation procurement.

Montréal has already in place a Community Sustainable Development Plan, with the objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, keeping families in the city, consuming less water, improving the quality of runoff water, recovering the waste, making the city a leader in green economy, increasing the number of environmental certifications, improving its green infrastructures and showing solidarity, demonstrating equity and handling succession planning.

Furthermore, the STM (Société de Transport de Montréal) released its sustainable procurement tools to the public domain. The public corporation aims to have 90% of its contracts include sustainable development criteria by 2020. In 2014, the STM consolidated its sustainable procurement approach by publishing guidelines and two handbooks to facilitate the application.

For more information, visit glcn-on-sp.org.

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July 14, 2016

Trending: Yet More Actions to Redistribute, Reduce, Recycle Food Waste in the UK

by Sustainable Brands
July 14, 2016

Found to be the worst-performing European country in terms of food waste in a 2015 study, the United Kingdom (UK) certainly seems to be setting a new course. Over the past year, numerous initiatives have been launched in the fight against food waste, including a TV show, zero-waste restaurants and ales, a one-of-a-kind Mr Potato Head and even a town for testing waste-reducing ideas. And just in the past week, a campaign to boost local food waste-to-energy was launched, a five-point action plan for reducing household and commercial food waste was released, and a grocer expanded its redistribution trials for frozen and perishable food.

While respectively 56 and 86 percent of communities in Scotland and Wales have separate food collection, England’s collection rate sits at just 31 percent. A new report from food waste recycling company Bio Collectors notes that only 18 of London’s 33 boroughs (just under 55 percent) are collecting food waste separately. What’s more, only half of the capital’s food waste is being treated in the city, while its anaerobic digestion (AD) plants are currently operating at just 50 percent capacity. Sending London’s food waste to areas such as Warwickshire to be treated is creating an extra 206 kilograms in carbon emissions per journey, according to the report.

In response, Bio Collectors launched a campaign urging London councils to turn to local AD plants. With only four biomethane and combined heat and power (CHP) plants located within the capital, the report asserts that more should be done by authorities and businesses to ensure that they are running at full capacity before waste is transported out. Bio Collectors suggested that this discrepancy is creating a £50 million burden for waste authorities, while also generating around 2.1 million in extra carbon emissions.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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July 14, 2016

Ben & Jerry's and Ford Are Embracing Climate Disruption - and Your Company Needs to, as Well

by Tim Greiner
July 14, 2016

Is your business embracing the disruptive forces of a low-carbon world as Ford and Ben & Jerry’s are? Over the next 10 years, climate change will drive industrial disruption at rates that previously seemed unimaginable. In response, policy makers must come to terms with the need to keep the mean global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Hyperbole, you say? We are already seeing rampant climate-induced change in every corner of the economy. Just look at the food, transportation, and energy sectors. According to the IPCC, climate change has already reduced wheat, rice and corn mean yield in tropical and temperate zones and will continue to do so. New U.S. CAFE rules are driving innovation in the automotive sector. The largest U.S. coal company recently filed for bankruptcy. These changes will be as big or bigger than the technology-induced disruptions at the turn of the century, such as new business models (Amazon), new industries (smartphones), and democratized information (Google).

Businesses intent solely on driving manufacturing efficiencies in their operations and tweaking logistics and packaging will not take us to the 80-90 percent GHG reductions needed by 2050. Companies limiting themselves to these approaches will find themselves displaced by startups with new models or competitors with a more comprehensive strategy based on product innovation.

Read more Sustainable Brands.

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July 14, 2016

Just 14% of firms have made proper sustainability pledges, says WWF

posted by Andrew Allen

A mere handful of leading consumer goods companies and retailers have taken meaningful steps to sustainably source soft commodities such as paper or soy, a report claims.

A study by WWF found only 14% of consumer goods companies had made measurable time-bound commitments to sustainably source palm oil, paper, soy, sugarcane or farmed fish according to standards recommended by WWF.

Slow Road to Sustainability analysed 256 consumer goods companies representing combined annual sales of more than $3.5tn globally, including Kimberly-Clark, Waitrose, Unilever, Kao Corporation and Royal Ahold.

All were members of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), the trade body representing consumer goods companies.

Only 22 of companies, or 9%, have made measurable and time-bound commitments to source all or the majority of the commodities needed for their business according to other standards WWF considered credible.

In many cases commitments were imprecise, leading to questions of transparency.

Only 42% of the companies publish sustainability information in their annual report or a separate sustainability report.

Read more at Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS).

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July 14, 2016

Scientists call for better plastics design to protect marine life

Fiona Harvey
Thursday 14 July 2016 15.25 BST

Plastics should be better designed to encourage recycling and prevent wasteful single-use containers finding their way into our oceans, where they break up into small pieces and are swallowed by marine animals, scientists said on Thursday.

This could be as effective as a ban on microbeads, proposed by green campaigners as a way of dealing with the rising levels of microplastic waste - tiny pieces of near-indestructible plastic materials - that are harming marine life.

Richard Thompson, professor of marine biology at Plymouth University, told an experts’ briefing in London that better design was a key element in combating the rapidly growing problem: “The irony is that if most of these materials were better designed, they could be better recycled, and we could capture them. That would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We need to change the way we do this.”

As an example, he pointed to plastic bottles - clear bottles have a recycling value five times higher than those that have been dyed, as the pigment is hard to remove. But the pigments serve no useful purpose other than perceived aesthetics. “They are there because of marketing.”

Thompson added: “You can’t ban microplastics [because they are made up of many different sources of plastics, which are broken down in oceans]. You can ban microbeads, but this should not be seen as the end of action [to tackle the problem].”

Microbeads, which are used in cosmetics and hygiene products such as toothpaste, have been found to affect the growth of fish larvae and persist in the guts of creatures, from mussels to fish, that swallow them.

Read more at the Guardian.

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July 13, 2016

Call to Action- Acting Together for Our Future Sustainability: The 12th Asia-Pacific Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production Convened in Cambodia

Siem Reap, Cambodia. The 12th Asia-Pacific Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production (APRSCP) entitled "Call to Action- Acting Together for our Future Sustainability," was held from 12-13 July 2016 at the Apsara Angkor Hotel. Around 300 participants from Asia-Pacific countries representing governments, the private sector, civil society groups, and academia were in attendance.

"There is growing awareness both in Asia and in Europe of the need to take environmental issues better into account when producing and consuming. This round table will contribute both to a change in the culture of consumption and to implementation of the practical steps that are urgently required," said H.E. Mr. George Edgar, Ambassador of the European Union to the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The meeting was organized by the Asia Pacific Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production (APRSCP) and was hosted by the Kingdom of Cambodia's Ministry of Environment, in partnership with the International Institute for Scientific Research (IISR). The 12th APRSCP was supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) through the SWITCH-Asia Regional Policy Support Component (RPSC) of the European Union (EU).

Read more this article at SCP Clearinghouse.
For more information about the 12th APRSCP, visit http://www.aprscp.net/12th-APRSCP/index.html.

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July 13, 2016

UK urges chemical firms to press on with 2018 registrations

Following the UK’s decision on 23 June to leave the EU, the government is seeking to ensure that there will still be a high level of compliance with the 2018 REACH registration deadline, and that potential disruption to supply chains is kept to a minimum.

The environment ministry (Defra) and the Health and Safety Executive, which is the UK REACH competent authority, will carry out a number of projects, focusing on the registration deadline, that are additional to its usual business.

These will include research, analysis and targeting of issues and messages, capacity building, SME tools and communications.

The projects will aim to ensure there is a good level of awareness, among chemical manufacturers and importers, of their registration obligations, and that companies understand the need to act early and to work with others to share data and costs. SMEs, which are expected to account for a high proportion of registrants, will be paid particular attention.

Another goal is to minimise the amount of animal testing that is commissioned and to promote alternative test methods, through building understanding among laboratories and pre-registrants.

In addition, government advisory body the UK Chemicals Stakeholder Forum has established a REACH 2018 subgroup, which will help to identify substances and sectors where potential concerns may arise.

Read more at Chemical Watch.

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July 13, 2016

Majority of Global Seafood Consumers Putting Sustainability Concerns Over Price, Brand

by Sustainable Brands
July 13, 2016

The largest-ever global analysis of attitudes toward seafood consumption, released today, has found that sustainability is a key driver for seafood purchases: Across 21 countries, sustainability is rated more highly than price and brand, with nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of seafood consumers agreeing that in order to save the oceans, shoppers should only consume seafood from sustainable sources. More than half (54 percent) said they are prepared to pay more for a certified sustainable seafood product.

This is in contrast to purchasing motivations among shoppers of other fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs), where price and brand typically outrank sustainabilityin driving purchase decisions.

The consumer perceptions survey was carried by independent research and insights company GlobeScan, on behalf of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Over 16,000 seafood consumers in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA (with at least 600 respondents from each country) took part in the research.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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July 13, 2016

Action to cut food waste gains momentum across Europe

France’s ban on supermarkets throwing away unwanted food has led to greater calls for laws on food waste, campaigners say

Arthur Neslen in Brussels
Wednesday 13 July 2016 07.00 BST

Efforts to force supermarkets and other businesses to waste less food are gaining momentum following France’s ban on supermarkets throwing out unwanted food, according to campaigners.

Earlier this month MEPs voted 600 to 48 to bring forward laws to end unfair trading practices by supermarkets, many of which lead to overproduction and food being wasted.

Binding laws to halve food waste across the continent by 2030 were also demanded in a separate report by the parliament’s environment committee, after the European commission ditched food waste targets from a draft law last year.

Backing for the report in an upcoming plenary vote would set the scene for a showdown with the commission and EU nations, as parliamentary consent is needed to pass the package.

Simona Bonafe, the report’s author, told the Guardian: “While 800 million people in the world go hungry every day, nearly 100m tonnes of Europe’s food is wasted each year. This is a paradox of our time that is no longer bearable. At last, we have the opportunity to structure our legislation to prevent food waste in the EU.”

The EU currently has no legally binding food waste targets but Norbert Kurilla, the environment minister for Slovakia, which holds the bloc’s rotating presidency, was adamant that they were needed.

Read more at the Guardian.

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July 13, 2016

Chile’s Capital Wins 2017 Sustainable Transport Award

SANTIAGO, Chile, July 13, 2016 (ENS) – Chile’s capital city, Santiago, has just been awarded the honor of hosting Mobilize 2017, the new annual Sustainable Transport Summit put on by the New York-based multinational Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

Over the past year, Santiago has made major improvements in pedestrian space, cycling, and public transit that earned it the ITDP’s recognition.

Established in 2005, the Sustainable Transport Award has been given each year to a city that has implemented innovative sustainable transportation projects in the preceding year.

The award recognizes “profound leadership, vision, and achievement in sustainable transportation and urban livability,” says the ITDP on its website.

Such strategies improve mobility for all residents, reduce transportation greenhouse and air pollution emissions, and improve safety and access for cyclists and pedestrians. Finalists are selected by an international committee of development experts and organizations working on sustainable transport.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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July 13, 2016

Singapore to introduce legislation on sustainable packaging

By Vaidehi Shah
Wednesday 13 July 2016

Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) will be introducing mandatory requirements for companies to use sustainable resources in packaging and reduce packaging waste in the next three to five years, the country’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli announced on Tuesday.

The agency is still deciding on what forms the regulations could take, but preliminary ideas include requiring companies to submit annual reports on how much packaging it uses, to develop waste reduction plans, or to meet recycling targets.

In an opening address at the 3R Packaging Awards ceremony at the sidelines of the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore 2016, Masagos noted that the country produced 1.73 million tonnes of domestic waste last year, and one-third of this was from packaging.

While the Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA) - a voluntary initiative by NEA, industry and waste management associations, companies, and non-government organisations to reduce waste - has made “commendable” efforts since it was signed in 2007, much more work is needed, he said.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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July 8, 2016

Turning Olympic food waste into nutritious meals for the needy

08 July 2016, Rome-Every year around one-third of worldwide food production is wasted or lost around the globe, entailing the simultaneous loss of all the resources - water, soil, agricultural inputs, feed - that went into its production.

The environmental impact of food loss and waste is enormous: A recent FAO study calculated that global food waste would, if calculated as a country, be the world's third-largest greenhouse gas emitter. Meanwhile, a third of all cultivated soils produce food that will never be eaten.

The good news is that initiatives to combat this trend are proliferating at the global level. Among these is the "Reffetto-Rio" project, an initiative presented in Rome today in the presence of Director-General José Graziano da Silva and Maurizio Martina, Italy's minister of agricultural policies.

Thanks to the "Reffetto-Rio" project, surplus food from the Olympic Village during the Olympic Games about to commence in Rio de Janeiro will be recovered and turned into nutritious meals for distribution to the neediest. At the same time, cooking and nutrition classes will be given for the benefit of youth and those in difficulty. Volunteers have been invited to participate alongside 45 chefs from around the world in this project.

The initiative was conceived by Massimo Bottura, an internationally-renowned chef and founder of "Food for Soul", along with David Hertz, a chief and founder of the "Gastromotiva" non-profit organization. Both chefs were present at today's event.

Read more at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States website.

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July 8, 2016

Vietnamese labour law: there's an app for that

posted by Francis Churchill
8 July 2016

A free smartphone app designed to make Vietnam’s labour laws accessible to factory management and workers has been launched.

Created by Better Work Vietnam, a partnership between the International Labour Organisation and the International Finance Corporation, the app allows users to read Better Work’s labour law guide in both Vietnamese and English.

The guide lets users navigate through the law by sections of interest, search by key terms and save or share articles.

It covers all major areas of labour law such as rules on the minimum working age, trade unions, collective bargaining, discrimination and forced labour, among other things.

“We thought bringing the guide straight to their fingertips through a smartphone app would be an ideal way to boost its accessibility and help users navigate through the various chapters of the law more easily,” said David Williams, technical officer at Better Work Vietnam.

Williams said factory management, human resources and compliance teams were already using the app.

Read more at Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS).

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July 8, 2016

Portfolio of Cradle to Cradle Certified Materials Launched for the Fashion Industry

Fashion designers have long asked for a place to find materials they know are healthier for people and the planet — and now they have one. The new Fashion Positive Materials Collection, which debuted this week, includes 39 materials for fashion applications that are Cradle to Cradle Certified or have received a Material Health Certificate, which at higher levels of certification ensures safe materials suitable for circular design.

“For many brands, designers and suppliers, it’s a long journey to circular fashion. Fashion Positive meets our members wherever they are on that path and provides the leadership, the vision and methodology to assist our partners in the transition to circularity; the Materials Collection is a big step in that direction,” said Lewis Perkins, the President of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

The Fashion Positive Materials Collection is an online portfolio that includes fabrics and yarns, as well as buttons, labels, elastic and even dyes for clothing and accessories. Each entry includes information on available sizes, weights, colors and a range of other specifications. Updated details about available stock and custom ordering make choosing the right material straightforward.

“Materials are also assessed against our Standard, so not only are they potentially circular, they are also making a positive impact right now. To obtain Cradle to Cradle Certification, materials are assessed against requirements in 5 standard categories ensuring holistic environmental quality that goes beyond circularity,” Perkins added.

The 5 categories include material health, material reuse, renewable energy, water stewardship and social fairness. 32 of the total 39 materials in the Collection are Cradle to Cradle Certified, with a Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum Certification indicating how the material scored across those categories. All, however, have been assessed and improved based on the material health category requirements in the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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July 6, 2016

Trending: Enter Plastic Waste; Exit Stronger, Safer Materials

This week, we examine two innovations that not only divert plastic waste but turn it into stronger, more beneficial materials: IBM has discovered a way to convert polycarbonates into plastics safe for water purification, fiber optics and medical equipment; while shredded plastic waste is helping to create more durable, weather-resistant roads in Chennai, India.

“Polycarbonates are common plastics in our society – especially in consumer electronics in the form of LED screens, smartphones and Blu-rays, as well as everyday eyeglass lenses, kitchen utensils and household storage gear,” explained Gavin O. Jones, a research staff member at IBM Research – Almaden in San Jose, California. “We now have a new way of recycling to improve how this prominent substance impacts the world’s health and environment.”

Citing the American Chemical Society, IBM says that the world generates more than 2.7 million tons of polycarbonates every year. Over time, polycarbonates decompose and leach BPA, a chemical that, in 2008, caused retailers to pull plastic baby bottles from store shelves due to concerns about the potential effects of BPA on the brain. Since then, BPA has continued to be a cause for concern in materials such as cash register receipts and food can linings.

IBM research scientists added a fluoride reactant, a base and heat to old CDs to produce a new plastic with temperature and chemical resistance superior to the original material. The company claims that when the powder is reconstructed into new forms, its strength prevents the decomposition process that causes BPA leaching. Thus, the new, one-step chemical process can convert polycarbonates into plastics safe for water purification, fiber optics and medical equipment.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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July 1, 2016

Enhanced waste-management practices reduce carbon emissions and support lower landfill taxes

Landfills are the oldest form of waste management, but have a large environmental impact. In the EU, landfilling is now a last resort for waste management and strictly limited, and any waste that has to be landfilled must be sent to sites that comply with the Directive on the landfill of waste.

One way to reduce the environmental effects of landfills is to impose a tax on their use. Landfill taxes are a form of sustainable materials management — which is a component of the EU’s flagship initiative to achieve resource efficiency by 2020. Another form of sustainable materials management is ‘Enhanced Waste Management’ (EWM), which aims to process waste into useful products. This is a relatively new concept in Europe and not yet part of the Waste Framework Directive.

Both mechanisms could provide environmental and economic benefits, but they can be difficult to balance. This is because high landfill taxes can reduce the incentive for EWM, as taxation reduces the amount of landfilled material available for conversion into useful products and mitigates the issue of scarce landfill space — thus making EWM less necessary. Likewise, as EWM reduces the amount of waste that is permanently landfilled, it also reduces the landfill scarcity issue, making landfill taxes more ‘redundant’ (because it postpones the point of landfill capacity exhaustion), the researchers assert. EWM could thus reduce the necessity of landfill taxes, contribute to a circular economy and have environmental benefits.

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.

01 July 2016
Issue 461

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June 30, 2016

New World Bank Procurement Framework Promotes Strengthened National Procurement Systems

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at The World Bank website.

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June 29, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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June 29, 2016

WWF launches new Singapore alliance on sustainable palm oil

By Jessica Cheam
Wednesday 29 June 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Eco-Business.

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June 27, 2016

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

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

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

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

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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June 25, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at MONGABAY.

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June 24, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at: "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service, edited by SCU, The University of the West of England, Bristol.
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/chemicals_risk_assessment_evidence_evaluation_methods_nine_eu_regulations_460na1_en.pdf

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June 21, 2016

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

By: Susan Bird
June 21, 2016

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

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

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

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

Read more at Care2.

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June 20, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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June 20, 2016

Green homes are only as green as their users

By Cameron Jewell, The Fifth Estate
Monday 20 June 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Eco-Business.

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June 17, 2016

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

by Nithin Coca
June 17, 2016

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

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

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

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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June 14, 2016

Plastic debris can escape Pacific ‘garbage patch’

14/06/16
Tania Rabesandratana

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at SciDev.Net.

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June 14, 2016

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

Elaine Ramirez
Tuesday 14 June 2016 05.00 BST

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at The Guardian.

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June 13, 2016

In unprecedented move, Michelin adopts zero deforestation for rubber sourcing

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at MONGABAY.

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June 13, 2016

Cities encouraged to join Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition

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

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

Read more at the Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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June 11, 2016

Maersk Slammed for Sidestepping EU Ship Recycling Law

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

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

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

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

Read more at Environment News Service.

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June 9, 2016

Hundreds of Cities Commit to Emissions Limits

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Environment News Service.

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June 8, 2016

Congress Strengthens U.S. Chemical Safety Law

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Environment News Service.

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June 8, 2016

MPs attack loopholes in cosmetic industry's microbead phase out

Damian Carrington
Wednesday 8 June 2016 17.34 BST

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at The Guardian.

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June 8, 2016

Looking at sustainable packaging from a systems perspective

By Padmakshi Rana
Wednesday 8 June 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Eco-Business.

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June 6, 2016

ICLEI celebrates 20 years of work on Sustainable Public Procurement

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit the SP Platform.

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June 6, 2016

Unclear if France will revisit ‘discriminatory’ palm oil tax

6th June 2016 / Loren Bell

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

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

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

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

Read more at Mongabay.

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June 6, 2016

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

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

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

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

Read more at the WBCSD website.

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June 3, 2016

New technique developed to recycle indium from waste LCD screens

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

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

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

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

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

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June 1, 2016

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

By Loren Bell, Mongabay.com
Wednesday 1 June 2016

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

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

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

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

Read more at Eco-Business.

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May 31, 2016

The Toxic Toll of Indonesia's Battery Recyclers

Richard C. Paddock
PUBLISHED MAY 31, 2016

KEBASEN, INDONESIA Smoke billows from the chimney of the small battery smelter, carrying particles of lead, plastic, and sulfuric acid into the air. More dense smoke pours from the open furnace into the smelter’s main room, threatening to engulf two workers as they shovel the lead cells of car batteries into the glowing fire.

The gray cloud drifts over the countryside in Central Java, landing on rice fields and villages. Nearby residents complain that the haze burns their eyes, makes them dizzy, and gives them headaches.

“We are upset about the smoke,” says Samsuri, 40, who lives in the farming village of Tegalwangi, about half a mile from the recycling compound, run by Lut Putra Solder. “It makes it difficult to breathe and sometimes makes us sick.”

The Garuda Jaya plant in Kebasen is one of three battery smelters operating at the compound on the outskirts of the Central Java city of Tegal. None has scrubbers on the chimneys to trap the lead dust or other hazardous materials. Nor do they have permits to operate, authorities say.

Smelters like this are notorious for emitting high concentrations of lead and other toxic substances into the air. Lead, a major component of vehicle batteries, has long been known to harm brains, with even low doses linked to learning and behavioral problems in children.

Read more at National Geographic.

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May 30, 2016

Can Danish Enzyme Technology Help Alleviate Asia’s Waste Problems?

Today, large quantities of CO2 are emitted when we extract raw materials for the production of consumer goods. After use, most of these products end up in landfills as wasted resources. Among other drawbacks, this linear, take-make-waste system harms local environments and economies, and exacerbates climate change.

An enzyme-based technology called REnescience extracts valuable resources from waste, thereby reducing CO2 emissions. The Danish company behind the invention, DONG Energy, is sending a mobile test plant to Malaysia to examine the potential of the technology to help solve the country’s waste challenges.

According to the World Bank, waste volumes worldwide will have increased by 70 percent in 2025 compared to 2012. This increase will be significant in countries such as Malaysia, where the capacity to handle waste is already limited. The REnescience technology is able to sort waste for recycling, thereby turning a problem into a resource.

That is why DONG Energy sees a large potential for the technology in Malaysia, as well as in other Asian countries.

Thomas Dalsgaard, EVP at DONG Energy, says: "Malaysia is a very interesting market for our technology as there’s a growing need for exploiting the resources in the increasing waste volumes.”

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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May 29, 2016

Florida brewery creates edible beer holders to save marine life

Maxine Perella
Sunday 29 May 2016 08.00 BST

Instead of killing animals, our packing design will provide them with food, explains Saltwater Brewery co-founder Chris Gove of his company’s biodegradable, edible beer pack rings.

The rings, made from wheat and barley waste – natural byproducts of the beer-making process – are being touted by the Florida-based microbrewery as a pragmatic solution to repurposing waste in the brewing process. It also hopes they can help combat the growing problem of ocean plastic pollution.

The packaging starts to disintegrate within two hours of being in the ocean, which prevents fish or other sea animals getting stuck in the rings. They take two to three months to completely disappear in the ocean, and it takes a similar amount of time to compost if left on the beach, although this varies slightly depending on soil, composition, humidity and temperature.

While alternatives to traditional plastic rings exist – PakTech’s recycled plastic can carrier, which is 100% recyclable, and Fishbone’s cardboard holder, for example– these don’t reduce the risk of entangling wildlife or being ingested.

Saltwater Brewery decided to collaborate with advertising agency We Believers to engineer an alternative.

Read more The Guardian.

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May 28, 2016

At UN Environment Assembly Convening in Nairobi: Governments Agree to 25 Landmark Resolutions to Drive Sustainability Agenda and Paris Climate Agreement

Nairobi, 27 May 2016 - The world's environment ministers, gathered at the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) in Nairobi on late Friday, passed far reaching decisions on issues such as marine litter, the illegal trade in wildlife, air pollution, chemicals and waste, and sustainable consumption and production - which are an integral part of the global action needed to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, "The environment has always been, and will always be, at the heart of humanity's prosperity. World nations recognized this in 2015 with global accords, such as the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

"What we have seen in the last five days is the same political will and passion for change that brought about the groundbreaking international agreements of 2015. With global consensus affirmed, we are taking steps to bring about a real transformation of our development models. The United Nations Environment Assembly is providing leadership and guidance the world needs to take these unprecedented steps.

"In the decisions made here at this assembly for the environment, we see a significant directional shift that will inform Ministers' decisions in their home countries. We will now need to see the bold and decisive commitment observed at UNEA transmitted at the national level to drive forward the 2030 Agenda and ensure a brighter future for people and planet."

Thousands of delegates from 174 countries, 120 at the ministerial level, took part in UNEA-2 and associated side events on issues of global importance, including the Sustainable Innovation Expo and the Science-Policy Forum.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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May 27, 2016

Health sector adopts global chemicals management resolution

The World Health Assembly – the high level meeting of the World Health Organisation (WHO) – has adopted a resolution on the role of the health sector in the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (Saicm) towards the 2020 goal and beyond.

Argentina, Canada, Monaco, Panama, Thailand, the US, Uruguay, and EU member states proposed the resolution. It will see a roadmap prepared over the next year. This will outline key activities where the health sector can contribute towards:

>> achieving the 2020 goal of minimising the negative impacts of chemicals on human health and the environment; and
>> the relevant targets of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

Read more at Chemical Watch.

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May 26, 2016

La Trobe University first in Australia to divest from fossil fuels

By Vaidehi Shah
Thursday 26 May 2016

Melbourne’s La Trobe University on Wednesday announced that it will end its investments in major coal, oil, and gas companies over the next five years, becoming the first university in Australia to do so.

The university said it had recently endorsed a plan to phase out its investments in companies which have a strong involvement in fossil fuels, and will also be more transparent about the carbon footprint of companies under its portfolio.

John Dewar, La Trobe University’s vice-chancellor, said in a statement that “we are committed to divesting from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies ranked by the carbon content of their fossil fuel reserves within five years.”

He added: “At La Trobe, we believe economic profitability and environmental sustainability are not mutually exclusive.”

The university is working with new fund managers to reduce the carbon exposure of its investments, and will publish annual reports of its divestment progress.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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May 26, 2016

Ikea and Nestle call for new EU laws to cut truck emissions

Arthur Neslen
Thursday 26 May 2016 13.19 BST

An alliance of companies including Ikea, Nestle and Heathrow airport have called on the EU to pass new laws cutting truck emissions within two years, to meet promises made at the Paris climate conference.

Heavy duty vehicles make up less than 5% of Europe’s road traffic but chug out a quarter of the sector’s carbon emissions – more than airplanes – and their fuel efficiency has hardly changed in two decades.

The EU’s climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete has said that fuel efficiency targets for vehicles after 2020 are “essential” and a commission paper in July is expected to signal that they will be brought forward.

In a letter to the EU president Jean-Claude Juncker, seen by the Guardian, the clean corporate alliance says that CO2 test procedures and emissions monitoring alone will not kickstart the market for low carbon freight transport.

Read more at The Guardian.

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May 26, 2016

BREAKING: Norway commits to zero deforestation

26th May 2016 / Mike Gaworecki

Norway is a leader in funding forest conservation around the world (see here, here, and here, for example), and has also taken a stand for the human rights of forest communities. But now the country has announced that it will walk the walk itself.

In what’s being hailed as a groundbreaking move, the Norwegian parliament pledged today that the government’s public procurement policy will be going deforestation-free.

The Rainforest Foundation Norway, which has worked for a number of years to secure a zero deforestation commitment from the Norwegian government in regard to its supply chains, said in a statement that “Norway is the first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation in its public procurement.”

The Norwegian parliament’s Standing Committee on Energy and the Environment made the pledge in a recommendation on the government’s Action Plan on Nature Diversity. The Committee requested in the recommendation that the government “impose requirements to ensure that public procurements do not contribute to deforestation of the rainforest.”

Further details on what those requirements will actually entail will have to be elaborated upon by the government as a follow-up to the decision made today by the parliament, according to Rainforest Foundation Norway.

Read more at MONGABAY.

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May 26, 2016

Credit Ratings Embrace More Systematic Consideration of Environmental and Social Governance

London, 26 May 2016- Leading credit ratings agencies are joining an initiative to look at Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) in a more systematic way, the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) announced today. To kick-start that initiative, 100 investors managing $16 trillion assets under management, and six credit rating agencies have signed a Statement on ESG in Credit Ratings and Analysis.
The credit ratings agencies taking part in the initiative include S&P Global Ratings, Moody's, Dagong, Scope, RAM Ratings and Liberum Ratings.

The launch of the Statement marks the start of a two-year programme funded by The Rockefeller Foundation to bring investors and credit ratings agencies together in a series of 'ratings forums' around the world to discuss the links between ESG and creditworthiness. The project has been initiated by the PRI with support from the UNEP Inquiry and a committee of PRI signatories, which include some of the world's largest fixed income investors.

"Credit rating agencies are a crucial part of the puzzle for identifying systemic ESG risks in debt capital markets," said Fiona Reynolds, managing director of the PRI. "By signing this Statement, these organisations are affirming their commitment to more systematic and transparent consideration of sustainability and governance factors in credit ratings and analysis."

"This joint statement by ratings agencies and investors marks another important step towards a sustainable financial system," said Nick Robins, co-director of the United Nations Environment Programme Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System (UNEP Inquiry).

Read more at UNEP NEWS CENTRE.

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May 25, 2016

Forget Incremental Improvements: 40 Companies, Cities Working to Activate New Plastics Economy

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative kicks off today with an inaugural workshop that brings together more than 40 leading companies including Amcor, Coca-Cola, The Dow Chemical Company, DuPont, Indorama Ventures, Marks & Spencer, MARS, Natureworks, Novamont, Sealed Air, SUEZ, Unilever and Veolia, as well as front-running cities such as Copenhagen, and London’s Waste and Recycling Board.

Building on the recommendations of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics report, launched at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos in January, the three-year initiative is taking a concrete first step towards the design of a plastics system grounded in circular economy principles. The report, which attracted global media attention, arguably provides the first comprehensive view of the global plastic packaging value chain, highlighting its contributions but also revealing significant drawbacks. With material value loss running at $80-120 billion a year in the industry and negative environmental externalities costing at least $40 billion a year — a figure greater than the plastic packaging industry’s profit pool — the opportunity for the global economy of transforming the system is clear (not to mention Trucost’s recent estimate that scaling up companies’ use of recovered plastics and alternative materials could deliver additional environmental savings of $3.5 billion).

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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May 23, 2016

Biodegradable plastic 'false solution' for ocean waste problem

Adam Vaughan in Nairobi
Monday 23 May 2016 11.47 BST

Biodegradable plastic water bottles and shopping bags are a false solution to the ubiquitous problem of litter in the oceans, the UN’s top environmental scientist has warned.

Most plastic is extremely durable, leading to large plastic debris and “microplastics” to spread via currents to oceans from the Arctic to the Antarctic, a UN report published on Monday found.

Greener plastics that breakdown in the environment have been marketed as a sustainable alternative that could reduce the vast amount of plastic waste that ends up in the sea after being dumped. But Jacqueline McGlade, chief scientist at the UN Environment Programme, told the Guardian that these biodegradable plastics were not a simple solution.

“It’s well-intentioned but wrong. A lot of plastics labelled biodegradable, like shopping bags, will only break down in temperatures of 50C and that is not the ocean. They are also not buoyant, so they’re going to sink, so they’re not going to be exposed to UV and break down,” she said.

Speaking at the the UN environment assembly in Nairobi, where 170 countries are meeting and expected to pass a resolution on microplastics later this week, she added: “We have detected plastics in places as far away as the Chagos Islands [in the Indian Ocean]. Even if you are remote, you are not safe from it.”

More than 300m tonnes of plastic were produced in 2014 and that is expected to swell to nearly 2,000m tonnes by 2050 on current trends, the UN report said. While the exact amount that reaches the oceans is not known, the report concluded: “plastic debris, or litter, in the ocean is now ubiquitous.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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May 19, 2016

39 Italian municipalities are now 100 per cent renewable

By David Thorpe, The Fifth Estate
Thursday 19 May 2016

Thirty-nine Italian municipalities are now meeting 100 per cent of their energy demands with renewable energy, proving that it is fully possible in this type of climate for urban areas to completely decarbonise and provide cheap energy for citizens and businesses.

The change over the last 10 years has been remarkable. Italy as a whole has brought its consumption of renewable energy up from 15 per cent to 35.5 per cent. This has been largely due to a distributed production model with the addition of over 850,000 generation plants all over the country.

It has brought about an increase in clean production of 57.1 terawatt hours a year. The number of municipalities with at least one plant supplying renewable energy has increased from 356 to 8047.

In 2660 of these municipalities, the production of clean electricity often exceeds that consumed, allowing them to export to neighbouring areas for profit.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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May 17, 2016

Global warming will hit poorer countries hardest, research finds

Fiona Harvey
Tuesday 17 May 2016 00.49 BST

New evidence that poorer countries will suffer the worst effects of climate change has shown that the number of hot days in tropical developing countries is likely to increase markedly as global warming takes hold.

It has long been expected that poor people would bear the brunt of climate change, largely because so many more of the world’s poorest live in tropical latitudes whereas, wealthier people tend to live in more temperate regions.

This is inverse to the generally accepted responsibility for climate change, which falls mainly on rich countries that benefited early on from industry, and thus have historically high emissions, compared with poorer countries that have only begun catching up in the past few decades.

It was only in 2014 that China’s per capita emissions caught up with those of people in the EU, even after years of above-average economic growth in China.

Read more at The Guardian.

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May 16, 2016

UNEP Executive Director Joins G7 Environment Ministers Meeting in Japan

Toyama, Japan, 15 May 2016 - UN Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner was in Toyama, Japan this weekend, where he joined G7 Environment Ministers for their meeting to prepare the outcomes for the 2016 G7 Leaders Summit in Japan later this month.

Mr. Steiner joined the G7 ministers to present and discuss UNEP's work and perspectives on the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals, resource efficiency, climate change & biodiversity.

On the margins of the meeting, the Executive Director met with Environment Ministers from Japan, Germany and Canada, along with the EU's Commissioner for the Environment and France's Ambassador for the Environment.

In Toyama, Mr. Steiner joined UNEP International Resource Panel's Co-Chair, Janez Potočnik and lead report author Paul Ekin in presenting the summary of a report on resource efficiency to G7 Environment Ministers, represented by Japan's Environment Minister, Tamayo Marukawa, and Germany's Environment Minister, Barbara Hendricks. Last year, G7 leaders at their summit in Schloss Elmau asked the UNEP-hosted panel of experts to develop the report to analyze the potential impact of greater resource efficiency on resource use, greenhouse gas emissions and economies. The report, called Resource Efficiency: Potential and Economic Implications, indicates that greenhouse gases and resource consumption can be greatly decreased, and economies grown, with better resource efficiency policies and international climate action.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.
Read the final communique of the G7 Environment Ministers meeting here.

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May 12, 2016

Plastic use in consumer goods causes US$75 billion in damages a year

By Lynda Hong
Thursday 12 May 2016

Plastic is widely used to wrap and protect consumer goods, but the use of petrochemical-based plastic is costing society an estimated US$75 billion of environmental damages every year.

By switching to just two readily-available sustainable plastics, environmental costs can be reduced by about US$3.5 billion, with the potential for more savings if the private sector and business work together to seek sustainable plastic alternatives.

According to a discussion paper published last week by the London-headquartered environmental data consultancy Trucost, this cost is largely derived from petrochemical-based plastic causing climate change and pollution, in particular, marine pollution.

The paper titled ‘Scaling “Sustainable Plastics: Solutions to Drive Plastics towards a Circular Economy’ said waste plastic has been undervalued in the economy because the environmental cost has not been properly valuated.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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May 12, 2016

Asean-Japan chemical database officially launched

The official version of the chemical database from Japan and other Asian countries is now available online, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti) has announced.

Meti has been working with the officials of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) to develop the Asean-Japan Chemical Safety Database (AJCSD). It provides information on chemical substances, and related laws and regulations in these countries.

The official version replaced the trial version, which ran from April 2015 until 28 April this year. The current operator is the National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (Nite), which provides Japan’s chemical risk information platform (CHRIP).

Read more at Chemical Watch.
Database Link: ASEAN-Japan Chemical Safety Database (AJCSD)

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May 11, 2016

Government calls for innovative ideas to change public procurement

posted by Andrew Allen

Purchasing professionals with proposals about how to radically transform public procurement may find a platform for their ideas in a new government consultation survey.

As part of its “call for ideas” for the National Innovation Plan, the government is seeking suggestions from the public to help develop innovation in the UK – and one of the main categories is how public procurement can be transformed.

A questionnaire asks respondents to suggest how the UK should develop a framework that encourages innovation and the power of procurement and customer demand to stimulate the development of innovative products.

Read more at the CIPS website.

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May 9, 2016

In India's quarries, workers die to make pretty garden tiles

by Rina Chandran
Monday, 9 May 2016 12:03 GMT

BUDHPURA, India, May 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Amid the ancient forts and stunning palaces of India's Rajasthan state is a less alluring sight: hundreds of workers in stone quarries, many dying of silicosis from cutting and polishing the sandstone tiles that adorn gardens and patios here and abroad.

Much of the sandstone used in kitchen counter tops and as cobblestones comes from the state's Kota and Bundi districts, where workers toil under extreme conditions, with hardly any protective gear and for very little money.

About half the state's 2 million mine workers suffer from silicosis or other respiratory diseases, according to labour rights campaigners.

Although there is no comprehensive data, hundreds, possibly thousands, have died of silicosis, an incurable lung disease caused by long-term exposure to silica dust given off in the mining and processing of sandstone and limestone.

Rajasthan's human rights commission last year asked the state government to modernise mining and conduct regular medical tests to contain the disease. Activists say the state must also do more to ensure there are no child workers, whose vulnerable bodies are even more susceptible to silicosis.

Read more at the Thomson Reuters Foundation News.

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May 9, 2016

Toyota, Ben & Jerry’s Among 155 Companies to Set Science-Based Emissions Reduction Targets

Forty-one companies have joined the Science-Based Targets initiative since the COP21 climate negotiations in December. On the eve of the Climate Action Summit in Washington, D.C. last week, the initiative announced that a total of 155 companies have now committed to set emissions reduction targets in-line with the global effort to keep warming well below 2 degrees Celsius.

The 41 new signatories include Ben & Jerry’s, SunPower Corporation, Owens Corning, Toyota Motor Corporation, and large European retailer Metro AG.

The Science-Based Targets initiative, which is a partnership between CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project), the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), exceeded its goal to recruit 100 companies to make commitments by the end of 2015. 114 participants signed on before the COP21 negotiations concluded, including Ben & Jerry’s’ parent company Unilever.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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May 6, 2016

Malaysian palm oil companies say their concession maps are state secrets

6th May 2016 / Philip Jacobson

In the war on opaque management of Southeast Asia’s natural resources, reformers gained ground on Tuesday, when Indonesia’s land minister affirmed the right of oil palm companies to publish their own concession maps. Doing so would violate no law, Ferry Mursyidan Baldan said in an official letter to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the world’s largest association for ethical production of the commodity. The pronouncement came two-and-a-half years after the RSPO committed to sharing the maps of its grower members, a resolution that Indonesian and Malaysian firms have resisted due to what they have portrayed as uncertainty over whether publishing the information is legal.

If transparency advocates were excited by this latest development, the companies’ reaction might give them pause. Edi Suhardi, chairman of the RSPO’s Indonesian Growers Caucus, said his side remained unconvinced the maps could be released without running afoul of the law. He pointed to a different letter issued a year ago by the agriculture ministry’s plantations chief, Gamal Nasir, which stated that the intended disclosures were illegal. Unless that dictum were expressly revoked or superseded, Suhardi told Mongabay on Wednesday, the growers could not condone publication.

Even that would not be enough. Last December, when the RSPO, having deemed Gamal Nasir’s objection absent of any legal weight, announced it would proceed with publication, it allowed an exemption for Malaysia, where the legality of sharing maps “continues to be ambiguous within the laws of the country.” That the same did not apply to Indonesia was a “double standard” to which the archipelago’s growers could not abide, Suhardi maintained. Until an “equal commitment” from all growers was secured, his side would “maintain the status quo.”

Read more at Mongabay.

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May 5, 2016

Why Recycling Will Be a Last Resort in a Truly Circular Economy

by Joe Iles
May 5, 2016

The circular economy represents a fundamental shift in the way resources, energy and information flow through our economy. A key characteristic of this framework is that products and components remain at their highest levels of integrity and performance. So is recycling part of the picture?

There’s some perception that a circular economy is just ‘recycling on steroids’ — recycling more stuff, and doing it a bit better. This confusion is understandable. Since the 1970s, recycling has become synonymous with ‘doing good.’ What’s more, many businesses have invested in recycling practices that seem like a natural starting point for more involved circular economy activities. However, the characteristics of a circular economy — and existing research — suggest that returning a product to the material level would be ‘the loop of last resort,’ with a more fundamental shift required to decouple growth from finite resources and move to a circular development path.

Economic analysis conducted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey & Co. has demonstrated how, in a circular economy, greater value can be obtained by operating in the ‘inner loops’ of a technical cycle. Activities such as sharing, service, maintenance, refurbishment and remanufacturing preserve the integrity of a product. We often hear about how a company has recovered a product and then processed the materials so they can be used as a resource. But think about it — by returning a product to its constituent materials you lose all the energy, labour and expense that went into creating it in the first place. In some cases, the recycling process may even be more costly than extracting virgin resources. This can severely undermine recycling efforts — in the current context of depressed commodity prices, for example.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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May 5, 2016

COP22 Low-Emissions Solutions Conference will bring together cities, government and business to scale up climate solutions

Washington DC, May 5 2016 – Cities, business and government will come together to scale up solutions for climate action at COP22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, following an announcement today that four leading organizations will present a Low Emissions Solutions Conference in order to accelerate the implementation of solutions under the historic Paris Agreement.

The Government of Morocco will host the conference in partnership with UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, World Business Council for Sustainability and ICLEI. The parties formalized their collaboration on the conference by signing a Memorandum of Understanding today at the Climate Action 2016 summit in Washington DC.

The Low-Emissions Solutions Conference is part of the overall global agenda to bring together the stakeholders that can design and implement Nationally Determined Contributions and Low-Emission Development Strategies (LEDSs) under the Paris Agreement.

The conference will convene the key players for delivering coordinated solutions to emissions reduction - cities, business, academics and government – as all stakeholders must work together to help solve the climate challenge. Integrated collaboration helps to produce commercial business solutions that overcome policy barriers and can be scaled up rapidly for global implementation, thereby strengthening the ability of governments around the world to make their emissions reduction targets a reality.

Read more at the WBCSD website.

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April 29, 2016

Commission delays ecodesign strategy for fear of offending UK businesses

By Cécile Barbière
Translated By Samuel White

Central to the Circular Economy Package, the 2015-2017 ecodesign strategy will not be presented by the Commission until autumn 2016. Some see this as an attempt not to upset UK businesses. EurActiv France reports.

Ecodesign, one of the pillars of public policy to promote the transition to a circular economy, is making slow progress at the European level.

The European Commission has still not published its much-awaited new ecodesign strategy for 2015-2017, a text which should provide the framework for the formulation of new, more efficient ecodesign standards for consumer products.

“We understand that the ecodesign strategy has always been on the agenda, but that it will not be presented before this autumn,” said a representative of the European Federation representing the European waste management industry (FEAD).

This lack of urgency has left many stakeholders deeply unsatisfied. “Ecodesign must play a determining role in a successful transition towards a circular economy,” the federation explained.

According to FEAD, 80% of a product’s environmental impact is determined at the design stage.

Read more at EurActiv.com.

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April 28, 2016

Eco Action Day marks 10 years of environmental leadership

By Vaidehi Shah
Thursday 28 April 2016

Office workers spend about eight hours a day surrounded by pinging e-mails, whirring photocopiers, and ringing phones; preoccupied with deadlines and meetings, employees might not make sustainability a top priority.

Companies, too, may drag their feet on making their offices more sustainable by investing in energy efficient technologies or switching to cleaner sources of energy, due to worries that these measures are too expensive or time-consuming.

Economic or time constraints are commonly cited reasons for a lack of environmental stewardship in the workplace, but one firm has spent a decade trying to change this.

Japanese electronics multinational firm Ricoh believes the office presents endless opportunities for companies to reduce their environmental impact and change people’s habits to be more sustainable through simple actions such as turning up the air conditioning or using their own cups for takeaway coffee.

This conviction led Ricoh to launch its Global Eco Action programme in 2006 in Japan to encourage its employees, corporate partners and other organisations to cut their energy use. The initiative is observed every June 5, the United Nations’ World Environment Day.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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April 25, 2016

Bioplastic Advancements Show Promise for Biodegradable Milk, Juice, Food Packaging

Food packaging is one of the main generators of packaging waste in developed countries. In 2012, each person in the European Union (EU) countries generated an average of 156.8kg of packaging waste, and plastic containers accounted for 19 percent of it. In total, 15.1 million tons of plastic packaging waste was generated. Of course, many organizations are working on cutting back this waste, and new materials are under development, including biodegradable bioplastics made from renewable materials or even waste.

For example, Italian biotech firm Bio-on has created first-of-its-kind, naturally biodegradable containers made of a combination of paper and bioplastic in collaboration with Tampere University of Technology Finland. The company says that the containers developed as part of the “Minerv PHA Extrusion Coating” project are also recyclable and safe for food and biomedical applications.

The packaging is based on Bio-on’s 100 percent biodegradable bioplastic called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), made from agricultural processing waste materials. PHA has numerous applications, from replacing plastics in electronics to biodegradable microbeads. For the new containers, the researchers used it to replace the polyethylene in current packaging, maintaining all of its impermeability.

Read more at the Sustainable Brands website.

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April 22, 2016

Developing countries take lead at climate change agreement signing

By Lyndal Rowlands

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 22 2016 (IPS) - An unprecedented 175 countries signed the Paris Climate Change Agreement here Friday, with 15 developing countries taking the lead by also ratifying the treaty.


The Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Somalia, Palestine, Barbados, Belize, Fiji, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Tuvalu, the Maldives, Saint Lucia and Mauritius all deposited their instruments of ratification at the signing ceremony, meaning that their governments have already agreed to be legally bound by the terms of the treaty.

Speaking at the opening of the signing ceremony UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon welcomed the record-breaking number of signatures for an international treaty on a single day but reminded the governments present that “records are also being broken outside.”

“Record global temperatures. Record ice loss. Record carbon levels in the atmosphere,” said Ban.

Ban urged all countries to have their governments ratify the agreement at the national level as soon as possible.

“The window for keeping global temperature rise well below two degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees, is rapidly closing,” he said.

In order for the Paris agreement to enter into force it must first be ratified by 55 countries representing 55 percent of global emissions.

Read more at Inter Press Service.

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April 22, 2016

Connecting Business with the Sustainable Development Goals: WBCSD at the UN General Assembly High Level Thematic Debate on Achieving the SDGs

New York City, April 22 2016 – The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) assumed a prominent role in the context of a high level thematic debate which was held yesterday at the United Nations General Assembly in New York focusing on the topic of “Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”.

The debate feeds into the wider framework of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It took place on the eve of the historic signing ceremony for the Paris Climate Agreement, underlining the strong links between these areas.

The debate brought together leaders from around the globe; across politics, civil society and business. It aimed to raise awareness, foster opportunities for partnerships and catalyze action around the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted in September 2015. These goals will shape the global development agenda through to 2030.

Read more at the WBCSD website.

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April 22, 2016

What are the most effective ways of promoting electric cars?

Norway has the highest battery-electric vehicle market share of any country worldwide. A new study investigated the incentives that have persuaded consumers to purchase electric vehicles in Norway, revealing that up-front price reductions (such as exemptions from purchase tax) are the most powerful incentives.

An astounding 80% of increases in CO2 emissions in the past 45 years have come from road transport. Electromobility — a road transport system in which vehicles use electricity for propulsion — has been proposed as a method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.

Indeed, electric vehicles emit less CO2 than conventional, internal combustion enginepowered cars but also provide enhanced energy efficiency, lower user costs and reduced noise and air pollution.

Norway, where this study was conducted, has become a global leader in electromobility. It has the highest market share of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs, which use chemical energy stored in rechargeable battery packs to power electric motors) of any country worldwide. Over 70 000 BEVs are registered in the country, and they accounted for almost 20% of new car sales in 2015.

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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April 20, 2016

GPP 2020 project tenders save equivalent of more than nine oil tankers

The equivalent of more than 700,000 tonnes of CO2 has been saved through the green procurement activities of the EU-funded GPP 2020 project. The environmental savings amount to 5000 barrels of crude oil, or the contents of over nine oil tankers. Over the course of three years, more than 100 low-carbon tenders were implemented by over 40 public authorities in over ten countries.

The project worked with public procurers in Europe to implement innovative, environmentally-friendly tenders. These impressive tenders were the basis for models that make it easier to purchase low-carbon goods and services. Examples range from the procurement of more energy-efficient commercial dishwashers in Germany, which saw the CO2 equivalent of 207 flights from Barcelona to Ljubljana saved, to the joint procurement of an energy performance contract for Italian hospitals, which saved the astounding equivalent of the power generated by 341 football stadiums each year.

Read more at Sustainable procurement resource centre.

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April 15, 2016

Asian consumer firms need to buck up on sustainability: New report

By Vaidehi Shah
Friday 15 April 2016

Non-profit group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has published a report shining an uncomfortable spotlight on Asian consumer firms, which finds them severely lagging behind international standards on sustainability.

The international group said the lack of sustainability among Asian manufacturers of food, household, and personal care products is in part due to a lack of scrutiny from financiers.

In a new report, titled ‘Asian Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) – A Sustainability Guide for Financiers and Companies’, WWF noted that Asian companies and their investors are not doing enough when it comes to managing their environmental risks.

The report, launched at the third Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources conference organised by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, analysed sustainability and annual reports from 26 Asian FMCG firms to see how they managed the environmental impact of the three most important elements of their operations, namely water use, packaging, and ‘soft commodities’ such as palm oil, sugar, and meat.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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April 15, 2016

Simple steps to increase the uptake of sustainable service-based business models

‘Product-service systems’ are innovative business models designed to satisfy societal needs in an environmentally sustainable manner. This study explores how government policies could increase the uptake of these systems, outlining five key recommendations to achieve this, including schemes to raise awareness and involve local authorities.

There are concerns that the business models currently relied upon to satisfy basic human needs are environmentally unsustainable, with a growing number of voices calling for new models that recognise the value of ecological systems and natural capital for human welfare. Of the new business models proposed to satisfy societal needs in a sustainable manner, product-service systems (PSSs) have received particular attention.

PSSs describe when a business offers a mix of products and services, in contrast to the traditional product-driven models, and are designed to meet customer needs with reduced environmental impact. Examples include Michelin’s fleet-management solution, in which tyres are sold per kilometre driven to reduce fuel use and emissions, or Rolls Royce’s ‘Power by the Hour’ service for aircraft engines, whereby maintenance and repair services are charged per hour of flight.

Although the benefits of PSSs have been well recognised, adoption remains limited due to corporate, cultural and regulatory barriers. This paper studied how ‘demand–pull’ government policies — which influence demand for innovations, through economic incentives for example — may stimulate uptake of PSSs.

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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April 14, 2016

CO2 Emissions Down as EU Drivers Buy Cleaner Cars

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, April 14, 2016 (ENS) – New cars sold in the European Union are increasingly more fuel-efficient and beat the official CO2 emissions target handily, concludes the European Environment Agency (EEA) in a new report published today.

Official test results reported by national authorities to the agency show that last year new passenger cars sold emitted, on average, just 119.6 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre.

That’s a full eight percent below the official EU target set for 2015 – more than 10 g CO2/km below the 2015 target.

The EEA report is based on “reported emissions,” which the agency calls “the provisional data,” indicating some possible adjustments to come.

Since 2010, when monitoring started under current legislation, the EEA says official data shows emissions have fallen by more than 20 g CO2/km.

The European Union met its 2015 target of 130 g CO2/km in 2013 – two years ahead of schedule.

Last year, the average CO2 emissions of a new car sold was three percent lower than in the previous year.

In the next few years, the noose of regulations will tighten further to cut off CO2 emissions. Another, even lower, official target of 95 g CO2/km has to be met by 2021.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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April 13, 2016

Edible cutlery company wants us to eat our way out of plastic pollution

Valerie Flynn
Wednesday 13 April 2016 16.01 BST

Plastic waste covers our oceans and landfill. The past 70 years of plastic waste have resulted in pollution so ubiquitous scientists say it’s a marker of a new geological epoch, the manmade Anthropocene.

Plastic cutlery is a contributor to this enormous problem – estimates suggest the US alone uses 40bn plastic utensils a year – but the founder of Indian cutlery company Bakeys thinks he might have a solution. Cutlery you can eat.

The vegan friendly spoons are made from rice, wheat and sorghum, an ancient grain originally from Africa. Sorghum was chosen as a primary ingredient for its tough quality (it doesn’t go soggy in liquids) and because it is suitable for cultivation in semi-arid areas.

The cutlery comes in three flavours – savoury (salt and cumin), sweet (sugar) and plain. “It tastes like a cracker, a dry cracker because we don’t put any fat in it. It can complement any food. The taste of the food gets into the spoon,” says company founder Narayana Peesapaty.

Read more at The Guardian.

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April 13, 2016

SDG Compass: Newly released online resources and translations now available

Geneva, April 13 2016 – Businesses looking for more information about how to take action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can now use the SDG Compass to access a new series of two-page briefing notes for each of the 17 SDGs.

The briefing notes summarize the challenges and aspirations underlying each of the SDGs, and give an overview of the role for business in their ultimate realization. They highlight the key themes of each SDG and outline the most commonly used corresponding business tools and indicators.

By collating the different points at which business can intersect with the SDG agenda, the briefing notes are an essential resource for companies seeking to better understand the SDGs and can help to explore opportunities for integrating the SGDs into company strategies and actions.

This latest online resource supports the wider SDG Compass guide for business, and complements the existing online inventories of business tools and indicators mapped against the SDGs. The SDG Compass itself has now also been translated into four languages: Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean, and more translations will be added over time.

Read more at the WBCSD website.

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April 12, 2016

European Commission publishes third edition of Buying Green! Handbook

The new edition of the Buying Green! Handbook, the European Commission’s leading publication for assisting public sector entities to purchase goods and services that have a lower impact on the environment, has been published. The Handbook, now in its third edition, has been fully revised to detail the possibilities of how contracting bodies can put green public procurement (GPP) policies into practice under the 2014 Procurement Directives. Given the importance of public sector spending in Europe, GPP is an important tool to help achieve environmental policy goals relating to climate change, resource use and sustainable consumption and production.

Guidance is provided on how environmental considerations can be included at each stage of the procurement process within the revised EU legal framework, practical examples drawn from contracting authorities across EU Member States are presented, and sector specific GPP approaches for buildings, food and catering services, road transport vehicles and energy-using products are outlined.

Read more at Sustainable procurement resource centre.
The third edition of the Buying Green! Handbook is available at the European Commission website.

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April 8, 2016

Trending: Levi Strauss, MIT Partnerships Advancing Textile Innovations

As Levi’s VP of Social and Environmental Sustainability, Michael Kobori, said last year in a blog post, along with a long-standing partnership with Goodwill to divert clothing from landfill and take-back programs for apparel for recycling into everything from building insulation to cushioning material, Levi Strauss’ circular economy ambitions include establishing an infrastructure that supports closed-loop products — recycling your old Levi’s into new ones — by 2020.

In the meantime, and in addition to Levi’s resource-conservation innovations such as its Water

So last week, Levi’s announced a new partnership with Italian upcyled fiber supplier Aquafil — maker of ECONYL®, a nylon made from waste materials such as used carpeting, discarded fishing nets and other marine plastics — to create a new men’s collection incorporating ECONYL, starting with Levi’s 522 men’s tapered pant.

Thanks to smart partnerships such as this, it’s been a busy few years for Aquafil as it continues to create a circular economy for textiles — we first heard of the company in 2013, when companies such as Interface joined Aquafil’s Healthy Seas initiative aimed at tackling the problem of marine litter. In 2015, the company partnered with Kelly Slater’s Outerknown label to incorporate ECONYL into its debut collection; and with Speedo USA on a take-back program for Speedo’s post-manufacturing swimwear scraps, which will be upcycled into ECONYL; and in February, Aquafil and Milliken created a custom ECONYL “green carpet” that greeted celebrity guests at Global Green’s 13th annual Pre-Oscar Party.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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April 8, 2016

Why refrigerants are a hot climate issue

By Vaidehi Shah
Friday 8 April 2016

Australian companies can save billions on energy bills and cut cooling-related emissions by half if they switch away from synthetic hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants to natural ones such as carbon dioxide and ammonia, said industry leaders on Tuesday.

Refrigerants are fluids that absorb and release heat in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) systems used in homes, commercial buildings and industrial facilities across the world.

Speaking at the Australian Refrigeration Association’s (ARA) HVACR Energy Efficiency Seminar at the Australian Technology Park in Sydney, ARA president Tim Edwards told the 40-strong audience that “natural (refrigerants) are better in every way and yet, synthetics continue to dominate the industry”.

The most recent study on this by the Australian Department of the Environment in 2012 shows that about 43,500 tonnes of synthetic refrigerants such as HFCs or hydroflurochlorocarbons, or HCFCs, are stored in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment in the country. This volume of stored gas is known as a gas bank.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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April 7, 2016

EU draft Regulation sets tighter BPA limit in FCMs

7 April 2016
by Leigh Stringer

The European Commission has issued a draft Regulation that would see tighter limits set for bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic food contact materials (FCMs).

If adopted, it would apply a "migration limit" of 0.05mg of BPA per kg of food (mg/kg) to plastic materials and articles and varnishes and coatings found in canned foods. This is the maximum permitted amount of a given substance released from a material or article into food. The current limit is set at 0.6 mg of BPA per kg of food (mg/kg).

According to the Commission, small quantities of BPA can migrate into food from the material or article that it is in contact with. This can result in "some exposure".

The draft says that the new limit is to "fully ensure that exposure to BPA remains below the [Tolerable Daily Intake] and does not endanger human health".

The European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) currently sets the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) of BPA at four micrograms per kilogram of bodyweight per day (μg/kg bw/day).

However, it designated the TDI as temporary (t-TDI) pending the outcome of a long-term toxicity study on BPA in rodents. This is being undertaken by the US National Toxicology Program and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Read more at ChemicalWatch.

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April 5, 2016

Students convince University of Glasgow to solely purchase conflict-free products

The University of Glasgow is joining a lengthy list of American and Canadian higher-learning institutes in banning the purchase of conflict minerals by introducing a new supply-chain code of conduct. The move comes following pressure applied by the Students’ Representative Council, which advocated for the university to join the ‘Conflict Free Campus Initiative’. The initiative asks organisations to change their procurement policies to ensure that the purchase of conflict materials is reduced.

Minerals such as tin and tungsten, vital ingredients in a wide-range of mobile phones and electronic products, is mined in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Armed militias often hijack this mining, using the proceeds generated to fund violent conflict. A report by Amnesty International indicated that companies such as Apple, Google, IBM and Amazon include conflict materials within their products, having failed to full eradicate them from the supply chain.

Read more at Sustainable procurement resource centre.

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April 3, 2016

Need to Transform Asia-Pacific Resource Use and Investments for a Green Economy

Bangkok, 3 April 2016 – Transformative change in the use of material and financial resources to promote green economy in the Asia Pacific region is a key recommendation by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in a report prepared with partners and released today during the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) report, entitled Transformations for Sustainable Development: Promoting Environmental Sustainability in Asia and the Pacific, was prepared with UNEP, the United Nations University and the Institute for Global Environmental Studies, and highlights the importance of transforming public and private investment flows and resource use, to promote sustainable development.

Read more at the UNEP Regional Office for Asia Pacific website.

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April 1, 2016

New public procurement rules to come into force in Scotland

Scotland's public procurement rules will be reformed on 18 April 2016, with two significant pieces of legislation coming into effect. The first is the implementation of EU procurement directives from 2014, which primarily apply to contracting authorities and to utilities, while the second is the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014.

The legislation encourages the supply chain to pay greater attention to prior information notices (PINs) and includes specific details related to compliance. The thresholds at which buyers must advertise have been lowered through the Procurement Reform Act to £50,000 for goods and services and £2 million for works.

Read more at Sustainable procurement resource centre.

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March 31, 2016

World First: Tire Recycling Yields Steel, Diesel, Carbon

PERTH, Western Australia, March 31, 2016 (ENS) – Tytec Recycling, a new company based in Perth, announced Wednesday that it would open the world’s first environmentally-friendly off the road tire recycling operation this year.

The facility will employ a new Edison Award-winning technology to make high-quality marketable steel, diesel oil and carbon out of the old earthmoving tires used in mining and agriculture.

“We’re currently on track to begin OTR recycling in June 2016 and will open our purpose-built recycling center in Perth in January 2017, then Queensland soon after,” says Brett Fennell, Tytec Recycling’s chairman.

Currently, used off the road, OTR, tires are buried under mining dumps or stacked in EPA-approved areas around mine sites.

Tire recycling has always been difficult, and for mining and agriculture’s cast off tires it has been “nearly impossible,” Fennell said.

Now, using Edison Award-winning technology from the Green Distillation Technologies Corporation, GDTC, Tytec Recycling will convert these outworn tires into steel, diesel oil and carbon.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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March 30, 2016

Supply Chain Traceability Key to Fulfilling Sustainability Promises

by Daniel Prakarsa

Consumers these days want to know that when a business says that it is producing something ethically and sustainably, that it can back up such claims throughout its entire supply chain. After all, a business’s claims to operating sustainably are only partly fulfilled when it can’t confirm the sustainability of its raw materials or other products involved in production. So customers increasingly expect businesses to make sure their supply chain is as committed as they are to principled behaviour.

Meeting this expectation is one of the biggest challenges that businesses now face, which is where supply chain traceability – a company’s ability to map its supply chain thoroughly and to know exactly who produces what at which stage of the business, from raw material to finished good - comes in.

Getting that mapping done can be a laborious journey. This is particularly true of agricultural and retail sectors, which tend to have very complex supply chains. The Indonesian palm oil industry, for example, has over two million smallholders running over 40 percent of plantations across the country. The effort it takes to map the supply chain down to the individual farmer is enormous.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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March 30, 2016

Consumer protection laws need updating to improve trust in e-commerce

Countries should modernise their consumer protection laws to address new risks posed by online commerce, including “free” apps and peer-to-peer Internet transactions, according to new OECD guidelines for member countries and emerging economies.

The OECD Recommendation on Consumer Protection in E-Commerce says people buying online are entitled to the same level of protection as with conventional transactions. It calls on governments to work with business and consumer groups to determine legal changes that could improve consumer trust in e-commerce.

In particular, it suggests consumer protection laws should cover online apps and services offered for free in exchange for gaining access to the user’s personal data.

While consumers are increasingly drawn to the convenience and choice of online commerce, concerns about privacy, payment security or legal recourse in case of a problem mean that many others remain wary. Other concerns include online product safety risks and doubts over whether consumer reviews are genuine.

Read more at OECD.

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March 30, 2016

Vatican aims to stamp out forced labour from supply chains

The Vatican is taking steps to rid its supply chains of slave labour and is encouraging others to follow its lead. Pope Francis is strongly behind the campaign with Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Vatican secretariat for the economy, recently congratulating the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) on their resolution to fight forced labour issues in global supply chains.

The CGF is a global network of 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders across 70 countries. Cardinal Pell hailed the CGF's decision to adopt the resolution to help prevent slavery as a "giant step forward".

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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March 23, 2016

How Asia can clean up its waste problem

By Vaidehi Shah
Wednesday 23 March 2016

China is now the largest economy in the world, but this record-breaking growth has put unprecedented stress on the country’s pollution control, transport, and waste management infrastructure.

The country’s energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) is more than twice that of the world average, and a similar pattern is seen in the consumption of other resources such as steel, cement and other raw materials, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI).

But while these growing pains are acutely felt in China, the rest of Asia’s developing countries are also all too familiar with the industrial contamination, water and land pollution, and indiscriminate waste dumping resulting from poorly managed economic development.

Asia’s waste management woes are undermining public health and safety, worsening the quality of life for citizens, and reducing the land available for cities to expand, say experts, adding that failure to address them could slow economic growth and undermine people’s well-being.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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March 22, 2016

Indonesia to Europe: Pay for sustainable palm oil

By Jessica Cheam
Tuesday 22 March 2016

Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution has called on European countries to pay the premium for sustainable palm oil, saying that the cost of raising the sustainability standards of the industry “cannot be borne by producers alone”.

Speaking at the International Conference on Oil Palm and Environment (ICOPE) held in Bali last week, Darmin noted that “some European countries will not hesitate to promote a boycott on non-sustainable palm oil, however they have yet to be willing to pay (the) premium for sustainable products”.

The minister said that in the past, European countries at advanced stages of development expect Indonesia – a developing country – to adopt sustainability as a “baseline condition of business”.

“Unfortunately not many European countries (are) willing to pay extra for sustainability. Being sustainable requires effort and funding – this cannot be borne by producers alone,” he told a 400-strong industry audience on Wednesday.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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March 21, 2016

Apple announces new recycling program as interest in green gadgets grows

Alison Moodie
Monday 21 March 2016 18.12 GMT

For gadget geeks, today was a lot like Christmas. This morning, Apple announced its next generation of products – including new, smaller iterations of the iPhone and iPad. Apple CEO Tim Cook also reiterated a recent milestone: there are now one billion Apple products in active use around the world.

But, if the estimated 231.5m iPhones sold in 2015 are any indication, this will also mark the beginning of a fresh deluge of Apple products into landfills across the country. More than 700m iPhones have sold since they debuted in 2007. And, while some of those phones have been reprocessed and resold, the majority still end up in the municipal waste stream, where they are likely to contribute to air, water and soil pollution.

To counter this, Apple announced a new research and development program aimed at improving its recycling initiatives. Known as Apple Renew, the program will encourage users to recycle their devices by sending them to Apple for free, or dropping them off at an Apple retail store. Once at Apple, the devices will be deconstructed by a robot called Liam (or an entire assembly line of them, presumably) so Apple can recover and reintroduce the components into its supply.

Read more at The Guardian.

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March 17, 2016

Green public procurement: a method to implement environmental policy

GPP is a way of pursuing environmental policy. It is practised in Europe, where the European Commission (EC)1 defines it as ‘a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured’.

The aim of GPP is to influence the market for environmental benefit. Public sector spending is an important part of the economy in many countries. In the EU, public authorities spend €2 trillion every year — equivalent to 19% of its GDP. By using this purchasing power for goods and services with lower environmental impact, public authorities can influence sustainable production and consumption.

Alongside the ‘substitution’ effect (when a purchasing authority substitutes a conventional product for a more environmentally friendly one), GPP can have a ‘transformative’ effect. In other words, it provides incentives for industry to develop greener products. This can be especially powerful in sectors where public authorities have a large share of the market, such as public transport or healthcare.

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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March 17, 2016

Hamburg bans environmentally damaging coffee capsules from public buildings

Hamburg (Germany) is making city employees’ morning coffee more sustainable by banning the use of coffee-pods in state run buildings. The city has taken the decision on the basis that the capsules cause unnecessary resource consumption and often contain polluting aluminum. The composition of the capsules also makes them next to impossible to recycle in traditional recycling plants.

The ban on purchasing coffee capsules was included in the city’s green procurement strategy, which ensures that the city avoids buying “certain polluting products or product components". The use of a separate container for each shot of coffee leads to the generation of a significant amount of waste, which the city aims to alleviate through the ban.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre and BBC News.

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March 16, 2016

Renewables ideas make world of difference

March 16, 2016, by Tim Radford

LONDON, 16 March, 2016 – Here is a snapshot of the future for the energy-aware. It may one day be possible to drive an electric car with a battery partly made with carbon dioxide from the air.

It may also be possible to recharge the same car in a garage covered with lightweight, flexible sheets of organic solar cells spread like wallpaper. And if that’s not enough, engineers might use energy from a bacterial fuel cell that generates current from the water flushed down their toilets.

None of these things is possible right now. All, any or none of them may mature to a commercial product. But each is an indicator of ingenuity, imagination and resource repeatedly demonstrated in the world’s laboratories to confront the coming crisis of energy and climate change.

Researchers in the US don’t just boast that their new car batteries are carbon-neutral: they are carbon negative. They report in ACS Science journal that they have shown that the graphite electrodes used in lithium-ion batteries in electric automobiles can be replaced with carbon recovered from the atmosphere.

Read more at Climate News Network.

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March 16, 2016

Gearing up: how Taipei's bike-sharing program is transforming citizens' commute

Ralph Jennings
Wednesday 16 March 2016 21.30 GMT

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taipei’s rental bikes are hard to miss. The Taiwanese capital has 7,264 of them, and their distinctive orange frames, yellow fenders and smiley face logo are nearly as common in some parts of town as the city’s ubiquitous motor scooters. Last year, the city’s bike rental program logged more than 20m trips, a stunning figure that becomes slightly less surprising when one considers that the bikes rent for as little as $0.15 per half hour from 222 self-service, card-activated storage lots.

It’s hard to believe that, just four years ago, the program was on the edge of collapse, done in by a lack of rental docks and a scarcity of viable bike lanes in the city’s choked streets. After a brief burst of enthusiasm, cycling became an unpopular method of transportation as citizens tried to save gas money during the global financial crisis.

The city worked with Giant Manufacturing, the company that produces the bikes, to turn its bike rental program around. Giant upgraded its fleet to include mini locks, strong braking systems and bikes that change gears – a move that cut down on the number of repair jobs and broken bikes.

Read more at The Guardian.

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March 15, 2016

Supermarkets pledge to cut food waste 20% by 2025

Press Association
Tuesday 15 March 2016 09.52 GMT

Britain’s leading supermarkets have pledged to drive down food and drink waste by a fifth within the next decade.

Retailers including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons are backing a voluntary agreement, which also targets a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions created by the food and drink industry.

Some 24 local authorities, including the London Water and Recycling Board, and major brands and manufacturers such as Coca-Cola, Nestle and Pizza Hut have also committed to the agreement produced by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap).

The charity, working on behalf of the government and devolved powers in Wales and Scotland, hailed the deal as the first of its kind and said it would usher in a “new era” for the industry. It comes days after Tesco, the UK’s biggest grocery chain, committed to sending no surplus food to waste from its stores by the end of next year by redistributing it to charities.

Read more at The Guardian.

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March 14, 2016

How insetting is helping AccorHotels win over guests and locals

By Vaidehi Shah
Monday 14 March 2016

Signs encouraging simple acts such as reusing towels or saving water have become a permanent fixture in hotels worldwide as they help to reduce environmental impact and minimise energy costs.

But at French multinational AccorHotels’ properties, these gestures are going a step further to sustain local livelihoods and build communities, thanks to an initiative called Plant for the Planet, which channels half of the hotel’s laundry savings into reforestation projects which support sustainable agriculture.

As part of the programme, AccorHotels, in partnership with Pur Projet - a French collective of 50 global organisations which work to support small farmers - channels some of the money saved every time a guest hangs up a towel to support reforestation projects close to its hotels.

Projects are also designed to promote agroforestry - a sustainable farming system where trees and crops are grown on the same plot of land.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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March 11, 2016

German computer system contract results in significant energy savings

It is estimated that a framework contract prepared by the Procurement Agency of the Federal Ministry of the Interior in Germany (BeschA) for thin clients - lightweight computers that do not have a hard drive but instead link back to an external server - will save over 10 million kilowatt-hours per year - equivalent to the annual emissions of over 2,000 European households.

A tender for a nation-wide framework contract for around 50,000 thin client computer systems (and services related to these) was issued in August 2013. The total demand was determined to be around €15 million. The requirements specified in the tender documents were based on a comprehensive needs assessment that was undertaken prior to publication.

Read more at Sustainable procurement resource centre.

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March 10, 2016

Indonesian palm oil producers make sustainability progress

posted by Andrew Allen

Two of Indonesia’s largest palm oil producers have taken major steps towards promoting sustainability in their supply chains.

The world’s second largest palm oil producer, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), has mapped its supply chain to 489 individual mills in Indonesia.

The company said it now knows the location and other details of all mills which supply crude palm oil and palm kernels to its processing facilities in eight different locations in Indonesia.

In 2014 GAR extended its sustainability policy to its entire supply chain.

“We see a clear industry trend where buyers want more information on the impact of the palm oil they purchase,” said Paul Hickman, head of global vegetable oils and oilseeds, trading at the Singapore-based company.

“If we can trace the oil back to its source we can engage more effectively with the suppliers and share what we have learned in our own operations to help them improve their environmental and social practices.”

Read more at Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply.

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March 10, 2016

Could a new plastic-eating bacteria help combat this pollution scourge?

Karl Mathiesen
Thursday 10 March 2016 19.00 GMT

Nature has begun to fight back against the vast piles of filth dumped into its soils, rivers and oceans by evolving a plastic-eating bacteria – the first known to science.

In a report published in the journal Science, a team of Japanese researchers described a species of bacteria that can break the molecular bonds of one of the world’s most-used plastics - polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET or polyester.

The Japanese research team sifted through hundreds of samples of PET pollution before finding a colony of organisms using the plastic as a food source.

Further tests found the bacteria almost completely degraded low-quality plastic within six weeks. This was voracious when compared to other biological agents; including a related bacteria, leaf compost and a fungus enzyme recently found to have an appetite for PET.

Read more at The Guardian.

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March 8, 2016

Australia takes the lead on responsible steel certification

By Paul Wallace, The Fifth Estate
Tuesday 8 March 2016

The global steel industry this week converged on Sydney to lay the foundations for a new global certification scheme that has been five years in the making.

To be launched in 2017, the Responsiblesteel scheme will extend well beyond environmental criteria to take into account ethical and community considerations as well as reporting, product design and biodiversity.

Through the newly formed not-for-profit Steel Stewardship Council (an offshoot of the Steel Stewardship Forum), the scheme has been driven by Australian industry, despite its minnow status in terms of steel production globally.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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March 3, 2016

Refurbished mobile phones: consumer perceptions and how to increase uptake

A recent survey of Dutch mobile phone owners has identified why some consumers buy refurbished mobile phones while others buy new ones.
Some consumers perceived refurbished phones to be inferior, which was a major barrier to their purchase. The study’s authors make a number of recommendations to increase consumer uptake of refurbished mobile phones, including promoting the financial and environmental benefits and offering warranties.

In a circular economy, the life of consumer goods is extended by recovering, repairing and re-using already-used products. This cycle reduces waste and use of precious resources. The concept is at the heart of the EU’s drive towards sustainable consumption and production and is the basis for the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy.

This study explored consumer perceptions of refurbished mobile phones. The researchers conducted 20 semi-structured interviews with Dutch mobile phone users. Ten participants had recently purchased a refurbished mobile phone (defined as ‘a used phone, which is collected, restored, updated and resold by a professional company’) and 10 had purchased new phones of the same brand as the refurbished phones.

Based on a theoretical model of the consumer decision-making process, the researchers analysed the interviews to look for patterns that might reveal what drives people to choose new and refurbished products.

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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March 2, 2016

U.S. Plastics Industry Pursues Zero Net Waste

WASHINGTON, DC, March 2, 2016 (ENS) – The Plastics Industry Trade Association Monday launched the Zero Net Waste program, a tool for members to use to evaluate waste reduction opportunities and maximize landfill diversion.

The ZNW program will provide plastics companies with a concrete set of resources they can use to pursue, and achieve, zero net waste in their facilities and offices.

The Society of the Plastics Industry, SPI, now known as the Plastics Industry Trade Association, or just SPI, set up an Emerging Trends Subcommittee as part of its Recycling Committee. Chaired by Kathy Xuan, CEO of PARC Corp, the subcommittee came up with the Zero Net Waste idea, which was then developed by a broader workgroup of SPI members.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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March 2, 2016

Most electrical goods bought online have misleading energy labels, study finds

Arthur Neslen
Wednesday 2 March 2016 05.01 GMT

Most electrical goods bought online have either been given a misleading energy label or none at all, according to a three-year survey across 11 European countries.

By law, energy performance energy labels for products such as dishwashers, ovens and fridges must be displayed as prominently on a website as they are in shops.

But a study by MarketWatch, a group of civil society organisations, found that 20% of online goods had no label, 1% had the wrong label, and 35% were displayed in outdated or inaccessible forms.

These included pop-up boxes that consumers could only find by scrolling down to poorly advertised links at the bottom of the page.

Up to 10% of Europe’s expected energy savings by 2020 could be lost as a result of non-compliant products, the paper says - as much as the current residential electricity consumption of central and east Europe.

Read more at The Guardian.

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February 26, 2016

South Africa reforms public procurement to save R25bn

posted by Anna Scott
in Procurement, Public sector

South Africa’s finance minister has set out reforms to public purchasing processes that it is hoped will save the government R25bn out of an annual procurement spend of R500bn.

Pravin Gordhan announced in Wednesday’s budget for 2016-17 that it will become mandatory for all government procurement of goods and services to be undertaken through centrally negotiated contracts.

The government is holding talks with its top 100 suppliers to reduce prices and renegotiating contracts for banking services, ICT infrastructure, health technology and learner support materials, he added.

In addition, the procurement process must now be managed through the eTender portal, and no tenders can be submitted on paper. The automated process is expected to reduce corruption by lowering the risk of human intervention to override established protocols, Gordhan claimed.

Read more at CIPS Supply Management News.

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February 25, 2016

Two innovators helping to improve recycling in China

TheCityFix
Thursday 25 February 2016

From air pollution to intense traffic congestion, China faces an array of environmental and resource challenges, many of which are a result of its urbanization and development over the past few decades.

In Beijing—as across most of the country—concerns over unsafe drinking water have spurred many residents to turn to bottled water and other bottled beverages to ensure safety and quality, driving up the number of discarded plastic bottles. Without a municipal recycling system in place, migrant workers are often involved with recycling plastic bottles, selling them in bulk to recycling yards.

However, a few innovators have recognized the economic opportunity in this field and have recently stepped in to help improve recycling in China’s cities.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 25, 2016

Strengthened Integration Needed for Effective Action on Air Pollution, Sustainable Consumption, Green Economy

Nairobi, 24 February 2016 - Governments and regional organizations met at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Headquarters this week to strengthen the integrated approach to addressing top environmental priorities, such as air quality, sustainable use of resources and transitioning to green economy.

Outcomes of this meeting will determine the second United Nations Environment Assembly's (UNEA's) approach to integration as it gathers in Nairobi, in May, to decide on key environmental issues embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The meeting came on the heels of the Open Ended Committee of Permanent Representatives to UNEP, held in Nairobi last week, which has set the stage for key UNEA decisions, including addressing the environmental aspects of global humanitarian crises and human health risks.

In his opening remarks, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: "To implement the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreements, and ensure we meet our ambitious goals, humanity must work together on a scale unprecedented in history. Tackling each goal separately, working within our own silos, will ultimately lead to trade-offs that will hamper implementation."

UNEP has pioneered the integrated approach to environmental action with several long running, successful initiatives, which have delivered across the three dimensions of sustainable development: the social, the economical and the environmental.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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February 24, 2016

Consumers have huge environmental impact

NORWEGIAN UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

The world's workshop -- China -- surpassed the United States as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on Earth in 2007. But if you consider that nearly all of the products that China produces, from iPhones to tee-shirts, are exported to the rest of the world, the picture looks very different.

"If you look at China's per capita consumption-based (environmental) footprint, it is small," says Diana Ivanova, a PhD candidate at Norwegian University of Science and Technology's Industrial Ecology Programme. "They produce a lot of products but they export them. It's different if you put the responsibility for those impacts on the consumer, as opposed to the producer."

That's exactly what Ivanova and her colleagues did when they looked at the environmental impact from a consumer perspective in 43 different countries and 5 rest-of-the-world regions. Their analysis, recently published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, showed that consumers are responsible for more than 60 per cent of the globe's greenhouse gas emissions, and up to 80 per cent of the world's water use.

Read more at EurekAlert!

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February 22, 2016

Indonesia could collaborate with RSPO, official study finds

By Jonathan Vit, Mongabay
Monday 22 February 2016

The Indonesian government’s sustainable palm oil certification program announced the findings of a joint study with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil on Wednesday that details how the two systems might collaborate in the country’s problem-fraught oil palm industry.

The study, which took two years to complete, marks a significant step in developing a working relationship between the agriculture ministry and external sustainability schemes like the RSPO, an industry-led association whose members agree to adhere to more stringent standards than those dictated by Indonesian law.

“Findings from the joint study showed how ISPO and RSPO could complement each other and offer robust solutions for all stakeholders beyond what each could accomplish alone,” said Tiur Rumondang, head of the RSPO’s Indonesia office.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 19, 2016

European Commission passes new thresholds for public procurement

The European Commission has amended the thresholds for when EU procurement law applies for the next two years. If an organisation spends less than the threshold, then EU law does not apply. If they spend more, they must take into account the directive in full. The thresholds came into effect on 1 January 2016 and will remain in place until the end of 2017. The procurement directive is expected to be transposed into the national law of each EU member state by 18 April 2016.

The revised threshold for supply and service contracts awarded by central government authorities is €135,000, a €1,000 increase. For other bodies, such as sub-central contracting authorities, it is €209,000. The threshold of €750,000 for light touch regime contracts remains in place. The works contract threshold stands at €5,225,000, up from €5,186,000.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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February 19, 2016

LEDs starting to light India

India Climate Dialogue
Friday 19 February 2016

Just about a year ago, the Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP) was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The aim was to replace all 770 million incandescent bulbs used in homes and 35 million streetlights with LEDs over three years.

This, it was hoped, would result in a reduction of 20,000 MW load, energy savings of 105 billion KWh and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings of 80 million tonnes every year. The annual saving in electricity bills of consumers, it was estimated, would be Rs 40,000 crore, considering an average tariff of Rs 4 per kWh.

The initiative is very much on track.

By December 2015, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a public energy services company under the administration of Ministry of Power, announced that it had crossed the 40 million mark of distributing LED bulbs in India within a span of 25 days.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 17, 2016

How many companies does it take to change a lightbulb?

Alison Moodie
Wednesday 17 February 2016 11.00 GMT

Commercial and residential buildings accounted for 41% of all energy produced in the US in 2014, with nearly half of the country’s carbon emissions coming from business and industrial structures. Designing buildings to use energy efficiently – like installing lights that provide the same brightness using less energy, or insulating rooms well to reduce the need for heating and cooling – could save businesses a significant amount of money and reduce their carbon footprint.

In 2011, the US Department of Energy (DOE) launched its Better Buildings Challenge, an initiative to encourage companies to reduce their energy usage by at least 20% within 10 years. The initiative involves nearly 300 organizations, including commercial businesses, universities and municipalities, who collectively have saved 2% on average in energy use annually since 2011.

The latest push by the DOE is a web series, launched today, which highlights what businesses can do to cut wasteful energy. Titled “Better Buildings Challenge Swap”, the series pits two companies against each other, with corresponding team members visiting one another’s properties to pinpoint inefficient energy use and prescribe remedies. In the first few episodes, hotel chain Hilton goes head-to-head with Whole Foods in a three-day swap filmed in December in San Francisco. The DOE says it may produce more episodes if the series attracts interest from more companies.

Read more at The Guardian.

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February 17, 2016

Sustainable development impossible in Asia-Pacific without better data

By Shamshad Akhtar
Wednesday 17 February 2016

2016 marks the start of the aspirational and transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The first priority for all national governments in strategizing for implementation of the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and their 169 associated targets, is to address the strengths and weaknesses of data sources, to swiftly determine how best to address the gaps, as well as the complexities of measurement.

Rapid development of the capacities of national statistical institutions will be critical because, fifteen years from now, by the end of the 2030 Agenda, there will be nearly half a billion more people living in our region, all of whom should have reliable access to energy, food, water, education and employment.

Data are the lifeblood of decision-making. Without them, designing, monitoring and evaluating policies for sustainable development becomes almost impossible. The breadth and depth of the new development agenda entails complex decisions about the future of our planet, our communities and our economies.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 16, 2016

An Unloved Light Bulb Shows Signs of Burning Out

By Christina Nunez
PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 16, 2016

Many consumers spent the last two decades swapping out their old incandescent light bulbs for CFLs in the name of greater efficiency. The spiral tubes used less energy, saved money, lasted longer—and people hated them.

Now CFLs, or compact fluorescent lamps, are slowly disappearing from stores. Home retailer IKEA stopped selling them in all its locations last year, and now manufacturer GE has penned a cheeky Dear John letter to the technology, saying it will stop making the bulbs in the United States.

“I can see clearly now that LED is my future,” the letter says, referring to the light-emitting diodes that have gained sales as their prices drop. The latest U.S. numbers show CFL shipments down 28 percent from last year, while LEDs are up a whopping 237 percent, according to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. And under new U.S. standards proposed Friday, current CFLs won't even be efficient enough to make the cut.

While the prognosis isn’t good, the obituary for CFLs can’t be written just yet.

Read more at National Geographic.

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February 15, 2016

Five ways companies can turn trash into cash

JLL Real Views
Monday 15 February 2016

Recycling bins have long been a familiar sight in many offices, encouraging employees to do their bit with used paper and lunch packaging.

Now, some companies are making recycling work for them, turning their ‘trash into cash’ while achieving zero waste buildings.

For example, in Kawasaki, Japan, part of the Keihin Industrial Area, multiple corporations engaged in heavy industry like JFE Group and Nippon Oil Corporation and high technology such as Fujitsu, NEC Corporation, Toshiba, Dell Japan and Sigma Corporation, now divert 586,000 tons of waste from landfills annually – more than the total of municipal waste generated.

Likewise, US-based companies like Dell and Kraft are able to recycle or reuse 95 per cent of the materials used in their global manufacturing operations.

And yet, there’s a common perception that setting up zero-waste programs and infrastructure is expensive. This is not the case, says Ana Wyssmann, JLL’s Solid Waste Program Manager, who participated in a recent Greenbuild International Conference panel discussion on the subject.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 12, 2016

Trending: WRAP, Veolia Working to Optimize Recycling in UK, France

by Hannah Furlong

While waste reduction charity WRAP calls on stakeholders to do their part to help improve recycling consistency and efficiency in England, three companies in France have partnered on a circular economy initiative for small household appliances.

Today, WRAP announced the start of the second phase of its cross-industry project to improve household waste and recycling collections in England. The organization will further investigate the scenarios, models and approaches to improving recycling consistency identified in the project’s first phase, as well as publish the findings in a report this summer.

“We are looking to develop a vision for England that will offer local authorities a way to recycle greater volumes of higher quality materials whilst reducing costs, delivering good services to residents and supporting growth in the recycling sector. It won’t be a one size fits all solution and we want to work with local authorities, to demonstrate the business case for change,” Marcus Gover, Director at WRAP, said. “This is not just about what local authorities do though, all parts of the value chain have a role to play in achieving greater consistency and improving recycling.”

Resources Minister Rory Stewart added, “I urge the whole waste sector to work together with us over the coming years to deliver greater consistency in the way we recycle.”

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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February 11, 2016

RSPO launches new, stricter palm oil label

By Vaidehi Shah
Thursday 11 February 2016

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has launched a new label called RSPO Next, which allows palm oil growers to brand their products as exceeding the association’s minimum standards on environmental and social responsibility.

The industry group, which has since 2010 certified palm oil which is grown in accordance with its rules on sustainable palm oil cultivation, said on Tuesday in a statement that the new label is a voluntary add-on to its existing criteria, and companies can decide on their own timelines for compliance to the standard.

About 20 per cent of the world’s total palm oil supply is certified under the existing certification, known as the RSPO trademark.

Many palm oil giants such as Wilmar, Golden Agri-Resources and Cargill have in recent years gone beyond the basic standards to make zero-deforestation commitments, and to halt development on carbon-rich peatland, among other things.

However, these practices are not currently required to obtain the RSPO stamp and hence, the existing RSPO label does not reflect these additional efforts by companiesto break the link between palm oil and deforestation.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 5, 2016

Study: Companies Prioritizing Supply Chain Sustainability, But the Real Work Remains Ahead

by Yves Leclerc , David South

Our recent research suggests that sustainability is gaining some traction in business, yet few organizations have taken meaningful steps toward developing a green supply chain. Furthermore, North American companies lag their European counterparts.

While the concept of “sustainability” is the subject of much discussion in boardrooms, many organizations still struggle with determining what sustainability means for their businesses and supply chains — and more significantly, with committing the resources necessary to make meaningful change.

West Monroe Partners and the Supply and Value Chain Center at Loyola University Chicago wanted to gain insight into how companies are addressing sustainability in their supply chains and adapting to changing consumer preferences. So we recently surveyed more than 50 executives of companies ranging in size from $100 million to over $120 billion across an array of industries. This study follows on our previous year’s research, which examined whether consumers would be willing to pay more or wait longer to have products delivered sustainably.

The bottom line: Just over half (51 percent) of U.S. supply chain and sustainability leaders said they consider developing a sustainable supply chain a current strategic priority, and an additional 36 percent plan to address it in the short, mid or long term. The leading motivators for pursuing sustainability initiatives are brand improvement, followed by innovation in products and processes. Factors such as cost-reduction opportunities, competition, and lobbying have had less influence.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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February 4, 2016

Green shops make more money

By Vaidehi Shah
Thursday 4 February 2016

Retail shop owners who include sustainable features such as natural light, greenery, and ample ventilation into their stores can expect happier staff and customers, and also higher profits, a new report by the World Green Building Council (WGBC) has found.

Launched on Monday, the industry body’s report, titled, Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Retail: The Impact of Green Buildings on People and Profit, discovered that while many retailers know that sustainable shop design and management can improve their business performance, they are slow to implement changes in their stores.

The report aimed to help retailers cash in on this missed opportunity by giving them a toolkit which they can use to quantify the value of sustainability on people’s well-being and ultimately, sales.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 4, 2016

GPP 2020 tutorial videos outline how to calculate energy and CO2 savings

A series of videos have been produced to guide users through the GPP 2020 carbon and energy calculators, a collection of excel tools which help procurers and decision-makers to measure the energy and carbon emissions saved by opting for a low-carbon tender rather than a standard tender. By providing this information, procurers and decision-makers can make smarter procurement choices.

Calculators are available for four product groups: Energy Contracting, Office ICT, Street Lighting, and Vehicles Calculators. Each video shows the tool being used to calculate savings in real-time, with a clear voice over explaining the process. The tool works by calculating an estimated saving against a standard tender for each product, thereby providing a clear idea of the impact of including low-carbon criteria in the tender.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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February 3, 2016

Time to crack down on car pollution - the silent killer with powerful friends

Jean Lambert, Molly Scott Cato & Keith Taylor
3rd February 2016

Air pollution from vehicles is killing tens of thousands of people every year in the UK alone, write Jean Lambert, Molly Scott Cato & Keith Taylor, an outrage set into stark focus by VW's 'test cheating'. The EU's response? To relax tests and allow cars to be more polluting - with the full support of the UK government.

Faced with a public health crisis, responsible for nearly half a million premature deaths in Europe each year, we would expect an emergency response.

We would not expect those responsible for creating such a deadly crisis to be allowed to continue getting away with it.

And it would certainly be reasonable to expect those with the power to kerb such a catastrophe take all necessary action to deal with it, rather than colluding with the perpetrators.

Read more at the Ecologist.

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February 2, 2016

Vote to Allocate Part of €1M Global Change Award to Your Favorite Circular Textile Innovation

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the US alone generates an estimated 24 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste (PCTW), which ends up in landfills each year — the equivalent of about 70 pounds of textiles per person. Larger apparel brands such as H&M and The North Face are working to help minimize textile waste through take-back programs, campaigns and collections made from recycled fabrics, while enterprising startups and even the European Union are creating circular processes and economic models.

Add to the list the solutions presented by the five winners of the first-ever Global Change Award — a €1 million challenge for early-stage innovation in the fashion industry. Introduced in August by the non-profit H&M Conscious Foundation, the goal of the Award is to catalyze bold, pioneering ideas to help protect the planet by closing the loop for fashion.

The first five winning ideas range from creating new textiles out of citrus juice by-products and an online marketplace for recycling of textile leftovers to using microbes to recycle waste polyester. Now, the global public is asked to allocate the €1 million grant between the winners in an online vote this week.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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February 2, 2016

Useful waste is win-win solution for energy and food

February 2, 2016, by Paul Brown

LONDON, 2 February, 2016 – The future is increasingly bright for renewable energy, with the US aiming to cut the price of solar photovoltaics by 75% between 2010 and 2020. Denmark plans to obtain 50% of its energy from wind just five years from now.

But one form of renewable energy – and one which attracts few headlines – manages to create two useful products at the same time, and is making a growing contribution to combatting climate change.

The medieval alchemists who sought to turn base metal into gold would have thrilled at chemistry that let them turn waste into both fuel and fertiliser. Their twenty-first century successors have discovered the secret of doing exactly that.

Unwanted food, animal waste, municipal rubbish, crop and forestry residues, sewage and dozens of other left-overs of civilisation can and are now being turned into methane to generate electricity, provide district heating and to fuel road vehicles.

Read more at Climate News Network.

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February 1, 2016

Funding problems hit plan to clean Rio's polluted waterways ahead of Olympics

Oliver Balch
Monday 1 February 2016 12.12 GMT

With the Olympic Games just months away, Rio de Janeiro has a problem: rubbish. Hundreds of tonnes of unprocessed waste flow into the Guanabara Bay every year. The problem isn’t new but the prospect of Olympic swimmers and sailors taking to Rio’s contaminated waters have put the issue in the spotlight.

Previous promises from Rio officials to “regenerate Rio’s magnificent waterways” through investment in sanitation have not delivered results. Could the Dutch environment ministry have better luck? In an ambitious and diplomatically unorthodox move it has pulled together some of the country’s leading waste experts, including businesses and NGOs, to propose a variety of innovative solutions under the name Clean Urban Delta Initiative [pdf].

“Guanabara Bay is so polluted that we need all hands on deck to solve this sooner rather than later,” says Yvon Wolthuis, a sustainability expert and co-developer of the Clean Urban Delta Initiative. “Plus, there’s so much happening in an urban bay environment like Rio that you can’t just rely on one governance model or technology to fix it.”

The initiative has backing from the World Bank and the Dutch Development Bank and aims to showcase Dutch water management expertise. It lays out 20 separate proposals to deal with Guanabara Bay’s water pollution and solid waste challenges.

Read more at The Guardian.

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January 29, 2016

European Commission promotes Clean Fleets LCC tool

A new free-to use tool, specially developed for local authorities to calculate life-cycle costs of vehicle fleets in line with the Clean Vehicles Directive (CVD), is now available via the European Commission’s Mobility and Transport site.

Developed by the Clean Fleets project with the support of the European Commission's Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, this calculator performs a lifetime cost calculation on the basis of the harmonised methodology in Art. 6 of the Clean Vehicles Directive (CVD) 2009/33/EC.

The Clean Fleets project, which ran from 2012 to 2015 and was coordinated by ICLEI Europe, produced a number of publications, tools and policy recommendations based on its work assisting local governments with the implementation of the CVD and the procurement or leasing of clean and energy-efficient vehicles.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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January 28, 2016

Study finds toxic pollutants in fish across the world's oceans

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO

A new global analysis of seafood found that fish populations throughout the world's oceans are contaminated with industrial and agricultural pollutants, collectively known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The study from researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego also uncovered some good news?concentrations of these pollutants have been consistently dropping over the last 30 years.

The findings, reported in the Jan. 28, 2016 issue of the journal PeerJ, were based on an analysis by Scripps researchers Lindsay Bonito, Amro Hamdoun, and Stuart Sandin of hundreds of peer-reviewed articles from 1969-2012. The pollutants studied included older 'legacy' chemicals, such as DDT and mercury, as well as newer industrial chemicals, such as flame retardants and coolants.

Read more at EurekAlert!

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January 27, 2016

Your guide to making the business case for saving energy in your building portfolio

Launched at Buildings Day at COP21 in December, the new WBCSD Energy Efficiency Toolkit for Buildings (EEB Toolkit) is a landmark guide for energy efficiency that outlines strategies for businesses to significantly reduce energy use across their building portfolios.

Why energy efficiency in buildings is important:
Buildings represent 40% of primary energy consumption and emit around one third of global GHG emissions of human origin; yet buildings provide great potential for delivering significant cuts in both energy use and emissions. Recent advances in technology, design practices and expertise, coupled with behavioral changes, are estimated to achieve up to a tenfold reduction in the energy requirements of individual new buildings and up to a fourfold reduction for individual existing buildings, largely cost-effectively or sometimes even at net negative costs.

The EEB toolkit is a practical guide with a focus on the business case to support decision making on energy efficiency measures. It provides an approach that is applicable to all buildings (e.g. offices, factories, warehouses, laboratories, etc.).

Read more at World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The EEB Toolkit is free to use, and available online.

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January 27, 2016

Stakeholders invited to shape review of EU GPP transport criteria

The Joint Research Centre's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (JRC-IPTS), a European Commission research agency, is asking stakeholders in the field of transport to help revise the existing EU GPP criteria for Transport. The JRC-IPTS is currently conducting a study into the existing EU GPP criteria for Transport, the results of which will be used to inform the criteria review process. A wide-variety of stakeholders are invited to take part in the criteria consultation process, from local government officials to transport service providers, manufacturers to consumer organisations.

Respondents are requested to fill out a questionnaire, which registers whether they agree or disagree with the current definition of technical specifications, award criteria, and contract performance clauses for a range of transport areas. The JRC-IPTS has said that it is particularly interested in feedback regarding practical implementation of the current criteria.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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January 26, 2016

New study tracks nitrogen footprint of products made for export

Carbon Brief
Tuesday 26 January 2016

Just four countries – the US, China, India and Brazil – are responsible for almost half of the world’s total nitrogen pollution, a new study finds.

The new research maps the nitrogen ‘footprint’ of 188 countries, and finds that around a quarter of emissions come from making products that are then traded internationally.

As most of this trade takes products from poorer countries to richer ones, nitrogen pollution in developing nations is being driven by demand for food and clothing products in developed countries, the researchers say.

Nitrogen footprint

Nitrogen pollution comes in various different forms. Some of the main sources are from burning fossil fuels in cars and power stations (nitrogen oxides), processing of textiles for clothing (nitrous oxide), rearing livestock and using fertilisers (nitrous oxide and ammonia), and water run-off from industry and farming taking nitrogen into water supplies.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 25, 2016

Champions wage war on wasted food

Climate News Network
Monday 25 January 2016

Governments, businesses and citizens’ groups are joining forces to try to put some beef into efforts to cut food loss and waste in a world facing growing hunger.

Almost a third of all food produced globally − enough to feed everyone in the world for two months − is lost or wasted, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says. And not only does this cost US$940 billion annually, it also causes around 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and consumes about a quarter of all the water used by agriculture.

The new coalition, launched at the World Economic Forum meeting that ended in the Swiss resort of Davos yesterday, is called Champions 12.3 − a nod to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Production and supply
Target 3 of the SDGs’ 12th goal commits the world to specific action: “By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.”

The coalition is committed to “inspiring ambition, mobilising action, and accelerating progress toward achieving” the target. It says reducing food loss and waste can be a triple win: saving money for farmers, companies, and households; feeding more people; and alleviating pressure on climate, water, and land resources.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 22, 2016

Consumer Goods Forum Calls for Action on Forced Labor, Scale-Up of Low-Carbon Refrigeration

by Hannah Furlong

The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a group of about 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers and other global industry stakeholders, sent out two calls to action this month. The CGF is rallying the industry to fight forced labor – which affects 21 million people globally – in support of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The CGF also plans to ramp up its implementation of low-carbon refrigeration equipment among its members’ stores.

Forced labor has remained a challenge as supply chains have become more globalized and complex. As the CGF points out, global supply chains “often involve some of the poorest countries in the world with limited institutional capacity for regulation to protect workers’ rights.” The informal sector, large amounts of displaced people, and lack of transparency have led to unique challenges and ongoing human rights abuses, hampering corporate commitments to improving decent working conditions. The palm oil, seafood, and apparel industries have particularly struggled to address the problem.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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January 22, 2016

Innovation or e-waste? Apple's rumoured plan to ditch headphone jack

David Nield
Friday 22 January 2016 13.00 GMT

The annual cycle of the iPhone rumour mill has become almost as predictable as the launch of the handsets themselves. Leading the charge of this year’s batch of tittle-tattle is that the 3.5mm headphone jack is being ditched for the iPhone 7.

It could make sense for Apple. Getting rid of the jack would allow it to make the handset even thinner, while potentially selling more products. Users are less enamoured with the idea, however, and a petition to keep the 3.5mm socket has attracted more than 290,000 signatures.

“Apple is about to rip off every one of its customers. Again,” reads the petition’s blurb. “This is right out of the Apple corporate playbook.”

Apple has never been shy about changing component design and leaving older technology behind. From getting rid of DVD drives in its laptops, to swapping the 30-pin iDevice connector for the Lightning port upgrade and releasing its latest MacBook with just one data and charging port, the focus is on creating super-thin, super-light products.

Read more at The Guardian.

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January 21, 2016

European Commission adopts procurement paper designed to reduce administrative work

The European Commission has officially adopted the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD), a policy paper designed to make it easier for businesses to apply for public contracts. The ESPD allows companies to self-certify that they are eligible to apply for public contracts, greatly reducing the current administrative burden.

While the current system varies by country, in most cases suppliers are required to provide full documentation proving their abilities and financial status. Under the new system, only the winning bidder will be required to provide such documents. It is hoped that by lowering the amount of paperwork necessary, more small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) will be able to participate in the bidding process.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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January 19, 2016

Cities showcase sustainable energy solutions on CEPPI website

The CEPPI team, comprised of expert partners Jera, Optimat, Steinbeis Transferzentrum and ICLEI, has launched the CEPPI project website to showcase the sustainable energy solutions being developed by the five participating cities: Birmingham (UK), Budapest (Hungary), Castelló and Valencia (Spain), and Wrocław (Poland). By using a pro-innovation procurement approach, these cities aim to achieve energy savings of 33GWh per year.

This 3-year project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, intends to build the cities’ capacity in the fields of public procurement of innovation (PPI) and sustainable public procurement (SPP). Public authorities have started identifying the possible areas of intervention and related information has been published on the CEPPI website - Birmingham City Council, for example, announced its interest in procurements related to its waste strategy; Budapest is exploring the implementation of PPI practices in tenders to retrofit the City Hall; Valencia is looking at city lighting, fountain systems and sports centres; and Wrocław is considering a focus on street lighting modernisation.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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January 18, 2016

The key to sustainable growth in Asia Pacific

By Shamshad Akhtar
Monday 18 January 2016

Economic and financial stability in Asia is critical as we embark on the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – a universal and ambitious blueprint that expands the horizons of policymaking to implement the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals, reduce the region’s collective environmental footprint and secure the resources necessary to build the future we want.

The Asia-Pacific region remains uniquely positioned to deliver on these promises, given its growth record and potential, resource base, achievements of the Millennium Development Goals, as well as its innovation and dynamism. As the region leads on the 2030 Agenda, however, it has to tackle not only the long term challenges posed by its immense population, (60 percent of the global population) and its significant contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions (53 per cent), but must also gear itself for high and sustainable economic growth, backed by efforts to enhance economic and financial resilience.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 15, 2016

Is eco-certification the solution to forest destruction?

By Saul Elbein, Mongabay
Friday 15 January 2016

In September 2015, a Peruvian cargo ship dropped off 71 shipping containers of rainforest wood on the docks of Houston, Texas. At 3.8 million pounds, the shipment was an ample demonstration of the continued flow of lumber from tropical countries into the Northern Hemisphere; laid out end to end it would have covered “several football fields” and had a retail value of $300,000, the Houston Chronicle reported.

And the wood’s fate shows the criminal practices that still haunt that trade: in early December, American customs officials blocked the import of the shipment, announcing that the wood had been cut illegally and shipped out of Peru on fraudulent permits. Peruvian police carried out further raids in the Amazonian port of Iquitos, resulting in the biggest bust of illegal wood in Peruvian history.

The busts were a black mark for a system intended to marshal the power of markets to protect the world’s forests from destructive logging, among other threats. Since the early 1990s, when attempts to build a system of international law to save the world’s tropical forests collapsed, a union of thousands of civil society, environmental, and corporate groups has turned their hope to the market.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 14, 2016

Re-using resources in cities: a Dutch casestudy

Dense urban environments have significant resource-saving potential and serve as good platforms for climate change mitigation. This study reviewed an initiative to improve use of energy and water in Rotterdam, highlighting factors important for success including exchanges in close geographic proximity and private-sector participation.

Over half of the global population now live in cities. In Europe the proportion is even higher — cities house around three-quarters of the population. Yet as cities expand, so do their environmental challenges. Home to increasingly large populations, cities use lots of natural resources. Cities also generate pollutants, namely greenhouse gases (GHGs). In fact, cities are responsible for over 70% of global energy-related CO2 emissions.

Cities therefore have high potential for addressing environmental challenges. One way of doing this is by making better use of materials. A concept growing in popularity is that of ‘urban symbiosis’, which aims to break linear relationships between consumption and waste by returning outputs as inputs, e.g. converting waste heat into reusable energy, recycling wastewater or water from industrial processes. This has dual benefits; as cities improve the efficiency of their resource use, they also reduce their GHG 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.
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/reusing_resources_in_cities_a_dutch_case_study_442na4_en.pdf

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January 14, 2016

New factsheets provide clarity on bio-based products

The EU-funded InnProBio project has produced the first of a series of factsheets containing information on bio-based products and services. The publication helps to define bio-based products, providing an insight into the primary differences with traditional products.

The first factsheet highlights the benefits of bio-based products, such as their potential to reduce the economy’s dependence on fossil fuels, create green jobs in the European Union, and drive European innovation. The link between bio-based products and sustainability is also outlined.

The section From biomass to bio-based products shows, in a very visual way, different biomass materials that can be used to create products (known as “feedstocks”), such as sugar, starch and natural rubber, as well as bio-based intermediates, such as fibres, polymers and composites, and bio-based end products. Factsheet #1 is available online. The InnProBio team is currently working on the following factsheets.

For more information, visit the InnProBio website.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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January 11, 2016

Redesigning the recycling industry

Low raw material costs have dealt a heavy blow to the recycling industry. The French recycling federation (FEDEREC) believes the sector needs a complete overhaul to stay afloat in the coming years. Our partner Journal de l'Environnement reports.

FEDEREC published its view of the future of recycling in a white paper entitled "The recycling industry by 2030." In the preface to this 70-page document, a frank discussion of the problems facing the industry and how they might be solved, Corinne Lepage, a Republican politician, evoked a sector "devastated by an oil price that is so low that it is driving us back towards a linear economy, as it is cheaper today to buy primary raw materials than recycled raw materials".

But according to the former French environment minister, other factors also explain "this economic nonsense, which is made possible by an absence of pressure to absorb external costs, particularly the cost of carbon, which burdens recyclers and the whole of the reuse industry".

Read more at EurActiv.com.

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January 7, 2016

Enabling the clean energy revolution

By Jean Chua
Thursday 7 January 2016

Across Asia, companies and governments are adopting more renewable energy as concerns over climate change and carbon emissions move up the development agenda. The Asian Development Bank estimates that the share of renewables in electricity generation in the region will increase from 1.9 per cent in 2010 to 7.1 per cent in 2035.

As these new sources such as wind, solar and hydropower become part of the electrical grid, they also introduce instability as energy is produced only under certain weather conditions. Utility operators must therefore find a way to keep the grid stable, says Sven Wagner, Director, ConnectedEnergy at Bosch Software Innovations in a recent interview.

Smart grid software not only helps manage this variability by automatically shifting energy to where it is needed in the grid, it also enables consumers to use energy more efficiently, he says. The software uses smart meter data and sensors which measure and monitor electricity consumption, feed-in and flows within the grid, analyse the information and automatically execute decisions to optimise the grid’s operations.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 7, 2016

Environmental taxation in the right place can increase business productivity

Environmental regulation is essential to limit the effects of human activity on the environment. However, some claim that this generates additional costs for businesses, and thus negatively affects industrial competitiveness. The argument put forward is that complying with environmental regulations generates higher operating costs, and so may decrease investments, productivity, and profit margins.

In the 1990s, this view was challenged by economist Michael Porter. He suggested quite the opposite – that strict environmental regulations improve efficiency, promote innovation and increase commercial competitiveness. The hypothesis of his name proposes that properly designed environmental regulations, even if stringent, can improve firms’ innovation and productivity by highlighting underlying inefficiencies, with a further positive effect on other sectors and even on national economic competitiveness.

However, empirical studies have failed to reach a conclusion on whether these effects are really occurring. This study put the Porter hypothesis to test, by investigating the effect of environmental regulations on innovation and productivity in manufacturing companies in Europe. The researchers assessed eight European countries and 13 different manufacturing sectors over the years 2001–2007. The EU-funded researchers used an empirical framework, which investigates the links between the strictness of environmental regulation, innovation, and productivity.

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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January 5, 2016

The great bathroom debate: paper towel or hand dryer?

By Simon Lockrey
Tuesday 5 January 2016

It’s the age-old question that continues to baffle many of us in the bathroom: when you come to drying your hands, should you reach for the paper towel, or the electric dryer?

For some, this decision might be related to hygiene, and for others, drying performance. For many, environmental concerns are also an important consideration, no doubt motivated by the fact that our daily activities contribute to the complex web of growing sustainability pressures facing the planet.

So how might we decide which of the two most common methods of drying our hands — paper towel or an electric dryer - is the most effective, and environmentally friendly, without resorting to the convenient wipe on the trousers?

Life cycle analysis is a method long used to identify life cycle environmental impacts of products and services, including materials, manufacturing, transport, use, and end of life (e.g. disposal).

Using this analysis, we can search out “hot spots” - those parts of the life cycle which have higher impacts - to identify the most important aspects for our analysis.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 1, 2016

D.C. Styrofoam Ban Starts: Will Styrofoam Get the Plastic Bag Treatment?

By: Kevin Mathews
January 1, 2016

Say farewell to Styrofoam take-out containers in the nation’s capital. It’s been a few years in the making, but Washington, D.C. has finally enacted a firm ban on polystyrene food and beverage containers. Henceforth, all restaurants will have to provide biodegradable alternatives if they want to send their patrons home with leftovers.

The ordinance is a big score for the environment since Styrofoam is a harmful material that takes hundreds of years to decompose. Although it was recently discovered that mealworms can safely digest polystyrene, that’s not currently a practical approach to handling the world’s massive foam waste problem. As it stands, Styrofoam products account for about 30 percent of all space in landfills in the U.S. Altogether, Americans toss approximately 25 billion Styrofoam cups each year.

Styrofoam may be a nationwide problem, but lawmakers also factored in local concerns when deciding to enact the ban. The city has undergone a serious effort to clean the highly polluted Anacostia River, and the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) notes that foam containers are some of the most common types of litter fished out of the river. By eliminating Styrofoam boxes and cups, the river should become that much cleaner.

The D.C. law pertains specifically to food and drink containers obtained at restaurants. Styrofoam will still be allowed for a number of other uses, including to pack and ship food products. The DOEE says it will conduct regular inspections to determine that food industry businesses are complying with the law, and it invites citizens to call in tips to report restaurants that continue to serve Styrofoam.

Read more at Care2.

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December 30, 2015

The top 5 waste management stories in 2015

By Medilyn Manibo
Wednesday 30 December 2015

The crucial role of government policies in sustainable waste management grabbed the limelight this year.

More cities and companies recognise that landfills and oceans are not the righful place for waste, and that they should be circulating waste back into the economy as new products - in the form of biogas, fertiliser or a new pair of shoes.

Here are our top 5 picks for 2015:
1. Addressing food waste
This year saw big initiatives from some countries and large companies that address the issue of food waste. In France, a law on food waste will take effect in January 2016 while Paris-based Consumer Goods Forum, a network of 400 global food and drink companies, has pledged to halve the food it throws away by 2025.

In Singapore, the government has stepped up efforts to address the issue and has now piloted a food waste collection system where the waste will be converted into compost. It also invested in a new project aimed at producing biogas for electricity generation by mixing the collected food waste with water sludge which comes from the Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant.

The trend seems to be catching on in cities worldwide. New York City also unveiled plans in August to require restaurants in hotels, sporting venues, food manufacturers and wholesalers to recycle all food waste.

Meanwhile, in Melbourne, Australia, instead of giving a thumbs-up to a zero food waste initiative by local restaurant Brothl, the city government shut the business down. Brothl’s owner Joost Bakker refused to pay the authorities AUD$12,500 for placing its composter in the laneway behind the restaurant.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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December 28, 2015

Global reductions in mercury emissions should lead to billions in economic benefits for U.S.

Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office
December 28, 2015

Mercury pollution is a global problem with local consequences: Emissions from coal-fired power plants and other sources travel around the world through the atmosphere, eventually settling in oceans and waterways, where the pollutant gradually accumulates in fish. Consumption of mercury-contaminated seafood leads to increased risk for cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairments.

In the past several years, a global treaty and a domestic policy have been put in place to curb mercury emissions. But how will such policies directly benefit the U.S.?

In a new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, MIT researchers report that global action on reducing mercury emissions will lead to twice the economic benefits for the U.S., compared with domestic action, by 2050. However, those in the U.S. who consume locally caught freshwater fish, rather than seafood from the global market, will benefit more from domestic rather than international mercury regulations.

Read more at MIT News.

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December 24, 2015

RSPO makes palm oil maps public

By Vaidehi Shah
Thursday 24 December 2015

The industry association for sustainable palm oil announced on Friday that it will make its members’ concession maps public, in a bid to improve the monitoring and enforcement of its rules for environmentally and socially responsible cultivation.

After two years of legal uncertainty, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) said that by the middle of next year, it will publish digital maps of all its members’ palm oil concessions except those in Malaysia, where it is not legal to do so yet.

The maps will be published on the Global Forest Watch Fires online portal, which is managed by US non-profit World Resources Institute.

Green groups agreed that this move marked some progress towards transparency, but maintained that it did little to solve the wider problem of unsustainable palm oil practices.

Annisa Rahmawati, forest campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia, said that many of RSPO’s non-grower members continue to buy palm oil from firms which are not RSPO members, and therefore have no obligation to make their maps public. She cited edible fat processing firm IOI Loders Croklaan as an example.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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December 21, 2015

Copenhagen adopts energy efficient smart lamps

Copenhagen’s (Denmark) outdoor street lamps are getting an upgrade, with 20,000 energy-efficient LED lamps to be installed in 2016. Energy savings of around 57 percent are expected, which is enough to power 4,500 homes in the Danish capital. In addition to saving energy, the new lights will be fitted with smart capabilities. Maintenance officials will be able to remotely dim or brighten the lamps, and will be automatically alerted if repairs are required.

The technology installed in the lamps will also enable it to detect approaching cyclists and shine extra light, improving journey safety. Around half of Copenhagen’s outdoor street lights will be replaced, with the local government deciding to sell the old models at auction, giving potential buyers the chance to own a piece of Copenhagen history.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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December 17, 2015

GM Advancing Global Zero-Waste Goal by Making Shoes, Washing Rags

Making shoe soles and washing solvent-drenched rags instead of discarding disposables are two ways General Motors is approaching its aspirational goal of becoming a zero-waste manufacturer.

With the addition of six landfill-free sites in Mexico and England, the company’s industry-leading landfill-free count totals 131 facilities.

Luton Assembly and Ellesmere Port Assembly achieved landfill-free status, making all 18 Opel/Vauxhall manufacturing plants in Europe landfill-free, which means daily waste is recycled, reused or converted to energy.

The addition of two engine plants, a warehouse, and technical center at GM’s Toluca, Mexico complex mean all of GM de Mexico assembly, engine and transmission plants plus various non-manufacturing operations such as the company’s global headquarters in Detroit — a total of 16 facilities — send no waste to landfills.

“Our global progress in waste reduction is possible because of employee participation, creative ideas, and a strong supplier network,” said Jim DeLuca, GM’s EVP of Global Manufacturing. “Our teams understand the positive impact of this initiative and they drive it in their facilities every day.”

The Toluca facilities work closely with resource management suppliers to find uses for their byproducts, such as turning polystyrene foam packaging into footwear (see infographic, right). GM takes the material to a warehouse where it is baled, and then sent to be crushed and densified into pellets. Those pellets are combined with other polymers to create shoe soles.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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December 16, 2015

African nations to phase out lead in paint by 2020

[ADDIS ABABA] African countries have agreed to cooperate in setting limits for use of lead in paints with a view to phasing it out by 2020.

This is because of its dangers to human beings, especially to children, and the environment.

In a workshop jointly organised by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Persistent Organic Pollutants Elimination Network early this month in Ethiopia (2-4 December), speakers observed that paints containing lead additives pose major risks to human health, and that manufacturers need to stop their use.

“Lead is an environmental toxicant and needs to be eliminated from paints as has been done with motor vehicle fuel,” said Eisaku Toda, a senior programme officer of UNEP, adding that governments in African countries should introduce standards and restrictions on its use.

He said that the WHO lists lead among the top ten environmental health hazards globally, and African countries should take initiatives such as introducing regulatory frameworks to control its use with a view to eventually eliminating it from paints.

Read more at Sci Dev Net.

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December 16, 2015

Environmental group sues VW for emission cheating

China.Org
Wednesday 16 December 2015

A domestic environmental group has filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen over the company’s cheating on emissions readings.

It is the first public-interest lawsuit in China related to pollution from automobile exhaust. The group said it hopes to attract attention to the need to supervise motor vehicle exhaust.

China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, an NGO based in Beijing, said it entered the case against the German auto giant because it “produced the problematic vehicles for the pursuit of higher profits and circumvented Chinese laws, which has worsened the air pollution and affected public health and rights”.

“Such behavior has violated the law on product quality, environmental protection and tort liability. So we filed the case,” Wang Wenyong, a lawyer for the group, said on Monday.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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December 15, 2015

Feedback invited on new global sustainable procurement standard

A new standard developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) that provides guidance on integrating sustainability into procurement processes is open for public comments until 12 January 2016. The development of ISO 20400 is part of a two year programme of work that has seen countries across the world provide input. The standard is intended to be a world-wide solution, and was created partly in response to the increased globalisation of supply chains and the greater involvement of multi-national organisations.

The primary purpose of the standard is to define sustainable procurement, provide information on impacts and aspects to be considered across different procurement activities, and to give practical information. It aims to be applicable to both public and private organisations, and can be broken down into four primary components. The first looks at fundamentals, outlining the scope and principles of sustainable procurement and examining the organisational benefits of engaging in this type of procurement.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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December 14, 2015

Epson paper-recycling printer coming soon

From: Leon Kaye , Triple Pundit, More from this Affiliate
Published December 14, 2015 06:42 AM

Printing boarding passes is sooooo 2005. Seriously, does anyone still print? My handy HP all-in-one printer collects more dust than print jobs. While it is true that most paper comes from managed forests, most of us just do not really have the need to print — a trend the paper industry, including the Paper and Packaging Board, whines about endlessly.

But sometimes we do need to print — for example, editing is easier for me to do on paper than staring at that laptop screen. And as an office tactic, distributing handouts at a meeting is a way to keep those rude colleagues’ eyes on the whiteboard and hands off their smartphones.

So, what if the office had printers that recycled shredded paper into new 8×10 or A4 sheets, creating a closed-loop recycling system within the office?

Epson, one of the world’s most popular printer manufacturers, is doing just that.

Read more at Environmental News Network.

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December 10, 2015

SPP Regions website provides guidance on sustainable public procurement of innovation

The newly launched SPP Regions website showcases the creation and strengthening of networks of public authorities focused on sustainable public procurement (SPP) and public procurement of innovation (PPI) in seven European regions.

The networks in Barcelona (Xarxa de Ciutats i Pobles cap a la Sostenibilitat), South West England (PIPEN), Bulgaria (Bulgarian SPPI Network), Copenhagen, Torino (APE), Metropolitan Region Rotterdam – The Hague, and West France (RGO) are co-operating on tendering for eco-innovative solutions and building capacity to implement sustainable and innovative purchasing practices.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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December 9, 2015

The Italians fighting against an 'invasion' of palm oil

Sarah Hucal
Wednesday 9 December 2015 05.00 GMT

Mozzarella, ciabatta, Parma ham … when considering Italy’s culinary landscape, palm oil is unlikely to feature high on the list – if at all. Yet the Mediterranean country is the EU’s second largest (pdf) importer of the oil, which some estimate is found in 90% of biscuits and baked goods in Italian supermarkets.

Not everyone in Italy is happy about this, with critics voicing concerns over the health impacts of an ingredient high in saturated fat as well as over the commodity’s links to deforestation in south-east Asia. A survey earlier this year, for example, found (pdf) 37% of those polled in Italy considered palm oil to be bad for the environment, up from 18% last year.

Is “palm oil free” the way forward?

With such a complicated subject, it’s not surprising Italy is divided over how best to approach palm oil.

Over the past year more than 160,000 people have signed a “stop the invasion of palm oil” petition created by Italian online magazine Il Fatto Alimentare. The magazine has been campaigning to reduce the use of palm oil in food products on health and environmental grounds, compiling lists of biscuits and other snack foods made without the oil.

Read more at The Guardian.

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December 9, 2015

Reducing emissions through sustainable public procurement at COP21

UNEP, ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability, and the Korean Environmental Institute for Technology and Innovation (KEITI) hosted a session on Saturday 5 December at the Cities and Regions Pavilion to raise awareness about the potential of sustainable public procurement (SPP) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The discussion focused on how to measure the GHG emissions stemming from public procurement. Three members of the 10 year framework programme on sustainable public procurement (10YFP on SPP) presented case studies from Europe, Asia and North America that illustrate the role SPP can play in reducing emissions.

The goal of the 10 YFP on SPP is to build the case for SPP on a global scale and support the implementation of SPP on the ground. The session saw UNEP, ICLEI, KEITI, and the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC) showcase practical ways to reduce GHG emissions through SPP, as well as outline methods to effectively monitor impacts. Mark Hidson, Global Director of ICLEI’s Sustainable Procurement Centre, emphasised the importance of monitoring as a powerful communication tool for encouraging sustainable procurement.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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December 4, 2015

Don't buy a product, save the world?

By Kim Yen White
Friday 4 December 2015

There is no escaping the fact that shopping season is upon us; stores declare their oversized discounts on equally oversized signs on display windows, newspapers bulge with inserts boasting the best deals, junk mail folders contain double the number of pages and exclamations promising huge savings.

From these indications alone, one would think the driving force of today’s civilisation involves relentless, if not indiscriminate, consumption. If there is one thing that an environmentally-responsible business grapples with, it is toeing the line at increasing profit margins without creating excess need and output. How do you develop a viable business model that balances profit growth viability with eco-consciousness?

The answer, it seems, might lie in “anti-marketing”. Consider REI, a company that sells outdoor sport equipment via a co-op system in which members (instead of shareholders) can purchase products and also receive dividends (in lieu of discounts) at the end of each financial year. This year, instead of enticing members via sale prices, the company is opting to close its stores on Black Friday (traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year in the US) with the message to its workers to spend the day outdoors.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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December 2, 2015

EU puts recycling on the agenda at Paris climate talks

Arthur Neslen Brussels
Wednesday 2 December 2015 16.17 GMT

Europe has put recycling on the agenda of the Paris climate talks with a raft of new waste targets to cut emissions, with its environment commissioner calling on other countries to follow the EU’s lead.

Under the new goals, by 2030 European countries will have to recycle 65% of their municipal rubbish and 75% of their product packaging, as well as reducing landfill dumping to a maximum of 10% of overall waste disposal. The targets, some of which are binding, are expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2-4% within 15 years.

On Thursday, the bloc’s environment commissioner, Karmenu Vella will call on delegates in Paris to match the EU.

“The world will need many individual measures like these, whose cumulative effect will be far greater than their individual impact,” Vella will say, according to a prepared speech seen by the Guardian.

The commissioner singles out the potential of waste reuse to curb carbon-intensive production processes, adding that “more cuts will come by reducing methane emissions from landfills.”

By expanding the use of eco-labels, “we [will] bring about savings that exceed the annual primary energy consumption of Italy,” he will say. “This translates into reduced greenhouse gas emissions of 340m tonnes of CO2 equivalent, more than 7% of total EU emissions in 2010, for example, and close to €500 saved each year for the average household.”

However, most of the new goals are diminutions of a previous package that the commission’s vice-president, Frans Timmermans , had promised to make “more ambitious”.

Read more at The Guardian.

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December 1, 2015

England urged to urgently improve stalled recycling rates

Press Association
Tuesday 1 December 2015 17.09 GMT

England must urgently improve its recycling rates if it is to reach European Union targets by 2020, according to one of Britain’s biggest waste companies.

David Palmer-Jones, the chief executive of Suez recycling and recovery in the UK, said England is trailing behind the EU after new figures show there has only been a marginal increase in recycling in England over the last two years.

The Regional Household recycling rates, published today by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), reveal that the rate of recycling in English households from March 2014 to March 2015 was 44.7% - an increase of 0.5% since 2013.

The EU target is for the UK to recycle at least 50% of its waste by 2020.

Recycling rates have actually dropped in London and the East Midlands, where there have been declines of 0.8% and 1.2% respectively.

The drop represents London’s second successive decline, and Palmer-Jones said greater focus is needed in these areas of high population.

Read more The Guardian.

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December 1, 2015

EU bans wasteful lamps in favour of efficient alternatives

The EU is helping to move the European market towards more energy efficient light bulbs by upholding a ban against a certain class of halogen lamps. Mains-voltage directional halogen lamps will be phased out of the European market from September 2016 onwards due to their high-level of inefficiency.

The move has been controversial among the business community with many coming out both in favour of and against the ban. LightingEurope, the trade association representing actors in the lighting industry, has criticised the ruling, stating that the move restricts consumer choice and is likely to "cause confusion".

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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November 30, 2015

How Billionaires Gates, Bezos and Zuckerberg Could Boost Clean Energy

By Wendy Koch, National Geographic
PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 30, 2015

They’re more than a who’s who of Silicon Valley. The new billionaires’ clean energy club consists of the world’s biggest tech titans, including leaders in India and China.


Microsoft founder Bill Gates announced Monday, the first day of two-week UN climate talks in Paris, that a group of 28 private investors will help countries shift from fossil fuels to energy sources that do not emit planet-warming greenhouse gases.

“Current government funding levels for clean energy are simply insufficient to meet the challenges before us,” the Breakthrough Energy Coalition says on its website. What the group promises is a “different kind of investor with a long term commitment” and "patient" capital.

Gates says the investors aim to get clean-energy ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace. In a blog post, he says that while solar and wind power could help meet the 50 percent increase in global energy demand expected by 2050, "we also need to invent new approaches."

Read more at National Geographic.

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November 27, 2015

COP21: Public support for tough climate deal 'declines'

By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent, BBC News

Public support for a strong global deal on climate change has declined, according to a poll carried out in 20 countries.

Only four now have majorities in favour of their governments setting ambitious targets at a global conference in Paris.

In a similar poll before the Copenhagen meeting in 2009, eight countries had majorities favouring tough action.

The poll has been provided to the BBC by research group GlobeScan.

Just under half of all those surveyed viewed climate change as a "very serious" problem this year, compared with 63% in 2009.

The findings will make sober reading for global political leaders, who will gather in Paris next week for the start of the United Nations climate conference, known as COP21.

Read more at BBC NEWS.

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November 27, 2015

Unilever to stop using coal for energy within five years

Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent
Friday 27 November 2015 00.01 GMT

Unilever, the consumer goods giant, has pledged to eliminate coal from its energy usage within five years, and derive all of its energy worldwide solely from renewable sources by 2030.

The company will become “carbon positive” by 2030, through its own use of renewables, and by investing in generating more renewable energy than it needs, selling the surplus on the markets and making it available to local communities in areas where it operates. About 40% of the company’s energy use currently comes from green sources.

Unilever made the commitment ahead of the crunch UN climate change conference in Paris, which begins this weekend.

Paul Polman, chairman of the company, told the Guardian the target was “do-able, really do-able”. He cited a new factory in China which is powered by wind and solar energy, and an office in Paris which is “carbon positive”, contributing green electricity to the power grid.

Read more at The Guardian.

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November 26, 2015

New Study Links Climate Change to Mounting Natural Disasters

IED News Release | 26 November 2015

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — More frequent floods, storms, heat waves, and droughts are connected to greater extremes in temperatures and rainfall, according to Global Increase in Climate-Related Disasters, a new study from Independent Evaluation at the Asian Development Bank. In a global analysis spanning the last four decades, the study shows that the rise in climate-related disasters is linked not only to people’s increased exposure and vulnerability, but also to changes in temperature and rainfall resulting from rising greenhouse gases.

The study, published as an ADB Economics Working Paper, is timely given the recent warnings by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other climate monitors that global temperature is already halfway to the “two degree warming” threshold for limiting catastrophic climatic impacts. Released just ahead of the United Nations climate change meetings in Paris in December, these findings add fresh urgency to cutting emissions.

Three implications are inherent in these findings. First, climate impacts are not just concerns for the distant future, but are already being felt. Second, heavy damages from climate-related disasters are being incurred by all countries, rich and poor, although the death toll has been especially high among the poor who are more likely to live in harm’s way, such as in flood-prone areas. And third, it is a mistake to think that climate action—such as switching from dirty fossil fuels to cleaner renewable sources—will hold back economic growth.

Read more at Asian Development Bank.

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November 23, 2015

How Africa's fastest solar power project is lighting up Rwanda

David Smith, Rwamagana, Rwanda
Monday 23 November 2015 10.20 GMT

“Arise, shine for your light has come,” reads a sign at the entrance to the first major solar power farm in east Africa.

The 8.5 megawatt (MW) power plant in Rwanda is designed so that, from a bird’s-eye view, it resembles the shape of the African continent. “Right now we’re in Somalia,” jokes Twaha Twagirimana, the plant supervisor, during a walkabout of the 17-hectare site.

The plant is also evidence, not only of renewable energy’s increasing affordability, but how nimble it can be. The $23.7m (£15.6m) solar field went from contract signing to construction to connection in just a year, defying sceptics of Africa’s ability to realise projects fast.

The setting is magnificent amid Rwanda’s famed green hills, within view of Lake Mugesera, 60km east of the capital, Kigali. Some 28,360 solar panels sit in neat rows above wild grass where inhabitants include puff adders. Tony Blair and Bono have recently taken the tour.

From dawn till dusk the computer-controlled photovoltaic panels, each 1.9 sq metres, tilt to track the sun from east to west, improving efficiency by 20% compared to stationary panels. The panels are from China while the inverters and transformers are from Germany.

Read more at The Guardian.

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November 23, 2015

Palm oil's big issue: Smallholders

By Vaidehi Shah
Monday 23 November 2015

If the palm oil sector wants to be environmentally and socially responsible, big businesses have to help smallholder farmers adopt sustainable cultivation methods, said industry members and financiers at the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) annual conference on Wednesday.

By offering smallholders the training, resources, and administrative support they need to improve their agricultural practices and obtain RSPO’s certification for sustainable palm oil, companies can help reduce environmental impact across the industry and improve farmers’ lives in the process.

At the industry association’s annual roundtable conference, held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Kuala Lumpur from 16 to 19 November, Kelvin Tio, managing director of Indonesian palm oil giant Asian Agri, noted that “smallholders are vital to the industry, and there are lots of opportunities to improve their yield and income”.

RSPO and its member firms already have ongoing smallholder support initiatives, but the industry can do much more to integrate these farmers into the sustainable global supply chain, noted panellists at a discussion about these independent growers.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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November 20, 2015

RSPO sets new targets for sustainable palm oil

By Vaidehi Shah
Friday 20 November 2015

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and its members on Wednesday announced new commitments to reduce the industry’s environmental impact, but warned that their efforts would only make a dent in global sustainability goals if they had government support.

At the industry association’s 13th roundtable conference at the Shangri-La hotel in Kuala Lumpur, RSPO announced that it will publish concession maps of Indonesia and other producing nations, except Malaysia, which prohibits this.

Indonesia is the world’s biggest palm oil producer, but the sector’s expansion in the country has been tainted with illegal deforestation, forest fires and labour rights abuses.

“RSPO is now clear on its legal position on this issue and reinforced its continuous support to members who are willing…to make maps public”, said the organisation in a press statement. However, the timeline and implementation details have yet to be decided.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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November 19, 2015

Yes, EVs are Cleaner than Gasoline-Powered Cars

by Leon Kaye on Thursday, Nov 19th, 2015

It’s the trick question that has left many of us stumped: from the earliest stages of manufacture to the years driving on the road until they are sent to the junkyard, are conventional automobiles or electric cars cleaner for the environment? While acknowledging that electric vehicles (EVs) emit no emissions when running on our streets and highways, many have assumed that those pesky rare earth metals in their massive batteries and the emissions associated with producing the power canceled out any environmental benefits that their drivers enjoyed.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a two-year study has provided the answer. The EV is the cleaner option, hands down.

In order to reach that conclusion, UCS researchers evaluated the entire life cycle of an EV based on the two most popular models sold in the United States—the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S. Looking at the raw materials needed to make a car, the assembly and manufacturing processes, driving, disposal and recycling, the UCS team compared the emissions of EVs to a similarly sized gasoline-powered automobile, with examples including the Ford Focus, Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback, Kia Forte5 and Volkswagen Golf.

Read more at Triple Pundit.

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November 17, 2015

Biodegradable Plastics Are Not the Answer to Reducing Marine Litter, Says UN

Washington D.C., 17 November 2015 - Widespread adoption of products labelled 'biodegradable' will not significantly decrease the volume of plastic entering the ocean or the physical and chemical risks that plastics pose to marine environment, concluded a UN report released today.

The report, "Biodegradable Plastics and Marine Litter. Misconceptions, Concerns and Impacts on Marine Environments", finds that complete biodegradation of plastics occurs in conditions that are rarely, if ever, met in marine environments, with some polymers requiring industrial composters and prolonged temperatures of above 50°C to disintegrate. There is also limited evidence suggesting that labelling products as 'biodegradable' increases the public's inclination to litter.

The report was launched to mark the 20th anniversary of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA), an intergovernmental mechanism hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, "Recent estimates from UNEP have shown as much as 20 million tonnes of plastic end up in the world's oceans each year. Once in the ocean, plastic does not go away, but breaks down into microplastic particles. This report shows there are no quick fixes, and a more responsible approach to managing the lifecycle of plastics will be needed to reduce their impacts on our oceans and ecosystems."

Read more at UNEP NEWS CENTRE.

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November 16, 2015

Business activities that do not respect human rights undermine sustainable development

Geneva, November 16 2015 – On the opening day of the fourth edition of the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) underscored its commitment to scaling up business action in support of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

The UNGPs, launched in 2011, establish an authoritative global standard on the respective roles of businesses and governments in helping ensure that companies respect human rights in their own operations and through their business relationships.

Speaking on behalf of the WBCSD, Filippo Veglio, Director of the Social Impact Cluster, underscored the fact that ”meeting basic needs and respecting human rights” has been identified as one of nine key priority areas within the WBCSD’s Action2020 platform. The latter, launched in late 2013, is a science-based action plan engaging companies to implement innovative and scalable business solutions and improve the business case for sustainability. He explained that the focus of the Council’s work lies on identifying solutions to operationalizing the UN Guiding Principles, with the aim of considerably increasing the number of companies knowing and showing that they respect human rights.

Read more at WBCSD.

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November 12, 2015

Boosting Energy Performance of Air Conditioners in ASEAN

Written by: Roap News
11/12/2015 7:52 PM

Bangkok, 13 Nov 2015: With the ASEAN market for air conditioners projected to grow annually by 10 per cent over the next five years, UNEP is working with the ASEAN Standard Harmonization Initiative for Energy Efficiency (ASEAN SHINE) to improve energy performance of room air conditioners and to establish uniform minimum energy performance standards across the countries in ASEAN.

A study undertaken by the project in October 2015 found that the increasing use of air-conditioning is pushing up electricity consumption, which is estimated to account for nearly half of total residential and commercial power demand in ASEAN economies. It also found that in some countries, the majority of room air conditioners are already above the existing national energy efficiency standards.

ASEAN-SHINE will raise and harmonize energy performance standards of conditioners and help countries develop national policy roadmaps. These roadmaps will be based on a regional road map, which sets a regional target for minimum energy performance standard for air conditioners that was endorsed by ASEAN governments this year.

Read more at UNEP Regional Office for Asia Pacific.

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November 12, 2015

Ford looks to geckos to boost the recyclability of its cars

Greg Harman
Thursday 12 November 2015 17.34 GMT

In recent years, the Ford Motor Company has aggressively sought to solve environmental problems related to its products while reducing production costs. Wasted wheat straw often burned by Canadian farmers has been blended into a plastic feature of the Ford Flex to reduce petroleum use. Plastic bottles have been converted into fibers to cover the seats of a recent hybrid research vehicle.

Now, Ford is exploring biomimicry, the practice of solving complex human problems by replicating natural systems, in the hopes of continued economic and sustainability gains. In particular, the company hopes to derive new adhesives by studying the toe pads of the Tokay gecko, which allow the lizard to race across ceilings and glass windows, an ability that has inspired a rush of adhesives research over the last decade.

For Ford, cracking the secret of the Tokay gecko toe could mean boosting recycling rates for its vehicles by a full 10%. A gecko toe-inspired adhesive would allow the car manufacturer to better separate the mishmash of plastics and foams leftover after a car is stripped of its metal insides. “If we could separate it, if we could identify different streams within it, we would stand a much better chance of being able to utilize them for higher-end applications,” said Debbie Mielewski, the senior technical leader for plastics and sustainability research at Ford.

Read more at The Guardian.

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November 11, 2015

Australia’s new emissions rules will put yet another bump in the road for diesels

By Varun Rao and Damon Honnery
Wednesday 11 November 2015

Diesel cars have been rather controversial lately, as anyone who has been following Volkswagen’s recent tribulations will know.

In the past few years diesels have surged in popularity in Australia. They now account for 19.7 per cent of all registered vehicles (up from 13.8 per cent in 2010). The number of registered diesels increased by more than 60 per cent from 2007 to 2012.

Consumers have embraced diesels mainly because of the savings delivered by their favourable fuel economy. But the Volkswagen scandal suggests that some manufacturers can design engines that meet either the requisite emissions standards or the market’s expectations of fuel economy and driveability, but might struggle to achieve both.

Australian emissions standards have generally lagged behind those of Europe and the United States, but the gap will reduce in November 2016, when Australia will adopt the full Euro 5 standard for all light vehicles.

Motorists will see the advent of hitherto unfamiliar emissions control devices, and it could potentially signal the end of the road for booming diesel sales.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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November 10, 2015

From Trees to Tigers, Case Shows Cost of Illegal Logging

By Jani Actman, National Geographic
PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 10, 2015

Lumber Liquidators’ ads are hard to miss. They’re bright yellow and boast of the hardwood floor retailer’s low prices in loud black letters. And last month, the public found out where at least some of that cheap wood comes from.

The company, which is based in Virginia, pleaded guilty in court to buying wood that had been illegally harvested in the forests of the Russian Far East, a huge forested tract that stretches from Lake Baikal to the Pacific Ocean. Illegal logging has disrupted life in the region and threatened the survival of the endangered Siberian tiger and the Amur leopard. (Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, has made preserving the Siberian tiger something of a cause célèbre.)

Lumber Liquidators bought the wood from a Chinese supplier despite knowing of its illegal source, according to the United States Department of Justice. The company agreed to pay more than $13 million as part of a plea agreement.

Read more at National Geographic.

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November 9, 2015

Palm oil: why do we care more about orangutans than migrant workers?

Laura Villadiego
Monday 9 November 2015 11.25 GMT

The thick haze that has covered vast parts of south-east Asia in recent months has put the ecological impact of the palm oil industry back in the spotlight, but the ongoing issue of tough working conditions for plantation workers remains shrouded behind a veil of silence.

When the Dutch introduced the first palm oil trees on the Indonesian island of Sumatra in the 19th century, they also brought migrants from India and China to cultivate the plantations.

Today, Indonesia and neighbouring Malaysia account for about 85% of the global production of palm oil and employ as many as 3.5 million workers to maintain plantations and harvest the most traded oil in the world.

The palm oil industry would not be possible without migrant labour. This is the conclusion of Pablo Pacheco, principal scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research, who points out that the palm oil industry in turn has promoted a “migrant flux”.

Read more at The Guardian.

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November 6, 2015

UN Environment Programme Statement on Southeast Asian Fires

Nairobi, Kenya, 6 November 2015 - UN Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner issued the following statement today regarding the ongoing fires on the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Papua:
"UNEP has observed with increasing alarm the spread of forest and peat fires on the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Papua. We are deeply concerned about the effects these fires are having not only on the health of local populations, ecosystems and wildlife, but the global climate as well.

"Reports that the fires are emitting as much carbon into the atmosphere in a day as some countries are in a year reflects the global ramifications of this disaster. Locally, one-third of the endangered wild orangutans on Borneo are threatened by the fires, and biodiversity hotspots such as the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra are under extreme threat.

"While the fires this year are particularly damaging, this is an annual, systemic issue that will need to be addressed with an integrated approach over the long term. This issue spans human health, climate change and sustainable use of ecosystem services. It is important that any solution take into account the multifaceted nature of the problem.

"Of immediate need is the issuance of a national moratorium on using fires for clearing any type of forest land until fires have stopped, rains have re-appeared and, most importantly, Indonesia has rethought how to allocate and manage peatland and its forests resources. Large-scale land owners and companies will need to be held accountable for damage caused. At the same time, there must be a major effort given over to promoting sustainable business practices, including in procurement and supply chains, and raising consumer awareness of unsustainable palm oil products.

Read more at UNEP NEWS CENTRE.

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November 6, 2015

The journey towards more sustainable rubber leads to Russian dandelions

Hannah Gould
Friday 6 November 2015 12.36 GMT

The life of a tyre begins with the rubber tree in south-east Asia, which produces around 90% of the world’s natural rubber supply. The tyre industry consumes around 70% of all natural rubber grown because it offers performance qualities, such as resistance and load-bearing capability, unmatched by synthetic alternatives.

Increasing car ownership in countries such as India and China is driving up demand for rubber. To meet this, recent research estimates rubber plantations in south-east Asia will have to expand by 8.5m hectares by 2024, with potentially “catastrophic” consequences for forests, primates and endangered birds.

The industry also faces supply chain risks. The reason that rubber production is so heavily concentrated in Asia is because commercial cultivation in South America is restricted by a fungal disease.

Dandelions: an alternative source of rubber?
To reduce dependency on the south-east Asian rubber trees, the search is on for alternatives. Research project Drive4EU is looking to the Russian dandelion.

Indigenous to the high plateau of south-east Kazakhstan, and the adjacent areas of China and Kyrgyzstan, the Russian dandelion produces a high quality of natural rubber and was used by the Soviet Union during the second world war to produce army vehicle tyres.

Read more at The Guardian.

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November 5, 2015

Support responsible sourcing to stop south east Asian smog

BY PAUL SNELL
05.11.2015

Consumers should patronise firms who have made a pledge to source responsibly to help alleviate a thick smog that affects countries in south east Asia.

According to Consumers International, the haze which affects Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia is in part caused by the burning of forests for the production of pulp, paper and palm oil plantations, mainly in Indonesia and Borneo.

The consumer rights group has called for a boycott of products produced by companies that source wood, pulp or paper products that contribute to the haze.

As it can be difficult to identify which firms are purchasing from those contributing to the fires, instead CI is asking consumers to support brands with internationally recognised symbols of responsible sourcing such as Forest Stewardship Council certification.

Read more at Supply Management.

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category : Topics

November 4, 2015

The future is here: mass-market hydrogen cars take to Britain's roads

Adam Vaughan
Wednesday 4 November 2015 13.00 GMT

The first mass production hydrogen cars, billed for more than a decade as a clean alternative to petrol and diesel vehicles but only glimpsed as concepts at automotive trade shows, have arrived on British roads.

The most abundant element in the universe has added allure for carmakers in the wake of the Volkswagen pollution scandal and revelations about the gap between lab and real-world emissions tests.

Leading the charge are South Korean manufacturer Hyundai, with a £53,000 “crossover” – a squashed SUV that looks like a normal car, and the world’s biggest carmaker, Toyota, with a futuristically styled saloon priced at £66,000. Honda has promised to launch its model in the UK during 2017.

“The only emissions out of the back of the car is water, either as water vapour or droplets, so you have no CO2, no NOx, no particulates,” said Robin Hayles, manager of sustainable fuel development at Hyundai.

Read more at The Guardian.

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November 3, 2015

Scottish Government encourages procurers to ask about treatment of workers

The Scottish government has released new procurement guidance that encourages public procurers to question the fairness of working practices within companies invited to bid for contracts. While the guidance is not mandatory, the government says that it should only be ignored if the procurers have “a very good reason” to do so. The guidance will apply to procurement processes launched on or after 1 November 2015.

In deciding what constitutes fair working practices, the Scottish Government points to the payment of a “living wage”, which in Scotland is calculated at £7.85 per hour. Under EU law, procurers may not demand that workers be paid beyond minimum wage, but can use other means to encourage suppliers to do so. Zero-hour contracts, in which staff can be hired without a guaranteed amount of work, should also be viewed unfavourably according to the government.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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October 30, 2015

World's climate pledges not yet enough to avoid dangerous warming – UN

Fiona Harvey
Friday 30 October 2015 09.22 GMT

Pledges by most of the world’s countries on climate change are likely to lead to less than 3C of global warming over the century, analysis of the data by the United Nations suggests.

The UN praised governments for coming forward with plans to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, to kick in from 2020 when current commitments expire.

The plans from 146 countries that cover nearly 90% of global emissions, known as INDCs or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions in the UN jargon, will form the centrepiece of the make-or-break Paris conference on climate change this December.

However, while the plans represent a significant advance on current trends, which would result in as much as 5C of warming if left unchecked, they are not enough in themselves to limit global warming to the 2C threshold that countries are preparing to agree on. This is widely regarded scientifically as the limit of safety, beyond which many of the effects of climate change - floods, droughts, heatwaves, sea level rises and more intense storms - are likely to become much more dangerous.

Read more at The Guardian.

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October 30, 2015

Annual Antarctic Ozone Hole Larger and Formed Later in 2015

The 2015 Antarctic ozone hole area was larger and formed later than in recent years, said scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

On Oct. 2, 2015, the ozone hole expanded to its peak of 28.2 million square kilometers (10.9 million square miles), an area larger than the continent of North America. Throughout October, the hole remained large and set many area daily records. Unusually cold temperature and weak dynamics in the Antarctic stratosphere this year resulted in this larger ozone hole. In comparison, last year the ozone hole peaked at 24.1 million square kilometers (9.3 million square miles) on Sept. 11, 2014. Compared to the 1991-2014 period, the 2015 ozone hole average area was the fourth largest.

“While the current ozone hole is larger than in recent years, the area occupied by this year’s hole is consistent with our understanding of ozone depletion chemistry and consistent with colder than average weather conditions in Earth’s stratosphere, which help drive ozone depletion,” said Paul A. Newman, chief scientist for Earth Sciences at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The ozone hole is a severe depletion of the ozone layer above Antarctica that was first detected in the 1980s. The Antarctic ozone hole forms and expands during the Southern Hemisphere spring (August and September) because of the high levels of chemically active forms of chlorine and bromine in the stratosphere. These chlorine- and bromine-containing molecules are largely derived from man-made chemicals that steadily increased in Earth’s atmosphere up through the early 1990s.

Read more at NASA.

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October 29, 2015

Curate your waste: improving the efficiency of waste recovery

Sustainable urban waste management has progressed over recent decades, with recycling of waste becoming a routine activity across the EU. However, the increasing volume and complexity of waste poses ongoing challenges for policymakers and municipal administrators. New research suggests that a rethink around how household waste is sorted could lead to more resources being recovered from solid waste.

In light of increasing waste recovery targets across the EU, it is in the interests of local authorities to expedite waste management systems and thereby improve the recovery of recyclable resources. Against this context, a recent study investigated the performance of waste sorting infrastructure in two buildings, housing 92 apartments, in Gothenburg, Sweden. The study’s aims were twofold: to identify problems associated with apartmentbased waste sorting; and to propose ways in which housing companies might improve existing systems to enable tenants to sort waste more effectively. The buildings were selected due to their location in a district known to have problems engaging residents in waste separation.

Tenants in such buildings typically recycle their waste in containers within designated garbage disposal rooms, and are provided with guidelines relating to the containers in which specific types of waste should be placed. Over the course of the study, the tenants’ waste handling methods were evaluated in four ways: the weight of discarded material (both mixed and biodegradable waste), the composition of the waste, observations of the tenants’ behaviours, and a user survey.

Read more at "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service.

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October 28, 2015

Study: Volkswagen’s emissions cheat to cause 60 premature deaths in U.S.

Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office
October 28, 2015

Volkswagen’s use of software to evade emissions standards in more than 482,000 diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. will directly contribute to 60 premature deaths across the country, a new MIT-led study finds.

In September, the Environmental Protection Agency discovered that the German automaker had developed and installed “defeat devices” (actually software) in light-duty diesel vehicles sold between 2008 and 2015. This software was designed to sense when a car was undergoing an emissions test, and only then engage the vehicle’s full emissions-control system, which would otherwise be disabled under normal driving conditions — a cheat that allows the vehicles to emit 40 times more emissions than permitted by the Clean Air Act.

That amount of excess pollution, multiplied by the number of affected vehicles sold in the U.S. and extrapolated over population distributions and health risk factors across the country, will have significant effects on public health, the study finds.

Read more at MIT News.

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October 27, 2015

Can Google Open Data Initiative Build Environmentally Sustainable Buildings?

Google, in partnership with thinkstep, building architecture and engineering efficiency firm Flux and the Healthy Building Network have launched a free database that aims to promote environmentally sustainable buildings.

The Quartz database is the result of a year-long collaboration known as the Quartz Project, whose overall mission is to promote the transparency of building product information. Now freely available to building owners, architects and sustainability specialists, as well as to the general public, the database brings together data on the impacts building materials have on both human health and environmental sustainability.

The partners say the Quartz database will serve as a catalyst for more sustainable materials by providing baseline information for the AEC industry. The database aggregates and standardizes the industry’s current data into an open database of valuable and actionable information that is well organized and easy to understand. It’s an open, vendor-agnostic mechanism that allows the AEC industry to compare, contrast and evaluate materials based on their impact on the environment and human health.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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October 26, 2015

If the palm oil industry waited for consumers to care, sustainability would get nowhere

Tim Smedley
Monday 26 October 2015 16.17 GMT

Palm oil is the most-used vegetable oil in the world, accounting for some 65% of all vegetable oil traded, and is found in everything from washing powder to breakfast cereals. Global production has doubled over the past decade and is set to double again by 2020.

But oil palm trees only grow in tropical areas, and vast monocrops are rapidly destroying virgin rainforests and peatland. Ecosystem collapse, air pollution and species extinction have followed.

Global action to reverse these trends has been led by the certification scheme, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Yet, despite being established in 2004, only around 20% of palm oil is certified by the RSPO globally. For the remaining 80%, it’s business as usual.

While CSPO has so far been industry-led, could a tipping point come from heightened consumer understanding and action? That was the question posed at a recent Guardian roundtable, sponsored by the RSPO, that brought together key stakeholders, from buyers and retailers to academics and NGOs.

Read more at The Guardian.

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October 22, 2015

Many nations lack standstill period for public sector suppliers

BY PAUL SNELL
22.10.2015

More than half of countries do not provide a ‘standstill’ period that enables unsuccessful suppliers to file a complaint following the award of a public sector contract.

According to analysis by the World Bank, which examined public procurement processes in 77 nations, a period of grace that allows a vendor to challenge an award is either not provided or is fewer than the internationally-recognised minimum of 10 days.

Of the 25 nations sampled on this point, seven provided no standstill period, nine allowed between one and nine days, and the remaining nine provided 10 days or more.

The seven countries to provide no standstill period were Bahrain, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, Lebanon, Moldova and Sierra Leone.

The Benchmarking Public Procurement 2016 report also found most of the nations analysed have at least one failing when it comes to transparency in their public procurement regulations.

Read more at Supply Management.

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October 20, 2015

Urban mining: Push to cash in on trash

By Madeleine Hinchy
Tuesday 20 October 2015

Three billion new middle-class consumers are expected to enter global markets in the next 15 years, taking on the lifestyles and technologies of established economies. That means demand for more infrastructure and more technology, which means demand for more metals.

How to supply that demand is of increasing concern. “The era of cheap and easily available resources is passing,” says Dr Damien Giurco, research director of the Institute of Sustainable Futures and leader of the Wealth from Waste cluster.

Based at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) but involving collaborations with CSIRO, Monash University, University of Queensland, Swinburne University of Technology and Yale University in the United States, the Wealth to Waste program is focused on how Australia can look beyond the mineral resources found below ground.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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October 20, 2015

Meeting climate goals will require stronger policies to cut emissions

20/10/2015 - Advanced and emerging economies have made progress in addressing climate change, yet most are on a trajectory that would see them fall short of their mitigation goals. Governments need to significantly accelerate their efforts and strengthen their climate change policies, according to a new OECD analysis of climate change mitigation in 44 countries and the EU.

Climate Change Mitigation: Policies and Progress examines the 34 OECD members plus Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and South Africa, and the EU bloc, which together account for more than 80% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The report finds that a growing number of these countries have established carbon-pricing instruments, cut fossil fuel subsidies, invested in R&D for green technologies, protected forests and reduced emissions from factories, farms and landfill sites. Nearly all have decreased GHG emissions per unit of GDP.

Yet policies to combat climate change are still not working fast enough, underscoring the need to move from pledges to action.

Read more at OECD.

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October 20, 2015

FTC Bans ‘Biodegradable’ on Products

The term “biodegradable” can no longer appear on any product unless that product is shown to completely break down into elements in nature within five years after customary disposal, according to a Federal Trade Commission decision released yesterday.

The FTC’s decision reverses its administrative law judge and sets new national environmental policy. It follows the FTC’s recent crackdown on companies’ claims that their products are biodegradable.

In the FTC administrative law judge’s January decision, Judge D. Michael Chappell ruled that ECM Biofilms, maker of an additive that accelerates the biodegradation of conventional plastics, had proven the effectiveness of its product based on generally accepted, competent and reliable scientific evidence, including more than 20 gas evolution tests that prove intrinsic biodegradability.

The FTC on Oct. 19 rejected the ALJ’s decision without a scientific explanation and without identifying any other form of testing generally accepted in the scientific community that could support a biodegradable claim, according to ECM Biofilms’ attorney.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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October 19, 2015

Four ways Asia can cut the amount of plastic waste it dumps in the ocean

Martin Stuchtey and Steven Swartz
Monday 19 October 2015 16.36 BST

Photos of birds with their stomachs full of plastics. A recent study of fish markets around the world finding 28% of individual fish in Indonesia contained plastics (the figure was 25% in the US). The tragic and damaging consequences of our failure to deal with plastic waste are becoming ever more visible.

An estimated 95% of plastic in oceans is under the surface, and if current trends continue, there could be one ton of plastic in the sea for every three tons of fish.

A recent study we did for Ocean Conservancy found that one of the regions that suffers most is south-east Asia. On average, only around 40% of all waste is collected in China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The good news, according to our report, is that because we know the biggest sources of plastic pollution, it is a relatively straightforward problem to get to grips with it. Were those five countries to take the four policy responses listed below, they could reduce their leakage of plastic by two-thirds, and cut global inputs by almost half.

Read more at The Guardian.

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October 16, 2015

Washington sees the positive impact of embracing green procurement

A survey of state governments in the USA has shown that states across the country are embracing green public procurement (GPP), with Washington emerging as a leader in the field. The north-western state has passed ambitious procurement legislation that has led to more sustainable purchasing practices in all government agencies. The improved procurement practices are set to reduce climate change related costs, cut health-care fees, create jobs and preserve scarce resources.

As a result of Washington laws, the percentage of recycled products purchased has increased drastically, while energy consumption has fallen. The state has also mandated that green building practices be incorporated into state owned buildings, vehicle fleets be made more fuel efficient, and that the amount of paper used in state offices be reduced, while the amount of recycled paper purchased goes up.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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October 16, 2015

EPA Rules Target Refrigerants’ Emissions

The EPA yesterday announced several new actions that aim to curb emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning.

The agency proposed a rule that would improve the way refrigerant is sold, handled, recovered and recycled. The proposal would strengthen the existing requirements for handling refrigerants and apply those rules to ozone-depleting and HFC refrigerants.

The EPA estimates that this rule would further reduce enough HFC emissions in 2025 to equal 7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. The agency plans to finalize this rule in 2016.

The EPA also announced that it will initiate a proposed rulemaking in 2016 under the Significant New Alternatives Policy program that would change the status for certain high global warming potential HFCs to unacceptable where safer alternatives are available and also approve several new climate-friendly alternatives for a variety of industry applications.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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October 15, 2015

How do palm oil and paper giants fare on transparency?

By Vaidehi Shah
Thursday 15 October 2015

While Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia wait for skies to clear from the haze pollution that has enveloped the region for the second consecutive month, there are growing calls from the public demanding clarity of a different kind - transparency on concession maps of palm oil and paper firms in Indonesia.

Experts have long maintained that in order to resolve the problem of uncontrolled forest and peat burning in Indonesia - a cheap way clear land for palm oil and timber plantations - there has to be definitive information on land ownership.

Jonathon Porritt, founder director of non-profit Forum for the Future, who is leading an industry study on stored carbon in forests, told Eco-Business: “You cannot carry out proper forest protection, agricultural development, and setting land aside for community rights without proper mapping; it’s just not possible.”

So just how transparent are the major players in Indonesia’s forestry sector? Eco-Business shows how they stack up on transparency when it comes to concession maps.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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October 13, 2015

New report looks at Flemish government's support for innovative and sustainable procurement

The Flemish government has enacted a number of policies to increase the uptake of procurement of innovation according to a new report produced by Foundation Innovation & Work, taking advantage of the new EU procurement directive’s more supportive language towards engaging in innovative and sustainable procurement. Within the Belgian region, public procurement of innovation (PPI) is promoted across all policy areas, with IWT – the Flemish Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology in charge of controlling and supporting the shift.

Currently Flanders is carrying out 15 PPI projects as part of its innovative procurement programme, including a partner role in the Procurement of Innovation Platform. The region also closely monitors other country’s national innovation procurement frameworks to gain examples of best practice. While no one country provides a role model across all areas, the United States, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom are considered exemplary in their application of PPI.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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October 12, 2015

Hotel 'greenwashing' dirties eco-friendly reputation

Science Daily
Monday 12 October 2015

Greenwashing practices, such as a sign that reads “save the planet: re-use towels,” coupled with claims of corporate social responsibility, have soiled the trust of American consumers who are increasingly recognising hotels’ green claims may be self-serving.

This could cause hotels to lose valuable repeat customers.

Writing in the Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Washington State University hospitality researchers Imran Rahman, Jeongdoo Park and Christina Geng-qing Chi investigate the consequences of greenwashing in the lodging industry and suggest ways hotels can establish credibility in consumers’ minds.

Their paper, “Consequences of ‘Greenwashing:’ Consumers’ Reactions to Hotels’ Green Initiatives,” comes at a time when as many as 79 per cent of travelers worldwide agree that implementing eco-friendly practices is important to their choice of lodging. Research shows a majority are willing to boycott a company if misled.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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October 10, 2015

Failure of Puma's biodegradable range doesn't mean eco-fashion is dead

Esha Chhabra
Saturday 10 October 2015 08.00 BST

After launching with a blaze of celebration, sports brand Puma’s new eco-friendly range of gear was meant to be the moment ethical fashion went mainstream. A shoe, jacket and backpack made of biodegradable and recyclable materials, put on sale in 2013, were part of the company’s effort to minimise the environmental impact of its manufacturing process.

But two years on and the InCycle line as it was called has failed. In a statement released by Puma in November 2014, the company had warned that its retailers had not ordered the product and so it was only on sale in Puma stores, “where we had poor demand as well”.

As of 2015, further research and development of new designs has also now come to a halt. The company says: “We will now explore what to do with the collection after 2015.”

Not everyone is downbeat about the failure. “It doesn’t necessarily follow that because a one-off biodegradable shoe collection failed all biodegradable fashion products will meet that same fate,” said Carolina Cantor, co-founder of Shop Ethica, a New York-based online marketplace for sustainable fashion brands.

She argues the success of biodegradable products may not be about size or scale alone, and that smaller and newer brands often have the advantage.

Read more at The Guardian.

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October 8, 2015

Haze prompts Singapore banks to set ESG guidelines

By Jean Chua
Thursday 8 October 2015

In a historic move, banks in Singapore will for the first time adopt standards that govern responsible financing and integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues such as deforestation, human rights and corporate ethics into their lending and business practices.

The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), which represents 158 foreign banks as well as the three largest local banks - DBS, UOB and OCBC - on Thursday released a set of guidelines that it says will align the financial sector’s activities to support sustainable development.

ABS said in a statement: “Irresponsible development, unsustainable business and commercial practices have adverse impacts on people and the environment. Financiers have an important role to play in shaping and expecting the responsible actions from their employees and clients.”

ABS will continue to work with regulators, civil societies, NGOs and other stakeholders to raise awareness of ESG issues and trends as well as help build banks’ capacity and skills development.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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October 8, 2015

Comments invited on EU cleaning services criteria

The EU is inviting public feedback on the development of the criterion for a new EU Ecolabel for cleaning services, as well as the revision of the existing EU Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria for cleaning services. Proposed mandatory criteria includes stipulations on using cleaning products with a lower environmental impact, ensuring that they are not toxic to aquatic life or hazardous to the ozone layer for example, whilst also ensuring that they do not harm human health, including causing damage to the unborn child or impacting breast feeding.

The criteria also states that cleaning staff shall have access to instructions on the correct dosage required for each cleaning product, and outlines the level of training each staff member must receive in terms of health and safety and mitigating environmental harm. The criteria also states that minimum sectorial wage standards must be met. The importance of an Environmental Management System being implemented is further outlined.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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October 2, 2015

Governments, Intergovernmental Organizations, Industry and Civil Society Join Forces for a Chemical-Safe World by 2020

Geneva, 2 October 2015 - Over 800 delegates, including ministers, CEOs, heads of intergovernmental organizations and leaders of civil society, meeting at the 4th International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4), committed today to step up action to safeguard people and the environment from the risk posed by inadequately managed chemicals.

Of the estimated 100,000+ chemicals on the market today, only a fraction has been thoroughly evaluated to determine their effects on human health and the environment. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that exposure to chemicals contributes to over 1 million deaths annually.

The infant death rate from environmental causes overall is 12 times higher in developing than in developed countries while childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to about 600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year.

ICCM4 concluded with a commitment to invest in efforts to prevent these deaths and illnesses by assuring sound chemicals management throughout their life cycle by 2020.

Achieving that goal would be a milestone toward realizing the historic 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda adopted by 193 countries last week, and containing goals on human health and well-being, food security, sustainable consumption and production, and water and sanitation - all issues directly affected by chemicals.

Read more at UNEP NEWS CENTRE.

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October 2, 2015

LED Lighting Myths Dispelled

This article is sponsored by Digital Lumens.

In the last five years, LED lighting and controls have been widely used in a broad range of general lighting applications, from residential to commercial, but there are a number of persistent misconceptions about LED lighting – many based on knowledge of legacy fixtures – that do not apply. In fact, for commercial and industrial applications, high-quality LED fixtures offer extremely low energy use, a long lifespan, high-quality light and durability. Additionally, there is none of the maintenance (re-lamping, re-ballasting) associated with traditional incandescent and fluorescent sources and there are inherent controllability aspects (instant on/off, full-range dimming) that create additional energy savings opportunities.

LED lighting is relatively new compared to legacy lighting types, and continue to be misunderstood in a number of ways, writes Digital Lumens in a new white paper devoted to correcting these misunderstandings. One common misconception is that LEDs are so efficient that controls are unnecessary. In fact, while switching to LEDs creates a one-time savings event – typically reducing lighting energy use by up to 50% – integrated sensing and controls can nearly double those energy savings, making controls essential for maximum savings and project economics.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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September 28, 2015

Forest loss and land degradation fuel climate crisis

Climate News Network
Monday 28 September 2015

The planet’s forests have dwindled by 3 per cent − equivalent almost to the land area of South Africa − in the last 25 years, according to a new assessment by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

While the planet continues to lose its forests – albeit at a slower rate – through felling, burning or being turned into farmland, another UN study predicts that the economic cost of degraded agricultural land in the form of lost ecosystem services now amounts to up to US$10 trillion a year.

Within 10 years, 50 million people could have been forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods to become migrants. If all those people were assembled in one place, they would constitute the planet’s 28th biggest nation in terms of population.

Increasing levels
Forest loss and farmland degradation are both part of climate change accountancy. The rise in greenhouse gases is in part linked to the loss of forest cover to soak up the carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels.

But increasing levels of heat and drought are likely to accompany climate change, increasing the area of desert or land too arid to support life and industry.

So in losing forest, and in watching farmland become saline because of over-irrigation, or exhausted by intensive cultivation or overgrazing, or simply increasingly too arid to support vegetation, humans are witnessing the loss of all sorts of valuable services not normally recorded by accountants.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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September 26, 2015

The SDG Compass Helps Companies Take Action on New UN Goals

New York, September 26 2015 - Companies now have a new tool to help them navigate and contribute to a new set of global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations on 25 September. Launched today at a UN-business event at UN Headquarters in New York, the SDG Compass –developed jointly by GRI, the UN Global Compact and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) – guides companies in taking a strategic approach to the SDGs and enhancing their contribution to sustainable development through core business activities.

The SDGs, which will shape the global development agenda from now until 2030, explicitly call on business to use creativity and innovation to address sustainable development challenges, such as poverty, gender equality, clean water, clean energy and climate change. Many companies, however, are uncertain about what actions they can and should take in order to contribute to the goals. To meet this need, the SDG Compass is a guide that companies can use to align their strategies with the relevant SDGs, and measure and manage their impacts. It is supported by a live and constantly updated inventory of business indicators and tools.

Though all 193 Member States of the United Nations reached agreement on the SDGs, their success relies heavily on action and collaboration by all actors. The SDG Compass acknowledges this and incorporates feedback from companies, government agencies, academic institutions and civil society organizations, from around the world.

Read more at world business council for sustainable development.

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September 25, 2015

UN adopts new Global Goals, charting sustainable development for people and planet by 2030

25 September 2015 - The 193-Member United Nations General Assembly today formally adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with a set of bold new Global Goals, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed as a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world.
"The new agenda is a promise by leaders to all people everywhere. It is an agenda for people, to end poverty in all its forms - an agenda for the planet, our common home," declared Mr. Ban as he opened the UN Sustainable Development Summit which kicked off today and wraps up Sunday.

The UN chief's address came ahead of the Assembly's formal adoption of the new framework, Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is composed of 17 goals and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.
The Goals aim to build on the work of the historic Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which in September 2000, rallied the world around a common 15-year agenda to tackle the indignity of poverty.

The Summit opened with a full programme of events, including a screening of the film The Earth From Space, performances by UN Goodwill Ambassadors Shakira and Angelique Kidjo, as well as call to action by female education advocate and the youngest-ever Nobel Laureate, Malala Yousafzai along with youth representatives as torch bearers to a sustainable future.

The adoption ceremony was presided over by Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who stressed the successes of the MDGSs and the need for the full implementation of the new Agenda.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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September 24, 2015

Imagine a world without waste: it's possible with a circular economy

Alicia Clegg
Thursday 24 September 2015 12.55 BST

The world’s mineral and metal reserves are dwindling, but that doesn’t mean it’s time for development to switch into reverse gear. If we could redesign our profligate industrial processes, say circular economists, we could put a stop to our throwaway habits without sacrificing growth.

Instead of burning or burying millions of tonnes of waste every year, we could take today’s garbage − even the fragments of plastics that hapless seabirds ingest − and use them as the building blocks to make anything from carpets to laptops.

Although the circular economy is often mentioned in the same breath as recycling, the two should not be conflated. Materials that have been jumbled up in the waste stream or contaminated lose much of their value and the recycling process for cleaning and converting them into usable products can itself consume a large amount of energy.

In the circular economy the emphasis is on designing goods to be long-lasting, easy to repair and reuse, easy to disassemble and easy to remake into items that are as good, if not better, than their virgin equivalents.

And it is not all about squeezing more life from a fixed stock of resources that have been dug from the ground at heavy cost to the environment. By developing bio-materials, circular innovators hope one day to replace petroleum-derived plastics with compostable plant-based materials that can be returned to the ecosystem after use.

Read more at The Guardian.

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September 21, 2015

France overturns ban on BPA in export products

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a substance used in the manufacture of many everyday objects, including plastic bottles, food processors and metal food containers. Some scientists suspect that exposure to the chemical, for example by eating canned food, can disrupt the body’s hormone functions.

In a decision on 17 September 2015, the Constitutional Council overturned the ban on the use of BPA in food containers destined for the export market. The sale and import of the substance remains prohibited in France itself.

The Constitutional Council's decision to partially subvert the French ban on BPA has re-opened the scientific debate on the dangers of the hormone disrupter. This has been seen as a defeat for the French ecology minister, Ségolène Royal.

The court arrived at this paradoxical decision to protect the competitiveness of French businesses, as the use of the substance is still permitted in the European Union.

"The decision of the Constitutional Council is astonishing. It feels like we have gone back to the time of Chernobyl, when we were told that the radioactive cloud had stopped at the French border," MEP Michèle Rivasi (Greens) said.

Read more at EurActiv.com.

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September 17, 2015

Look at how much e-waste Singapore has saved from the landfill

By Vaidehi Shah
Thursday 17 September 2015

Singapore’s largest electronic waste (e-waste) recycling programme, Recycling Nation’s Electronic Waste (Renew), is now a year old. It is turning out to be a hit with tech-savvy residents of the city state, who have recycled more than 23 tonnes of gadgets like laptops, tablets, remote controls, mice, and wires in the past year.

The programme is a voluntary effort by Singapore telecommunications firm Starhub, freight company DHL Express and e-waste management firm TES-AMM. Last year, the firms banded together to roll out 150 collection bins for old electronics across the island, and also handle the transport and recycling.

It builds on an earlier recycling drive by Starhub, which had 30 collection bins placed around the island between March 2012 and September 2014. As part of Renew, Starhub, together with DHL Express and TES-AMM, added more than 150 bins in malls, residences, government offices, community clubs, and schools islandwide, bringing the total to 185 bins.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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September 14, 2015

Diesel cars in the EU having trouble meeting emissions standards on the road

Every major car manufacturer is selling diesel cars that fail to meet EU air pollution limits on the road in Europe, according to data obtained by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E).

All new diesel cars should have met the Euro 6 autoemissions standard from 1 September – but just one in 10 tested complied with the legal limit.

On average new EU diesel cars produce emissions about five times higher than the allowed limit. The results are compiled in a new report, Don’t Breathe Here, in which T&E analyses the reasons for and solutions to air pollution caused by diesel machines and cars – the worst of which, an Audi, emitted 22 times the allowed EU limit.

Read more at Environmental News Network.

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September 10, 2015

Holistic approach needed to reduce consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags

Member States already have different national policies in place to limit the consumption of plastic bags. On 29 April 2015, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Directive (EU) 2015/720 amending the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive with regard to reducing the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags. Member States must take measures, by 26 November 2016 at the latest, to reduce the consumption these bags, including either the setting of a maximum annual consumption level of 90 bags per person by 2019 (and of 40 bags by 2025), or stop retailers giving away free bags altogether by the end of 2018.

The authors analysed the impact of existing measures implemented to reduce plastic carrier bag consumption in different Member States. They considered national legislation, voluntary initiatives and economic measures, and assessed the impact of different measures on levels of plastic bag consumption and littering. The results suggest that there is no obvious pattern to the types of policies that work in different Member States.

Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland and the Netherlands had existing national legislation to reduce the consumption of carrier bags and in 2011/12 consumers in those countries consumed fewer bags than the average. However, in Estonia, Italy, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK, consumption was average, and in the Czech Republic and Latvia higher than average, despite national legislation to reduce bag consumption. Some Member States that had average consumption levels had high littering rates, while others had low littering rates.

Read more at: "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service.

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September 8, 2015

New centre promotes clean technology for Asia-Pacific

SciDev Net
Tuesday 8 September 2015

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) opened (1 September) its first Asia-Pacific regional hub to promote clean technology.

The UNFCCC Regional Collaboration Centre (RCC), formed in partnership with the non-profit Institute for Global Environmental Strategies in Japan, will help developing countries in the region to identify and develop clean development mechanism (CDM) projects to help limit damage from climate change.

Based in Bangkok, Thailand, the RCC helps source the funding needed to implement CDM projects.

“It’s important for the region to have its own centre to make it better equipped in mitigating the impact of climate change,” Luca Brusa, a team leader at UNFCCC, tells SciDev.Net.

Brusa says these CDMs will be in line with the nationally appropriate mitigation actions to be implemented by the developing countries.

He adds the centre is targeting about 300 projects a year. It plans to focus more on countries that have yet to implement CDM projects, such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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September 7, 2015

The Mounting Problem: World's Cities Produce up to 10 Billion Tonnes of Waste Each Year, UN Study Estimates

Antwerp, 7 September 2015 - Inadequate waste management has become a major public health, economic and environmental problem, with 7-10 billion tonnes of urban waste produced each year and 3 billion people worldwide lacking access to controlled waste disposal facilities.

Fuelled by population growth, urbanization and rising consumption, the volumes of waste are likely to even double in lower-income African and Asian cities by 2030, warns the Global Waste Management Outlook - launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) today.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, "An urgent response to the world's mounting waste problem is not only a public health and environmental necessity, but also a sound economic investment. Inaction is costing countries 5-10 times more than investments in proper waste management. A greater commitment by nations to systematically apply the 3 R's - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - can transform the problem of waste into a resource for our economies.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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September 4, 2015

EU car pollution laws have improved UK's air quality, say carmakers

John Vidal
Friday 4 September 2015 11.48 BST

Meeting strict new EU pollution standards has added £1,500 to the cost of every new vehicle, say carmakers who claim that because of European legislation to cut tailpipe pollution, Britain’s air quality is better now than it has been for centuries.

“New European emission limits, which apply to all new cars sold from this week, have the potential to all but eliminate exhaust pollutants that impact air quality,” said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The European motor industry has been stung by World Health Organisation statement that diesel fumes are a “major cancer risk” and by government health figures suggesting particulate air pollution is killing 29,000 people a year.

But as a result of European legislation to to reduce car pollution, since 1993, the minute, partially-burned bits of soot emitted from Britain’s 35m tailpipes have been cut by 96% in diesel vehicles, and the toxic NO2 gas has been reduced by 84%. Carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to climate change, have dropped 82% in diesel and 63% in petrol cars.

Read more at The Guardian.

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September 3, 2015

Dutch procurement agency makes guidance available in English

PIANOo, a Dutch public procurement agency, has launched a translated version of their website, providing those who speak English with a wealth of useful information on sustainable public procurement (SPP). PIANOo’s website explains key procurement concepts and provides information on how procurers can embrace sustainable and innovative procurement, as well as giving access to tools and documents.

Separated by theme, the website contains comprehensive SPP guidance, outlining how procurers can minimise the impact of procurement on people and the environment and use it as a means to meet their organisation's policy objectives. Topics covered on the website include social conditions in global supply chains, circular procurement, opportunities for SMEs, and more.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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September 1, 2015

Only one third of EU's e-waste recycled properly

01 Sep 2015 - 07:24 updated: 15:55
EurActiv.com by Catherine Stupp

More than two thirds of metal appliances and tech products that are thrown away in the EU are processed illegally and some leak toxins into the environment that can have dangerous health effects. Researchers said Europe has an electronic waste problem.

Almost five million tonnes of e-waste were mismanaged or traded under the table within the EU in 2012, and 1.3 tonnes were illegally exported out of the EU, mostly to Africa and Asia.

Only one third of Europe's e-waste is properly recycled.

Refrigerators are among the worst culprits that leak dangerous materials if they're not carefully recycled.

An estimated 84,000 tonnes of refrigerator compressors don't end up at official processing centres, which produce roughly the same amount of CO2as five million cars, according to a report published over the weekend (30 August) by the Countering WEEE Illegal Trade (CWIT) project.

Read more at EurActiv.com.

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September 1, 2015

With help, small island states ditch diesel for cheaper, cleaner energy

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 1 Sep 2015 09:41 GMT
Author: Megan Rowling

BARCELONA, Sept 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - After oil prices hit a record high in July 2008, the tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands was forced to declare an economic emergency since around 90 percent of its energy needs were met by imported petroleum products.

The fuel price shock was a major incentive for the low-lying island country to reduce its reliance on diesel and other fossil fuels, and expand renewable energy instead.

Now 99 percent of lighting on its outer islands is powered by solar, street lamps and water pumps also run on the sun, and solar energy is being fed into the otherwise diesel-powered grids on the main urban islands.

In its national contribution to a new global climate change deal now under negotiation, the Marshall Islands outlined in July more ambitious renewable energy measures for the future.

They include small-scale wind-power, expanding coconut oil production for use in electricity and transport fuel, introducing electric vehicles and solar-charged lagoon transport, and improving energy efficiency with pre-paid meters and heat recovery.

The planned steps are expected to replace more than one-third of fossil fuels for electricity and transport by 2030, helping meet emissions reduction goals of 32 percent by 2025 and 45 percent by 2030.

Read more at Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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September 1, 2015

EPA Rules Target Hazardous Waste Management

The EPA yesterday proposed two new hazardous waste rules that the agency says will strengthen environmental protection while reducing regulatory burden on businesses.

One of the proposed rules aims to protect waterways, including drinking and surface water, by preventing the flushing of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals and simplify the requirements for healthcare workers. The EPA says the other rule will provide greater flexibility to industry while requiring new safeguards to protect the public from mismanagement of hazardous waste.

The proposed hazardous waste pharmaceuticals rule will make drinking and surface water safer and healthier by reducing the amount of pharmaceuticals entering US waterways, the agency says. It projects the proposal will prevent the flushing of more than 6,400 tons of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals annually by banning healthcare facilities from flushing hazardous waste pharmaceuticals down the sink and toilet.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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September 1, 2015

Up to 90% of seabirds have plastic in their guts, study finds

Associated Press
Tuesday 1 September 2015 03.44 BST

As many as nine out of 10 of the world’s seabirds are likely to have pieces of plastic in their guts, a new study estimates.

An Australian team of scientists who have studied birds and marine debris found that far more seabirds were affected than the previous estimate of 29%. Their results were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“It’s pretty astronomical,” said study coauthor Denise Hardesty, a senior research scientist at the CSIRO.

She said the problem with plastics in the ocean was increasing as the world made more of it. “In the next 11 years we will make as much plastic as has been made since industrial plastic production began in the 1950s.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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August 27, 2015

Texas teenager creates $20 water purifier to tackle toxic e-waste pollution

Karl Mathiesen in Stockholm and Tess Riley
Thursday 27 August 2015 15.32 BST

Consumer electronics, including computers and mobiles, are leaving a legacy of toxic waste in countries including China and India. Recycling factories across Asia are recovering e-waste exported from around the world, but discharging heavy metals and chemicals into local water supplies in the process.

How to safeguard drinking water for local residents is an ongoing battle, with existing solutions such as chlorination, distillation, boiling and high-tech filtration prohibitively expensive and often reliant on fossil fuels.

Now a new filtering device, invented by a US teenager, could provide a cheap and easy way to purify water.

The renewable heavy metal filter, designed by 18-year-old Perry Alagappan, removes 99% of heavy metals from water that passes through it. The filter, built from graphene nanotubes, can be rinsed with a vinegar concentrate and reused. The highly concentrated waste can then be evaporated, leaving a deposit of pure metal that can be used in many different applications.

Alagappan, who was awarded the Stockholm Junior Water Prize at this year’s World Water Week, said the filter cost just $20 (£13) to make, up to five times less than existing reverse osmosis technology.

Read more at The Guardian.

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August 24, 2015

Resource consumption exceeds Earth’s capacity to produce earlier than last year

13 August marked this year’s date that human activity consumed more natural resources than the Earth can produce, according to data from Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability think tank with offices in North America, Europe and Asia. Each year the date in which consumption overtakes nature’s ability to produce, named "Earth Overshoot Day", occurs earlier - in the year 2000 Earth Overshoot Day occurred in October.

This year, it took less than eight months to go beyond Earth's biocapacity, with carbon sequestration making up more than half of the demand on nature. “Humanity’s carbon footprint alone more than doubled since the early 1970s, which is when the world went into ecological overshoot. It remains the fastest growing component of the widening gap between the Ecological Footprint and the planet’s biocapacity,” said Mathis Wackernagel, president of Global Footprint Network and the co-creator of the Ecological Footprint resource accounting metric.

Read more at ICLEI Europe.

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August 21, 2015

LIXIL and Tohoku University unveil toilet lighting system that works even in blackouts

JFS
Friday 21 August 2015

Since July 2014, LIXIL, a Japanese living and housing solutions company, and Tohoku University, have been conducting research to develop the “Zero Energy Toilet (ZET),” which allows people to use toilets comfortably even in times of disaster.

As part of the study, on June 2, 2015, they announced the development of a zero-energy lighting system that utilizes electricity generated from the power of water flushing down the toilet bowl to light the room.

In times of disaster, if the external power supply is disrupted, but water and sewerage systems are not extensively damaged, the new system can provide light to the washroom and make it usable at night, by converting the hydropower energy of the flushing water into electricity for lighting.

The system is supplemented by power storage, high-efficiency LED lights, and power supply control circuits. In addition, the researchers developed a new type of LED lighting that takes advantage of the “Purkinje effect,” a phenomenon that occurs at low light intensity, where blue objects reflect short-wavelength light and appear to be brighter than red objects that reflect long-wavelength light.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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August 20, 2015

Singapore firms pledge to raise sustainability standards

By Global Compact Network Singapore
Thursday 20 August 2015

As part of the 10th year celebration of Singapore’s corporate responsibility movement, a number of Singapore-based companies will be receiving special certificates from the United Nations Global Compact next week.

General Counsel and Chief of Governance and Social Sustainability of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), Ms Ursula Wynhoven will be issuing these at the opening ceremony of the International CSR Summit by Global Compact Network Singapore on 25 August.

These companies are pledging to abide by the 10 universally accepted principles of sustainable and responsible business practices under the UNGC, a voluntary initiative by companies to adopt sustainable and responsible business practices.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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August 20, 2015

Transparency International calls for openness in German procurement law

A new report by Transparency International criticises the draft version of Germany's new procurement laws for lacking openness, citing the stipulation that it is no longer mandatory to publish contracts awarded in national procurement procedures. Under the draft law, procurers would be given the choice to engage in either an open or restricted procedure, effectively meaning that the procurement could be carried out behind closed doors.

The global NGO rejects the law’s proposal to make the two options equally valid, strongly recommending that the priority of the open procedure be maintained. The report argues that a high degree of transparency and competition in public procurement procedures is vital to preventing corruption and a loss of competition. The authors also condemn the weakening of provisions to exclude previously penalised companies from the procurement process.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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August 19, 2015

An 'EC' way to save energy

By Vaidehi Shah
Wednesday 19 August 2015

As people go about their daily routines at work or home, they are unlikely to give much thought to the army of fans whirring behind the scenes to keep their surroundings cool and well-ventilated, let alone the motors that power them.

But ask any engineer or building owner tasked with making these spaces more efficient and it soon becomes clear that heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems hold the key to their success.

This is because HVAC systems account for as much as 40 per cent of energy consumed by buildings, which in turn emit one third of greenhouse gases worldwide. In factories such as for electronics or chemical manufacturing or for refrigeration, HVAC systems can account for as much as 80 per cent of total power consumption.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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August 18, 2015

The Netherlands pushes for 100% sustainable palm oil in Europe

The European Sustainable Palm Oil (ESPO) initiative is taking steps to achieve its ambitious aim of 100 percent sustainable palm oil across Europe, receiving strong support from Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Lilianne Ploumen. Palm oil is the most produced and traded vegetable oil in the world, and an important ingredient for a diverse range of products including food and fuel.

‘The Netherlands are ahead in their achievements: by the end of this year we hope to have switched to 100 percent sustainable palm oil. It is time that other European countries also progress in making their supply chains more sustainable,’ said the Minister. If successful in Europe, Minister Ploumen hopes to roll out the initiative across the globe, saying: “European palm oil imports make up 14 percent of international palm oil imports. When we reach the 100 percent goal here, we may very well start a worldwide race to the top”.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Cente.

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August 13, 2015

Without India, you can forget about achieving a sustainable palm oil sector

Sarah Hucal
Monday 10 August 2015 13.16 BST

In a food stall on a dusty New Delhi street corner, a woman in a bright orange sari drops samosas into a skillet of bubbling liquid, which crackles and pops as it laps up the potato­-filled dough.

She is cooking with palm oil, the ingredient often met with controversy in the west due to concerns about deforestation and habitat loss. In India, however, the world’s top importer of palm oil, its sustainability goes largely unquestioned.

India’s 1.2 billion citizens consume approximately 15% of the global supply of palm oil. The vast majority of the commodity (95% according to WWF figures) is used as edible oil, with the remainder added to haircare and beauty products. The country imports nearly all of its palm oil, more than two-­thirds of which is sourced from Indonesia.

Read more at The Guardian.

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August 13, 2015

UN efforts to enhance sustainable procurement in the health sector outlined

A new UN report on sustainable procurement practices in the health care sector has been released, detailing the progress of the informal Interagency Task Team on Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector (SPHS) in its mission to influence the global health market towards greener procurement. The SPHS is comprised of a range of UN organisations, including UNDP, UNEP, UNICEF, and WHO.

Placing a focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, resource depletion and chemical pollution, the task force spearheaded a number of initiatives to improve the uptake of environmentally friendly procurement, including the publication of guidelines on energy requirements for medical devices, conducting pilot studies to identify opportunities to reduce waste in packaging, and carrying out research into reducing waste within the manufacturing process of selected pharmaceuticals.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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August 12, 2015

Sri Lanka becomes first country in South Asia to recycle compact fluorescent lamps

Down to Earth
Wednesday 12 August 2015

At a time when developing countries are struggling with safe disposal of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), Sri Lanka is leading by example.

Pitipana, a small town 35 km from the capital Colombo, is home to South Asia’s first CFL recycling plant, Asia Recycling. The plant is owned by Orange Electric, which has a local market share of 48 per cent in CFLS.

“We at Orange Electric manufacture around 0.6 million CFL bulbs every month. Almost 0.5 million of these are disposed in Sri Lanka every month. As a manufacturing company, we wanted to be responsible for safe recycling and treatment mechanism for CFL waste,” says B G Gunathilaka, operations manager, Asia Recycling.

Operational since 2011, the state-of-the-art plant has the capacity to recycle up to 30 million CFLs annually—nearly three times more than the annual usage in Sri Lanka. The facility has been set up in partnership with Nordic Recycling AB of Sweden.

The plant collects CFL waste from institutions such as banks, schools and universities, factories, hospitals and government agencies. Households are encouraged to dispose their CFL waste at designated collection centres. Orange Electric has put collection boxes at leading supermarkets and distributor points across the country.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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August 11, 2015

Study shows nine out of 10 countries use procurement to support social objectives

The new OECD study Government at a Glance 2015 has found that 94 percent of OECD countries are using public procurement to advance social and economic objectives. The report goes on to state that a significantly lower proportion measures the success of these procurement measures in achieving secondary objectives, with only 69 percent tracking the results of green procurement policies and 39 percent measuring the impact of policies to foster greater innovation.

Insufficient incentives, the lack of necessary financial resources, and the lack of a measurement framework are cited as factors in this lower showing. The report states that in 2013, 29 percent of total public expenditure was spent on procurement, with public procurement accounting for an average of 12.1 percent of spending relative to GDP.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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August 11, 2015

Waste efficiency soon to be a reality in Sydney

By AWRE
Tuesday 11 August 2015

The Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) - a City of Sydney initiative in collaboration with Foresight Environmental - has developed and launched a set of operational waste guidelines to help building owners, property managers and waste companies to work more effectively using a standard across their portfolios.

A key member of the BBP, Oliver Batchelour, Director of Foresight Environmental, says that this initiative - which brings 14 key building owners in the city of Sydney - will be a game-changer and resolve the biggest pain points commercial building owners face in the realm of waste management.

The BBP represents a number of Sydney’s leading commercial and public sector landlords and the new guidelines will address longstanding pain points such as inaccuracies in waste data reporting which can impinge on Green Star accreditation.

Building owners and managers have found it difficult to manage their waste program effectively. With a responsibility to report waste data to stakeholders, the present difficulty is that without verified data, key decisions regarding recycling rates cannot be made without confidence in the data.

Thus, it has been a challenge for corporations to account for their sustainability achievements due to data accuracy issues, said Batchelour.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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August 9, 2015

China's 2015 Sustainable Consumption Week Aims to Green the World's Second Largest Private Consumer Market

Beijing, 8 August 2015 – The 2015 Sustainable Consumption Week kicked off in China today with the theme "Green Life, Consume with Wisdom", aiming to raise awareness about sustainable consumption, promote conscious purchasing decisions and create enabling policies for responsible consumption.

Holding the position of a global manufacturing hub, China is already the world's largest consumer of primary materials, such as fossil fuels and metal ores. But with increasing affluence and a rapidly growing middle class, it has also become the world's second largest private consumer market, with household expenditure growing from around US $554 billion in 2000 to over US $3.4 trillion in 2014 according to the World Bank.

China Sustainable Consumption Week aims to change the current consumption patterns, so that these trillions of dollars are spent on goods and services with lower resource and energy intensity. The adoption of sustainable practices and lifestyles in the world's second largest economy could have a positive environmental impact on a global scale.

Several recognizable Chinese and global brands have joined this effort, including GOME, Wal-Mart, Vanguard, IKEA and H&M. Overall, more than 600 chain stores all over the country will participate in the project. The activities for the week will focus on sustainable food sources, energy efficient appliances and eco friendly labeling.

The attractions prepared by organizers include media events, on-site demonstrations, educational quizzes on sustainable consumption and a Sustainable Seafood Festival. In addition to drawing public attention to eco-labels and sustainable brands, the week will also highlight China’s low carbon retail solutions and launch a Sustainable Seafood list.

Read more at UNEP Regional Office for Asia Pacific.

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August 7, 2015

SCP TO BE PRIORITY AREA OF UN UNIVERSITY'S EDUCATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

The United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) serves the international community by offering valuable and innovative policy oriented solutions to sustainability challenges. In response to the UN resolution on the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD: 2005-2014), UNU-IAS launched the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Programme with support from the Ministry of the Environment, Japan.

The Programme focuses on contributing to international Sustainable Development (SD) and ESD processes through developing multi- stakeholder networks and higher education alliances, enhancing leadership and capacity development, and advancing knowledge through policy-relevant research. Upon the completion of the DESD in 2014, the Programme is committed to further generating, accelerating and mainstreaming ESD by implementing the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD, and through these activities, contributing to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The goal of the ESD Programme is to bridge the gap between learning and development through research and actions which advance partnerships for ESD across geographic, knowledge, and sectoral boundaries. To this end, the Programme will synergize its objectives with the actions of its partner networks to make a tangible contribution to the post-2015 development and education agendas.

After an internal review, the ESD programme identified four priorities which would be the main focus moving forward : the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD; Sustainability Consumption and Production; Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services; Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction; and Higher Education-driven Initiatives.

Read more at SCP Clearinghouse.

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August 6, 2015

Pacific efficient light strategy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate energy and financial savings

Nadi/Bangkok, 6 August 2015 – Representatives from nine Pacific Island countries are gathering today in Nadi, Fiji, to validate the first ever Pacific Efficient Lighting Strategy (PELS) for the region’s transition to high efficiency, environmentally-sound lighting by 2020.
“By identifying concrete policy measures to be implemented, this new efficient lighting strategy holds the potential to reduce the region’s greenhouse gas emissions, while also decreasing dependence on petroleum imports and improving livelihoods,” the Deputy Director, Energy, of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Solomone Fifita, said.

By implementing the measures identified in the strategy, the region will reduce its electricity consumption for lighting by 36 per cent per year, save the region over US$ 1.7 billion by 2030, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4.6 million tonnes over the same time period.

“This strategy contributes to the call for sustainable energy in Small Island Developing States, materialized in the 2014 SAMOA Pathway. It also demonstrates Pacific leadership towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals which will be adopted by the UN General Assembly in September, especially to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy,” said Isabelle Louis, Deputy Regional Director for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

Read more at UNEP Regional Office for Asia Pacific News Centre.

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August 5, 2015

See-Through Solar Could Turn Windows, Phones Into Power Sources

By Marianne Lavelle, for National Geographic
PUBLISHED AUGUST 05, 2015

Anyone who has sweltered in a south-facing office during the summer knows the power of solar energy streaming through a window.

In fact, no reputable urban architect today would design such a workspace without treated windows to reduce the sun's glare and heat.

But what if the window coating could do better than keep out the sun? What if that thin film could capture the solar energy for lighting the office, running the computers, and best of all, firing up the air conditioning?

That's the idea behind "transparent" solar, a technology that startup companies hope to bring to market soon, after at least two decades of U.S. government-backed and university research.

With the help of organic chemistry, transparent solar pioneers have set out to tackle one of solar energy's greatest frustrations. Although the sun has by far the largest potential of any energy resource available to civilization, our ability to harness that power is limited. Photovoltaic panels mounted on rooftops are at best 20 percent efficient at turning sunlight to electricity.

Research has boosted solar panel efficiency over time. But some scientists argue that to truly take advantage of the sun's power, we also need to expand the amount of real estate that can be outfitted with solar, by making cells that are nearly or entirely see-through.

Read more at National Geographic.

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August 3, 2015

NZ looks to manufacturers to help tackle e-waste

The Fifth Estate
Monday 3 August 2015

The New Zealand government is considering introducing a scheme similar to Australia’s National Computer and Television Recycling Scheme, according to chief executive of the Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform, Carmel Dollison.

Ms Dollison said the government had commissioned a review of what is happening in the e-waste stream, with the aim of identifying the priority products for recycling. The ANZRP participated in the review.

She said the outcomes would help inform the government’s decision around what type of product stewardship program should be run, whether it would be a mandatory scheme like the NCTRS, potentially funded through a levy on purchases; a co-regulatory scheme where responsibility is shared; or a voluntary scheme.

“The recommendations have gone to the ministry and they will hopefully come through with a program soon,” Ms Dollison said.

“In the interim there are a number of manufacturers that do run e-waste take-back programs [in New Zealand].”

These companies include Apple, Dell, HP and Fuji Xerox, which operates the only NZ government-accredited IT product stewardship scheme. The manufacturer’s Zero Landfill scheme was formally accredited last month under the Waste Minimisation Act.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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July 29, 2015

New breakthrough in energy-efficient smart windows

The Fifth Estate
Wednesday 29 July 2015

Researchers in the US are a step closer to commercialising smart windows that can selectively let in light and heat.

The researchers in 2013 developed a smart glass that could switch between blocking light, heat or both using a small jolt of electricity. Now they have further refined the development with a new “cool mode” and “warm mode”.

The researchers said the cool mode material was a major step towards commercialisation because it enabled the blocking of 90 per cent of near-infrared light and 80 per cent of the visible light from the sun, and took only minutes to switch between modes, whereas in 2013 it required hours.

The development of the “nanostructured architecture for electrochromic materials” could reduce energy costs associated with cooling buildings and homes in summer, the researchers said in Nano Letters.

“This material could be ideal for application as a smart electrochromic window for buildings,” Cockrell School of Engineering chemical engineering professor Delia Milliron said.

The researchers are now working on a low-cost manufacturing method.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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July 29, 2015

New Lending and Investment Tool Sets Agricultural Supply Chain on Sustainable Path, Reducing Deforestation Threat

Nairobi, Oxford, 29 July 2015 - A new lending and investment policy tool for financial institutions, unveiled today, aims to reduce the deforestation risk caused by the unsustainable production, trade, processing and retail of soft commodities, especially soy, palm oil and beef.

New research by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Natural Capital Declaration highlights the critical need to fundamentally strengthen how financial institutions view, address and manage deforestation and degradations risks.

Of the 30 financial institutions assessed, the majority did not have policies that explicitly require clients to comply with applicable local, national and ratified international laws and regulations related to forest conservation.

The study, entitled "Bank and Investor Risk Policies for Soft Commodities" highlights policies that banks and investors can adopt to help reduce deforestation and forest degradation risks resulting from unsustainable practices across agricultural supply chains that are major drivers of tropical deforestation.

An accompanying Soft Commodities Forest-risk Assessment Tool provides a framework to evaluate policies adopted by banks and investors to address deforestation and forest degradation risk in the agricultural value chain.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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July 27, 2015

Ikea: Going 100% renewable makes “good business sense”

By Jean Chua
Monday 27 July 2015

Ikea, the Swedish home furnishing firm, was built on the vision to “create a better everyday life for the many people” and to date, it has grown into a retail giant with more than 350 stores and 150,000 employees globally. The family-owned company is recognised not only for its functional and affordable furniture but is also building a name for itself with its trail-blazing efforts in its green energy and corporate sustainability strategies.

The company is part of RE100, an initiative of The Climate Group and CDP, to encourage the world’s most influential firms to commit to going 100 per cent renewable.Under its ‘People and Planet Positive’ sustainability strategy launched in 2012, it made the commitment to produce as much clean energy as it consumes by 2020.

From using sustainable cotton to recycling more than 87 per cent of the waste it generates, Ikea has won many accolades for its efforts, including the Guardian Sustainable Business Award and the BusinessGreen Leaders Awards’ Company of the Year.

It has already invested 1.5 billion euros on wind and solar power installations since 2009, and will continue to invest another one billion euros into producing renewable energy over the next few years, the company said in June.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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July 27, 2015

adidas unveils shoes made from ocean plastic trash

By Medilyn Manibo
Monday 27 July 2015

Plastic trash from the ocean and illegal fishing nets, two culprits behind the loss of marine animals in the ocean, are given a second chance to redeem their value on land by becoming adidas shoes.

The global sportswear maker unveiled last month its latest innovation in collaboration with non-profit group Parley for the Oceans, which partners with organisations and companies on projects that address the destruction of oceans from pollution and overfishing.

The concept shoes was launched on the sidelines of Parley Talks, a climate campaign event titled ‘Oceans. Climate. Life.’ and hosted on June 29 by the United Nations at its headquarters in New York.

The shoes’s “upper” - consisting of parts of a shoe that cover the toes, the top of the foot, the sides of the foot, and the back of the heel - is made entirely from ocean waste and illegal deep-sea gillnets that has been recycled, adidas said in a statement. The gillnets were retrieved by Parley for the Oceans’s partner organisation Sea Shepherd, which tracked an illegal poaching vessel during a 110-day expedition that culminated off the coast of West Africa in April this year.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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July 23, 2015

Cape Town to look at how SPP can reduce costs and increase sustainability

The City of Cape Town will be undertaking a review of its spending to assess where the greatest environmental impact can be achieved, including the role that sustainable public procurement (SPP) can play. The review will form part of the city’s commitment to increasingly include green procurement criteria into its bid specifications and evaluation for key products and services to improve resource efficiency and environmental sustainability and to unlock the potential of the green economy.

Cape Town is taking an international leadership role in the field of green procurement having joined the Global Lead Cities Network on SPP, which was established during the ICLEI World Congress held in Seoul (Korea) in April 2015. “Given its significant purchasing power, the public sector has a key role to play in driving the market for environmentally sustainable products and, consequently, promoting more sustainable consumption and production for a better future,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, Councillor Johan van der Merwe.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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July 23, 2015

Global call seeks end to plastic bags, even 'green' ones

By Medilyn Manibo
Thursday 23 July 2015

A global coalition of waste campaign groups - from South Korea to Philippines, from Montenegro to Bostwana - has called on governments worldwide to phase out single-use plastic bags to reduce pollution in oceans and landfills.

To mark the 6th International Plastic Bag-free Day on July 3, environmental groups led by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and Zero Waste Europe organised various campaigns to raise awareness on the damaging impact of plastic bags and urged governments to initiate policies banning or regulating their production, distribution, consumption and disposal.

Plastics bags are widely used in households and wet markets for food storage. Consumers worldwide use about 2 million plastic bags every minute, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a report last year. Their damage to marine ecosystems totals US$13 billion every year, UNEP added.

Scientists have reported that plastic kills many animal species - from camels to birds and turtles - and that the disintegrated plastic remains in animals’s body parts, possibly entering the human food chain.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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July 21, 2015

EU countries agree textile chemical ban

Valerie Flynn for ENDS Europe, part of the Guardian Environment Network
Tuesday 21 July 2015 12.25 BST

EU member states have agreed to ban a toxic substance widely found in clothing because it poses an “unacceptable risk” to the environment.

Countries unanimously voted in favour of extending existing restrictions on nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) to imports of clothing and other textile products.

The measure is intended to protect aquatic species. Use of NPE in textile manufacture in Europe was banned over 10 years ago but the substance is still released into the aquatic environment through imported textiles being washed.

The proposal was brought forward by Sweden in 2013 and backed by scientists at the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

NPE degrades in the environment into substances including nonylphenol (NP), which accumulates in the bodies of fish and disrupts their hormones, harming fertility, growth and sexual development.

Read more at The Guardian.

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July 21, 2015

EPA Releases Updated Environmental and Public Health Indicators in Online Database

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released updated environmental and public health indicators in an online database, making information about the current and historical condition of the nation’s environment and human health more accessible to the public. This is an online update to EPA’s Report on the Environment. Users can explore 85 individual indicators-- on our air, water, land, human exposure, health and ecological condition-- using interactive graphs, tables, and maps, and download the data for each indicator.

The Report on the Environment facilitates tracking the state of the nation’s environment and human health over time. Indicators are developed using up-to-date information from EPA, other federal agencies, state agencies, and non-governmental organizations. The indicators are peer-reviewed to meet high standards for accuracy, representativeness, and reliability.

Read more at Environmental News Network.

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July 16, 2015

Here's How Much It Costs to Run a Coffee Maker in 27 Countries

By Christina Nunez, National Geographic
Graphic by Monica Serrano, National Geographic
PUBLISHED JULY 16, 2015

How much is that cup of coffee? The answer depends not just on the price of the beans, but the electricity used to brew them and keep the pot warm. In Denmark, for example, running a drip coffee maker every day costs nearly $60 a year; in the United States, about a third as much.

The difference from country to country stands out in the graphic above, which shows average annual electricity costs for a coffee maker, television, and refrigerator. It's worth noting, though, that the numbers must be taken in context: Mexico's electricity prices rank as the cheapest among countries listed in a recent International Energy Agency report, but its median household income is less than one-sixth that of the United States.

The price of power depends on lots of factors, including taxes and utility fees, which take up more than half the power bill in Germany. Danes and Germans pay the most per kilowatt hour —39 and 38 cents, respectively—while people in most other surveyed countries pay 30 cents or far less.

For more information about the annual cost of running appliance and vote, visit National Geographic website.

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July 16, 2015

Banned contaminants can persist in environment for decades

Estuaries, where rivers meet the sea, are home to a unique mix of plant and animal communities. Some of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world, estuaries are critical to the development and maintenance of a range of aquatic species.

Yet these vital ecosystems are under threat from human pollution, exposing the organisms living within to chemicals including metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) — once used to reduce the risk of fire in electrical systems — and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can infiltrate the environment via the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels and oil spills.

These contaminants, which accumulate in the sediment at the very bottom of the water, reduce water quality and may pose risks to aquatic organisms due to their toxic, mutagenic and, in some cases, carcinogenic properties.

To guard against these threats, the European Commission has developed two directives that require the assessment of chemical status in water: the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

Read more at Science for Environment Policy.
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July 15, 2015

ADDIS: 'historic' agreement reached on financing for new UN sustainable development agenda

Countries agreed today on a series of bold measures to overhaul global finance practices and generate investments for tackling a range of economic, social and environmental challenges at the United Nations Third International Conference on Financing for Development, being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“This agreement is a critical step forward in building a sustainable future for all. It provides a global framework for financing sustainable development,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said after negotiators reached the deal at the Conference, which has been running in the Ethiopian capital since Monday, 13 July, and officially wraps up its work tomorrow.

“It gives us the foundation of a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development that will leave no one behind,” said of the groundbreaking agreement, which will be known as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

The agreement provides a foundation for implementing the global sustainable development agenda that world leaders are expected to adopt in New York this September and for reaching a binding agreement at UN climate negotiations in Paris in December to reduce global carbon emissions.

It marks a milestone in forging an enhanced global partnership that aims to foster universal, inclusive economic prosperity and improve people's well-being while protecting the environment.

Read more at UN News Centre.

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July 14, 2015

Major Firms Making ‘Significant’ Progress on Flexible Packaging Recyclability

Axion Consulting, Dow Chemical, Nestlé, Unilever and other global companies say they have made “significant” process in a project that aims to improve the recyclability of flexible packaging.

Axion Consulting is leading the collaborative R&D project, called Reflex. The partners include: Amcor, Dow Chemical, Interflex Group, Nestlé UK, SITA Holdings, Tomra Sorting and Unilever UK Central Resources.

The two-year project is co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Research so far has focused on exploring and evaluating alternatives to previously difficult to recycle multi-layer films, which are potentially more suitable for recycling and yet still deliver the performance requirements and technical properties needed for products ranging from confectionery to detergent.

Axion’s project engineer Richard McKinlay says the group has taken multi-layer packaging structures that currently use incompatible polymers and redesigned them using polymers, which can potentially be recycled together.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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July 10, 2015

Boeing Biofuel ‘Roadmap’ to 2020 Olympics Takes Flight

Boeing and Japanese aviation industry stakeholders have charted a course to develop sustainable aviation biofuel for flights during the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

The Initiatives for Next Generation Aviation Fuels — a consortium of 46 organizations including Boeing, All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Nippon Cargo Airlines, Japan’s government and the University of Tokyo — laid out a five-year “roadmap” to develop biofuel by 2020 as a way to reduce aviation’s environmental footprint.

Using sustainably produced biofuel reduces lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions by 50 to 80 percent compared to conventional petroleum fuel, according to the US Department of Energy.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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July 10, 2015

Mitsubishi Makes First Bioplastic Smartphone Screen

Sharp will use Mitsubishi Chemical’s bio-based plastic for its smartphone screen — a world’s first as bio-based engineering plastic has never been used on the front panel of any smartphone.

Most front panels of smartphones are made of glass, and their susceptibility to cracking has been an ongoing problem. This has led manufacturers to consider polycarbonate and other plastics for the front panels because of their lightweight and increased durability compared to glass. However, most traditional plastics were more prone to cracking upon impact, while others that were impact-resistant tended to have poor optical properties.

Mitsubishi Chemical developed Durabio is a bio-based engineering plastic made from plant-derived isosorbide, which offers higher resistance to impact, heat and weather than conventional engineering plastics. The company says it also has excellent transparency and low optical distortion.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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July 9, 2015

E-Waste problem not going away

While electrical and electronic equipment have never been more efficient, economical or in demand, consumers' desire to own the best and the latest is contributing to an environmental issue of increasing seriousness and concern, according to a new report.

"E-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in developing, emerging and developed regions and it covers all electrical and electronic equipment and parts discarded by consumers," says Dr Sunil Herat, Associate Editor of the journal Waste Management & Research and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.

"According to figures published in the Global E-waste Monitor 2014 and compiled by the United Nations University, last year an estimated 41.8 million metric tonnes of e-waste was discarded throughout the world.

"This comprised mostly end-of-life kitchen, laundry and bathroom equipment such as microwave ovens, washing machines and dishwashers, although mobile phones, computers and printers also featured.

Read more at Environmental News Network.

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July 9, 2015

Report: the green building era hits China

The Fifth Estate
Thursday 9 July 2015

China’s green building industry is exploding, with green space growing 154 times since 2008 and taking the lead from the US in terms of gross floor area, according to a new research report from global real estate services company CBRE.

The New Era of Green Buildings in China found that as of January 2015, China had 2538 projects with the country’s Green Building Evaluation Standard certification, representing gross floor area of 290 million square metres, as well as 627 LEED projects as of April 2015, adding an additional 28 million sq m.

“Adding the green building stock certified under the China Green Standard and LEED together, China already has 3165 certified green buildings, amounting to a total GFA of 320 million sq m, slightly higher than the 310 million sq m of certified LEED GFA in the US,” the report said.

While China had begun relatively late in the green building space, the report said the size of the Chinese construction industry (the largest in the world) meant there was significant room for growth. With increasing concern over environmental issues a strong pressure point, and a government commitment to reform the economy, further strong green building action is expected.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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July 9, 2015

The madness of drinking bottled water shipped halfway round the world

Oliver Balch
Thursday 9 July 2015 13.30 BST

Globally, we now drink as much packaged water as we do milk. At 30 litres per person per year, bottled water is the second most popular liquid refreshment after carbonated drinks – a market that it is set to supplant carbonates this year if predictions prove correct.

ottled water’s global boom is arguably driven by fear, firstly among developing world consumers who worry about water quality from the tap, and secondly among developed world consumers about the health impacts of sugary drinks.

Yet the prospect of global sales hitting 233bn litres this year brings another set of fears. “The problems of waste, inequity, high economic costs and impacts on local water resources are intrinsic to the entire industry,” says Peter Gleick, president of the US-based Pacific Institute and author of Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind our Obsession with Bottled Water.

Read more at The Guardian.

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July 8, 2015

How reusable bags change shopping decisions

Taking reusable bags to the supermarket can help identify the environmentally friendly shopper but a new study has now discovered the products they are more likely to buy.

New research in the Journal of Marketing reveals unsurprisingly that shoppers who take their own bags are more likely to purchase organic food – and more surprisingly, junk food as well.

The study describes: "Grocery store shoppers who bring their own bags are more likely to purchase healthy food. But those same shoppers often feel virtuous, because they are acting in an environmentally responsible way.

“That feeling easily persuades them that, because they are being good to the environment, they should treat themselves to cookies or potato chips or some other product with lots of fat, salt, or sugar."

The study by Uma R. Karmarkar of Harvard University and Bryan Bollinger of Duke University is one of the first to demonstrate that bringing reusable grocery bags causes significant changes in food purchasing behaviour.

Read more at Click Green.

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July 8, 2015

Malaysian timber certification scheme hopes for acceptance by The Netherlands

Bernama
Wednesday 8 July 2015

The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) hopes that the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) will be accepted by the Dutch Timber Procurement Policy, beyond 2016.

In a statement Tuesday, MPIC said Malaysia has provided the necessary feedback and information on the MTCS process to help the Dutch Parliament make a decision

“We have provided all necessary details in the Second Malaysia-Netherlands Joint Working Group (JWG) Meeting on Timber and Commodities held here today.

“Currently, MTCS has been given a conditional acceptance under the Dutch Timber Procurement Policy, which ends in June 2016.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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July 3, 2015

First Resources the latest palm oil giant to announce zero-deforestation commitment

Philip Jacobson
July 03, 2015

Palm oil giant First Resources has committed to eliminate deforestation and rights abuses from its supply chain, making it the industry's first company operating primarily at the grower level to do so.

The policy, announced on Wednesday, is the latest in a wave of sustainability commitments from corporations that produce, trade and use palm oil.

First Resources' policy was designed in conjunction with a coalition of environmental groups, including Switzerland-headquartered The Forest Trust (TFT), whose founder, Scott Poynton, argues that companies must move beyond certification schemes for timber and agricultural commodities.

Singapore-listed First Resources has long been a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an eco-certification initiative that requires its members to abide by certain social and environmental criteria when opening up new lands for plantations. But First Resources' new policy marks the installment of more stringent standards than those to which the RSPO holds its members.

Read more at Mongabay.com.

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July 2, 2015

Firmer ties between EU and ASEAN on clean technology

02 July 2015
By Vaidehi Shah

European clean technology firms and their Southeast Asian counterparts spent a week exploring new collaborations and growth opportunities during a trade mission to Singapore and Vietnam - a move that is expected to strengthen trade ties between both regions.

Organised by the EU delegation to Singapore, the EU Business Avenues trade mission brought 41 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from Europe’s energy efficiency, pollution, waste and water technology sectors to explore opportunities in Southeast Asia.

In Singapore, a two-day event from 16 to 17 June held at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre facilitated more than 250 meetings between SMEs from both regions on ways to tap on growth opportunities together.

Possible partnerships include distribution agreements, joint ventures to adapt European technologies for Asia, and Asian companies paying European companies royalties to use their technologies, said the organisers.

Raffaele Quarto, head of the EU Delegation to Singapore’s economic and trade section, noted that sustainable development is becoming a key priority for many countries in ASEAN.

Read more at Singapore Business News.

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July 2, 2015

Will the EU propose the most far-reaching reporting standards yet?

Edward Robinson
Thursday 2 July 2015 12.08 BST

One of the European commission’s more controversial decisions under president Jean-Claude Juncker’s Better Regulation initiative was to scrap the European Union’s circular economy package last year.

MEPs and the outgoing environment commissioner Janez Potočnik protested vocally until the new first vice-president of the commission (and regulatory hawk) Frans Timmermans pledged to re-introduce a “more ambitious” circular economy package with a much broader economic scope than the previous one, which had focused mainly on recycling targets.

Four commissioners will be responsible for the new package: Timmermans himself, along with the environment, internal market and competitiveness commissioners. They have launched a public consultation and are expected to publish new legislative proposals by the end of the year.

Lifecycle footprints for every product?
Viewed as the more environmentally active of the EU’s institutions, the European parliament has joint responsibility for crafting the legislation and has got ahead of the game by producing its own report and raft of recommendations on the circular economy – which the whole parliament will vote on next week.

One of the parliament’s most radical proposals is that the EU develop and introduce a “binding lead-indicator and a series of sub-indicators” to measure resource intensity by 2019. These would apply at member-state and industry-level and aim to quantify the lifecycle impact of goods produced in or imported to the EU in every sector. They could well involve individual companies having to account for the footprints of all their products in the way they are required to audit their finances. This is ambitious and will be subject to much lobbying.

Read more at The Guardian.

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July 1, 2015

Walking the Talk: WRI joins the CDP Supply Chain Program

Amanda Stevens
Wednesday, July 1, 2015 - 12:15am

The phrase “You can’t manage what you can’t measure” is one the World Resources Institute (WRI) firmly believes.

Not surprising, considering our 15-year track record of creating and supporting the Greenhouse Gas Protocol's well-known emissions-accounting standard. This year, WRI is going a step further in “walking the talk” by joining CDP’s Supply Chain Program.

Along with 72 corporations, a national government and one industry group in the program, we are connecting with our suppliers to request information about their GHG emissions management and water stewardship with CDP.

We’re doing this because, by understanding what actually happens up and down our supply chain — from the manufacturers of the computers we use to our healthcare providers — we are able to make informed decisions to reduce our environmental impact.

While individual action can be limited, acting together creates a much larger impact. CDP provides the opportunity to collectively address global environmental challenges through company purchasing.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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July 1, 2015

EcoProcura China 2015 sees announcement of GPP partnership initiative

Around 80 participants attended the ICLEI-organised sub-forum EcoProcura China 2015: International Dialogue on Green Public Procurement, held on 28 June 2015 during the Eco-Forum Global Annual Conference in Guiyang (China). The event saw the announcement of the ICLEI-supported Initiative on Green Public Procurement (GPP) China Partnership, which invites the participation of any Chinese local government, company or organisation interested in the implementation of GPP at the local level.

“We believe this partnership will provide a platform for facilitating international exchange on GPP solutions between Chinese local governments and relevant stakeholders, as well as promoting the implementation of GPP at the local level,” said Shu Zhu, Regional Director of ICLEI East Asia Secretariat. Attendees at the event included government officials in charge of public procurement, experts, and business representatives from China, Korea, Japan, Germany and Finland. Through a series of lectures and workshops, participants explored and discussed current GPP challenges and solutions.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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July 1, 2015

United to Fly on Jet Biofuel Sourced From Trash

CHICAGO, Illinois, July 1, 2015 (ENS) – United Airlines has invested $30 million in alternative fuels developer Fulcrum BioEnergy, a company that turns municipal solid waste into low-cost sustainable aviation biofuel.

The deal “represents the biggest strategic partnership in the biofuels and aviation industries,” the companies said in a joint statement Tuesday.

United said it’s the single largest equity investment ever made in alternative fuels by a U.S. airline.

“We know alternative fuels is an emerging industry that is vital to the future of aviation and this is just one of our initiatives to help make these fuels saleable and scalable,” said United’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel Brett Hart.

“Investing in alternative fuels is not only good for the environment,” said Hart, “it’s a smart move for our company as biofuels have the potential to hedge against future oil price volatility and carbon regulations.”

Solving two problems at once, utilizing the inevitable stream of municipal solid waste, Fulcrum converts municipal garbage into aviation biofuel.

Read more at Environmental News Service.

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June 30, 2015

Sustainable procurement leads to cheaper and greener cleaning services in Portugal

LIPOR, the body responsible for managing the waste produced by eight municipalities in the Porto Metropolitan Area (Portugal), reduced costs and increased efficiency through carrying out a procurement procedure for sustainable cleaning services in 2014. Sustainability criteria were included in all stages of the process, with the contract performance clauses specifically focusing on social responsibility.

Market engagement played a major role in the procurement, which resulted in a two year contract with the service provider that met all environmental and social demands for the lowest price. The dialogue with suppliers enabled LIPOR to find out more about the current solutions available on the market, and the extent to which suppliers were willing to engage in a complex and demanding tender.

The experience is one which LIPOR aims to replicate for future contracts. The take away lessons from the procedure include the importance of setting up a goal focused team to pursue the contract and to define sustainability criteria; monitoring contract implementation every six months to ensure that the service has been carried out to plan; and involving and establishing a dialogue with suppliers right from the start.

Read more at Sustainable procurement resource centre.

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June 29, 2015

Chevrolet is using old batteries to save … bats?

Antonio Pasolini
Monday, June 29, 2015 - 12:30am

Human ingenuity and creativity never fail to surprise us. As some of us may be aware, not only are bees dying out in worrying numbers, but bats are also suffering due to increased levels of ​white ​noise.

Perhaps bats do not have the same cutesy image as​ other animals, but they are really important for ecological balance, besides having an intrinsic value as any sentient being​.​ Bats can eat up to 5,000 insects per night, and as pollinators they play an important role in food crops. Pollinators are responsible for one-third of human food crops worldwide.

So, some clever folks at Chevrolet had a brilliant idea to re​-​purpose scrap Volt battery covers to protect bats.

The company has been building structures to protect bats for more than five years and more than 700 nesting boxes have been installed at its 40 wildlife habitat sites and on various public and private lands across the U.S. and Canada.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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June 22, 2015

Biodegradable batteries and induction charging cars: five tech trends to watch

Marc Ambasna-Jones
Monday 22 June 2015 07.00 BST

Earlier this year Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the UK government and now the special representative for climate change, told a climate conference that there should be a greater focus on green technologies to help tackle climate change. While most people would have no problem with this idea, the real issue is which technologies to back. We are not short on innovation.

Over the last 20 years, there have been 1.2m granted patents and published patent applications from across the US, Europe and some world territories, on the clean tech patenting site CleanTech PatentEdge.

Of course, many of these ideas may never see the light of day or are unworkable on a mass scale, so what are the more realistic and practical innovations? We’ve picked out five technologies that are worth keeping an eye on.

Transparent solar cells
An interesting development in alternative energy tech is the transparent solar cell. Imagine a phone or building or car being able to harness energy through its glass. Ubiquitous Energy, a startup born out of MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts and now residing in Redwood City, California, showcased its ClearView Power technology to the public for the first time last week.

With a thickness of less than one thousandth of a millimetre, the “glass” (it’s really a film) transmits light visible to the human eye, while selectively capturing and converting ultraviolet and near-infrared light into electricity to power a mobile device and extend its battery life. This, according to Ubiquitous Energy co-founder and CEO Miles Barr, is a key target for the company.

Read more at The Guardian.

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June 19, 2015

P&G and Sears share their secrets on the path to zero waste

Barbara Grady
Friday, June 19, 2015 - 12:05am

Zero waste has become a clarion call among cities and businesses trying to reach the ultimate in sustainability. Consumers and citizens want it.

In a world running out of space for waste and where the Pope himself has decried a “throwaway culture” and the export of certain waste to Third World countries for disassembly or recycling, zero waste is worthy of pursuit.

Many companies have taken it upon themselves to reduce waste, with some aiming for zero-waste generation. Even some very large companies such as Walmart, and some multifaceted manufacturers dealing with lots of materials, like Procter & Gamble, see zero waste as an achievable goal.

But getting to zero waste is tough, and making the claim of zero waste could be a minefield when vast supply chains or far-flung retail networks are taken into consideration. Proof had better be available, experts warn.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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June 18, 2015

US government clarifies position on electronics rating system

The US government has quashed NGO concerns (CW 9 April 2015) that it will stop using a tool that allows federal purchasers to identify electronics products that meet standards on hazardous substances, by confirming its use in an official document.

Last week, the government released instructions for implementing a presidential executive order (13693), which sets out requirements on how federal departments and agencies will increase resource efficiency and improve their environmental performance.

While the executive order did not mention the rating system, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (Epeat), the implementing instructions clarify that it is the only tool that allows the government to meet its sustainability goals for federal agencies.

Furthermore, alternative tools can only be used if the EPA does not have a recommended standard for the product category. The agency already recommends using Epeat on its greener products website.

NGOs, the Electronics Takeback Coalition and the Green Electronics Council [which manages Epeat], were concerned that by “abandoning” Epeat, the government was “opening the door for weaker standards to be used”.

Read more at ChemicalWatch.

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June 18, 2015

Consumers willing to pay sharp premium for wildlife-friendly palm oil, claims study

Mongabay.com
Thursday 18 June 2015

Shoppers may be willing to pay a 15 to 56 per cent premium for palm oil produced without the destruction endangered species’ habitat, asserts a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research, conducted by an international team of scientists led by Ian Bateman of the University of East Anglia, is based on consumer surveys and analysis of the cost of conserving wildlife habitat within oil palm concessions in Sumatra.

It found that the cost of conserving critical habitat could be more than offset by the price premium shoppers claim they would be willing pay for wildlife-friendly palm oil.

“Consumers’ willingness to pay for sustainably grown palm oil has the potential to incentivize private producers enough to engage in conservation activities. This would support vulnerable ‘Red List’ species,” said Bateman in a statement.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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June 16, 2015

Using big data could alert us to risks in the food supply chain

Toby Waine
Tuesday 16 June 2015 11.38 BST

As shoppers, we’ve become used to the reliable presence of brands in supermarkets. The idea of food scarcity and disruption to supplies doesn’t come into plans for our weekly food shop.

But the reality for many global food manufacturers is uncertainty. Chocolate production is one example. Some 40% of the world’s cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast, grown on farms with only a few hectares of cocoa trees. In China alone, US firm The Hershey Company estimates that sales of chocolate will grow 60% between 2014 and 2019 to a value of $4.3bn. This is partly thanks to a new-found love of chocolate among China’s growing middle classes.

But it’s not just chocolate. The problem is widespread, particularly with ingredients that only grow in specific climates, such as vanilla, tea, coffee and palm oil. Last year, the global coffee market saw shortages partly due to a drought in Brazil. This led to steep price rises and prompted Starbucks to acquire a new 600-acre Arabica farm in Costa Rica to study sustainability issues first hand.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

June 15, 2015

World’s ‘Thinnest’ Light Bulb, Made From Graphene, Debuts

By Wendy Koch, National Geographic
PUBLISHED JUNE 15, 2015

The quest for the better light bulb has taken yet another leap. This time, nanotechnology derives light from atom-thin strips of one of the world’s strongest materials: graphene.


For the first time, scientists say they’ve created a flexible and transparent light source with carbon in its purest form. They say their discovery could also eventually transform computers by using light rather than electronic circuits in semiconductor chips.

“We’ve created what is essentially the world’s thinnest light bulb,” says Columbia University engineering professor James Hone in announcing the findings. He co-authored a study, published Monday on Nature Nanotechnology's website, by a team of researchers from South Korea, Columbia's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Stanford University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Their approach is notable even in the rapidly changing world of light bulbs. In recent years, as the United States and other countries have moved to phase out Thomas Edison’s century-old incandescent, the market has moved toward much more energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs)—and beyond.

Read more at National Geographic.

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June 15, 2015

The shipping containers tackling South Africa's chronic childcare shortages

Rosie Spinks
Monday 15 June 2015 13.27 BST

Access to affordable childcare is a worldwide problem, particularly so in South Africa where just 16% of all children from birth to age four receives care from a government-regulated programme, according to Unicef.

Matchbox Africa is striving to reverse this shortfall. The Cape Town-based organisation installs repurposed shipping containers in non-white township communities to provide permanent spaces for existing community-run creches. But, unlike other charity projects entering a community and starting from scratch Matchbox taps into an established community network of local caretakers, explains project manager Verena Grips.

“There are so many people who do fantastic jobs working for the white communities in Cape Town, but their own kids are growing up in an environment that is completely un-resourced,” says Grips. “However, in these communities there are also many clever and helpful women, who use their skills as mothers to start locally-run creches to look after unsupervised children while their parents work.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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June 15, 2015

Printed solar cells hold promise for unlit rural areas

[SEOUL] Advances in printed solar cell technology promise clean renewable energy, opening possibilities for 1.3 billion people still without electric power in developing countries.

The technology, which only requires the use of existing industrial-size printers, can produce solar cells that are flexible and inexpensive to transport, says Scott Watkins, director of the overseas business unit of Korean firm Kyung-In Synthetic.

The malleable nature of the paper-thin solar cells makes it ideal for rural communities in remote locations, adds Watkins who spoke at the Smart Villages session of the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea on Monday (8 June).

Existing solar energy technology consists of silicon-based panels which are produced in wafers and require a large amount of sunlight to be efficient. Printed solar cells employ a more organic approach that uses perovskites, a mineral made out of a precise mixture of lead, iodine and a simple organic component.

Read more at SciDev. Net.

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June 11, 2015

Palm oil companies exploit Indonesia's people - and its corrupt political machine

Tomasz Johnson
Thursday 11 June 2015 07.00 BST

Throughout Indonesia, a vast archipelago draped across the equator, a human rights crisis simmers.

Over the past two decades, indigenous communities have seen the government hand their land over to private companies. These companies are largely producing one of two commodities: fast-growing timber species to supply the pulp and paper industry or palm oil, a remarkably versatile edible oil.

Despite President Joko Widodo’s promise to crack down on deforestation from palm oil expansion last year, the launch of the mandatory Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil certification scheme and a raft of voluntary commitments by palm oil companies, destruction and exploitation remain the norm.

The government estimates that thousands of communities are involved in active or latent conflicts with companies, the state and each other as a result. Individuals from Sumatra in the west to Papua in the east have become labourers on their own land. This is also an environmental disaster, as plantations for these crops surge into forests and carbon-rich peatlands.

Read more at The Guardian.

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June 10, 2015

Ha Noi's Japanese-technology waste treatment plant opened

The Ha Noi People’s Committee inaugurated a waste treatment facility, which works on an environmentally-friendly Japanese technology, at Xuan Son waste treatment zone in Son Tay Town yesterday.

The project, built on a total estimated expenditure of VND47 billion (US$2.16 million), includes a landfill covering around 3ha and has the capacity to treat around 100 tonnes of waste a day, said Nguyen Trong Dong, director of the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

As it becomes functional, the plant will be able to treat solid wastes from the capital’s western region, including Son Tay, Ba Vi, Phuc Tho, Thach That, as well as Dan Phuong, and Quoc Oai districts.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Fukuoka Governor Ogawa Hiroshi noted that Fukuoka prefecture has enough experience in tackling pollution and will cooperate and support Ha Noi in addressing various environmental issues.

Nguyen The Thao, chairman of the Ha Noi People’s Committee, elaborated the efforts of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment and the support of local authorities and residents in the construction of the plant.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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June 9, 2015

Sustainable Development Goals are not fit for purpose, experts warn

SPECIAL REPORT/ The United Nations has drawn up a list of 169 targets to replace the Millennium Development Goals, which expire at the end of this year. Experts have warned that this will stretch development budgets too far, and not provide value for money. EurActiv France reports.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 169 targets defined by the United Nations (UN) will be presented for adoption at the organisation's New York summit in September.

But the new SDGs, which will follow on from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), are not to everyone's taste. Critics argue that quality should not be sacrificed for quantity.

Excessive list

The sheer scale of the proposed objectives has already drawn criticism from many quarters. "We can say they are ambitious, too ambitious perhaps, when you consider the failures of the last 15 years," a source from the NGO Aide et Action stated, in reference to the moderate success of the Millennium Development Goals. The MDGs were just eight goals and 21 targets.

The new SDGs are not only more numerous, but also more complex and more difficult to implement than their predecessors. One side effect of this abundant new list of targets may be to reduce the priority of issues like poverty, nutrition and education, which were the backbone of the previous MDGs.

Bjørn Lomborg, the founder of Copenhagen Consensus Centre, said, "Promising everything to everyone gives us no direction. Having 169 priorities is like having none at all."

Another concern is the extent of the finances needed in order to achieve such a long list of targets. Estimated at $135 to $195 billion per year for the eradication of poverty, and $5 to $7 trillion a year for infrastructure investments, the cost of the new SDGs would massively exceed the current global development aid budget.

Read more at EurActiv.com.

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June 9, 2015

Malaysian government announces impressive green public procurement target

The national government of Malaysia has set ambitious sustainable development targets, including committing to 20 percent of all government procurement being green by 2020. Unveiled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Raza, the proposed reforms are outlined in the document the 11th Malaysia Plan, which covers the period 2016 – 2020.

Through embracing green procurement, the government hopes to encourage greater sustainability within the private sector and stimulate production of green products and services. "Government Green Procurement (GGP) will be made mandatory for all government ministries and agencies. The GGP will create the demand for green products and services, encouraging industries to raise the standard and quality of their products to meet green requirements," states the document.

Read more at Sustainable procurement resource centre.

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June 8, 2015

From oil to algae: eco-friendly asphalt could be the route to greener roads

Rich McEachran
Monday 8 June 2015 13.38 BST

The process of surfacing a road isn’t complicated. Layers of asphalt, which is composed mostly of bitumen (a byproduct of crude oil distillation), are poured over an aggregate of crushed stone and sand; the asphalt acts as a glue, binding the mixture together to form asphalt concrete.

Maintaining the roads, however, is a costly job. According to the Asphalt Industry Alliance it would cost more than £12bn to restore all road networks in England alone to a reasonable condition.

Simon Hesp, a professor and chemical engineer at Queen’s University in Ontario, believes standard industry asphalt is not sustainable. “The problem with the composition is that it’s poorly controlled … it uses materials with poor performances,” he says. Hesp says the presence of certain oil residues lowers the quality of the concrete and is a key reason why roads are failing and many potholes need to be filled and cracks fixed.

But there’s not just a maintenance cost. Asphalt, dependent as it is on the oil industry, is resource- and energy-intensive, which is why the race is on to develop a greener alternative.

In Sydney an experiment is under way using printer toner waste blended with recycled oil to produce an environmentally friendly asphalt. And in the past few years there have been studies into the development of non-petroleum bioasphalts.

Read more at The Guardian.

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June 7, 2015

Paint companies commit to comply with phase-out deadline for leaded decorative paints

QUEZON CITY, June 7 -- The results of a new study that detected high levels of toxic lead -- a brain-damaging chemical -- in solvent-based paints applied on the interiors and exteriors of homes, schools and other child-related facilities, drew positive reactions from paint companies who committed themselves into shifting to non-lead materials.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a not-for-profit watchdog group for chemical safety and zero waste, released the “Lead in New Enamel Household Paints in the Philippines: The 2015 Report” last Thursday at an event attended by over 100 people, including educators, parents and representatives of the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers, Philippine Institute of Architects, Philippine Medical Association and the San Juan Division of City Schools.

As per laboratory analyses conducted in Europe, 97 out of the 140 solvent-based decorative paints (69 percent) -- mostly made by smaller manufacturers—had lead levels above 90 parts per million (ppm). Sixty-three of these paints contained dangerously high lead concentrations above 10,000 ppm, with four brands containing lead between 102,000 to 153,000 ppm, the report noted

The Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds (CCO), signed by Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje in December 2013, provides for a 90 ppm total lead content limit in paints and directs a phase-out period until 2016 for leaded decorative paints and until 2019 for leaded industrial paints.

Read more at Philippine Information Agency.

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June 5, 2015

How the apparel industry is cleaning up textiles

Amanda Cattermole
Friday, June 5, 2015 - 1:15am

Since 2013, Greenpeace’s “Detox” campaign against apparel companies successfully has catalyzed new approaches to eliminate hazardous chemicals from products and supply chains. It's not just activist pressure, but also the desire within the industry to do good, that is driving the reduction of hazards in everything from children’s clothing to sportswear.

Efforts to reduce hazardous chemicals and environmental pollution in the manufacturing supply chain include the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index, the Outdoor Industry Association’s Chemicals Management Module and the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals’ Roadmap to Zero.

Restricted substances
Traditionally, such efforts have centered around Restricted Substance Lists, which have been used in the textile industry since the late 1990s. They contain restricted chemicals that are usually, but not always regulated. These chemicals can be used in manufacturing and be present in consumer products, as long as the amount is not greater than the allowable limit.

The RSL is a tool to help brands meet regulatory compliance requirements and is typically implemented in three steps:

1. Establish the allowable limit in the product.

2. Train and educate manufacturers to implement the RSL.

3. Verify through product testing.

Because restricted chemicals may be used in manufacturing, there is always the possibility that hazardous chemicals may end up in discharge water.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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June 4, 2015

APRIL, RGE finally commit to zero deforestation

By Vaidehi Shah
Thursday 4 June 2015

After years of being shamed as industry laggards in tackling deforestation, Indonesian paper company Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL) and its parent conglomerate, Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) group, have finally committed to zero deforestation across their supply chains.

RGE on Tuesday unveiled a new sustainability framework which pledges that all pulp and paper companies under the group and their third-party suppliers will stop clearing natural forest until assessments to set aside land that is carbon-rich forest or has a high conservation value have been carried out.

The framework also promises that future plantation development will only take place on land that is not considered ‘High Carbon Stock’ - an industry classification that assesses the carbon contained in vegetation, soil, and biomass - so that carbon-rich areas can be conserved.

Furthermore, no development will take place on forested peatland, which are carbon-rich wetlands. Indonesia’s peatlands store an estimated 60 billion metric tonnes of carbon, and when they are drained to make way for plantations, they dry out and are vulnerable to catching fire - the root cause of the annual haze pollution that plagues Southeast Asia.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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June 3, 2015

How to do 'more and better with less'

By Vaidehi Shah
Wednesday 3 June 2015

The world’s population is expected to soar from 7 billion today to almost 10 billion by 2050. If society has not changed the way it produces and consumes things by then, it will require resources from three planets to survive and this will surpass the earth’s ability to sustain life, says the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The UN agency warns that many of the earth’s ecosystems that provide water, food, and energy are already near critical tipping points today. This is why living within planetary boundaries is the “most promising strategy for ensuring a healthy future”, says UNEP.

This year, for this year’s World Environment Day on June 5, UNEP has chosen to put the focus on sustainable consumption and production, and breaking the link between economic growth and negative environmental impacts.

To achieve this, businesses have a role to play by doing “more and better with less”, as UNEP puts it in its campaign message. This involves developing new business models that aim to reduce waste, improve energy efficiency, and recover resources back from products at the end of their life cycle.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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June 2, 2015

Companies call for tougher sustainability standards for palm oil

Alison Moodie
Tuesday 2 June 2015 00.32 BST

Businesses are often urged to adhere to tougher green standards. But on Monday, 16 companies rallied together with investors and NGOs to call for more oversight for palm oil production, which is a huge contributor to deforestation.

Big-name companies such as food and beverage multinational PepsiCo, retail giant Walmart and coffee chain Starbucks, as well as numerous investors and NGOs, signed a letter, released Monday, urging the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to enforce stricter standards.

“As an international certification scheme, the RSPO is uniquely positioned to support, promote, and enforce the widespread uptake of responsible and sustainable production practices across the palm oil industry,” the letter states. “Given current shortcomings of RSPO certification, however, purchasing RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) does not sufficiently address critical sustainability concerns in the palm oil supply chain.”

Palm oil is the cheapest vegetable oil on the market, and is used in approximately 50% of consumer goods from cosmetics to packaged foods. Imports to the United States have jumped 485% in the past decade, and this increased demand has led to the rampant destruction of rainforests and the displacement of local communities to make way for palm oil plantations, primarily in Indonesia and Malaysia. Most worryingly, by razing rainforests to farm the oil, companies are releasing dangerous quantities of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, making palm oil production a big contributor to climate change.

Read more at The Guardian.

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June 2, 2015

PM launches country's first green public transportation system

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak Monday launched the country’s first public transportation system using environment-friendly technology.

He said the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Sunway Line, developed by the Prasarana Group and the Sunway Group, was a public transportation project of international standard and a pride of the nation.

“This project fulfills the desire of the government to develop an efficient, reliable and convenient public transportation system,” he said when launching the line near Petaling Jaya.

Najib also launched an electric bus, which made its way into the Malaysia Book of Records as the country’s first electric bus deployed on the public transportation system.

The prime minister said today’s achievement reflected the use of smart technology in the effort to ease traffic congestion and reduce carbon emissions.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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May 29, 2015

Car makers gear up for next round of CO2 emission cuts

As the EU prepares for tough negotiations on reducing CO2 emissions from cars post-2020, industry lobbyists, green campaigners and the European Commission alike seem to agree on one thing: deeper emission cuts from road transport will require a more “holistic” approach.

Just what “holistic” means is still subject to discussion, however.

On June 18, the European Commission will fire the starting gun on the next round of talks to reduce emission from the road transport sector.

A formal legislative proposal on reducing car’s CO2 emissions will not be tabled before 2016 but lobbyists of all kinds are already lining up their arguments.

For carmakers, the matter is clear: cutting CO2 beyond the 95 grams per kilometre currently required by 2020 will call for “a comprehensive approach” that looks at other things than mere fuel efficiency improvements.

It means looking at the whole range of alternative fuels – including electric and others – but also connectivity aspects and the renewal of Europe’s gas-guzzling fleet of old vehicles, according to Erik Jonnaert, the Secretary General of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).

Read more at EurActiv.

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May 28, 2015

Nanocoating on buildings releases potentially toxic particles to the air

Weathering and abrasion are reported to cause titanium dioxide nanoparticles to escape from a self-cleaning coating for buildings. These particles may be toxic to humans and wildlife. The researchers have developed three indicators from the test results to help predict levels of nanoparticle release from these coatings.

Photocatalytic coatings containing nano-sized particles of titanium dioxide are increasingly applied to the outside of buildings for their antibacterial and self-cleaning properties. Weathering and wear can cause them to disintegrate and there are concerns about the subsequent release of nanoparticles into the environment. Various studies have found that some types of titanium dioxide nanoparticles have damaging effects on humans and animals. For example, experiments have shown that they can damage DNA.

This study investigated weathering and wear’s effects on a photocatalytic nanocoating to help predict levels of nanoparticle release into water and air. The coating was comprised of 1.1% titanium dioxide particles by volume, which were around 8 nanometres in size.

Over a seven-month period, the researchers exposed a brick painted with the coating to UV light and water to recreate the effects of weather. At four intervals — two, four, six and seven months — they measured titanium levels in the runoff water. Titanium was measured as it is not possible to measure the relative number or percentage of titanium dioxide nanoparticles specifically. However, the coating’s nanoparticles were the only type of titanium in the experiments.

Read more at "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service.

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May 27, 2015

US Recycling Industry Generates $105bn Annually

The scrap recycling industry in the US generates more than $105 billion annually in economic activity and accounts for nearly half a million jobs, according to a study released by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

The study was performed by the independent consulting firm of John Dunham and Associates to explore the size and scope of the scrap industry in the US, and measure its contribution to the economy in terms of employment, tax generation, and overall economic benefit.

According to the report, the recycling industry is responsible for 471,587 direct and indirect jobs in the US. This includes 149,010 direct jobs that pay an average of $77,153 in wages and benefits. Direct jobs include those in facilities that process scrap materials into new, usable commodities. Indirect jobs come from those that supply machinery, equipment and services to processors, and the wages and taxes paid by the scrap recyclers to their workers and suppliers.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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May 26, 2015

InnProBio aims to stimulate demand for bio-based products and services in Europe

The EU-funded InnProBio project will increase the number of public procurers equipped to carry out the procurement of innovative bio-based products and services, leading to better purchasing practices. With the public sector controlling around one fifth of European GDP, public procurers can significantly influence demand for, and investment in, renewably produced products.

The 2014 EU Procurement Directives have made it easier for public procurers to purchase innovative goods and services, but many remain unsure of how to start the process. Through the project, procurers will be provided with much needed guidance and support tools, while standardisation bodies will be enlisted to offer definitive information on products that carry the “bio-based” tag. Joint trainings, workshops and other networking activities will be held in the scope of the project, with a focus on training those who are in a position to retrain others in their locality.

Read more at Sustainable procurement resource centre.

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May 26, 2015

Australia: ‘Road-Ready’ Fuels Made From Waste Plastic

BERKELEY VALE, New South Wales, Australia, May 26, 2015 (ENS) – Australia’s first commercial-scale plant to convert waste plastics to “road-ready” fuel has produced its first batch.

The facility will turn discarded non-recyclable household plastics into diesel, gasoline and the electricity needed to power the facility.

Foyson Resources is behind the new A$4 million facility at Berkeley Vale, about 90 kilometers north of Sydney on Australia’s east coast.

Based in North Sydney and publicly traded on the Australian Stock Exchange, Foyson Resources is engaged in the exploration and development of gold, copper, and molybdenum deposits in Papua New Guinea.

Integrated Green Energy Ltd, IGE, is constructing the facility, which uses IGE’s proprietary catalytic re-structuring technology.

This technology subjects shredded plastic to a high temperature heat stream – above 400 degrees Celsius – in the absence of oxygen. This causes the polymer to break down into smaller molecules, forming gas and liquids which resemble crude oil.

The liquids are fractionated into hydrocarbons in the form of gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel.

The road-ready fuels that have been produced will be independently tested and evaluated, Foyson said in a statement May 18.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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May 26, 2015

Toxic cadmium one step closer to EU-wide ban

The European Parliament voted last week to re-assess the used of cadmium in TV sets sold across Europe, saying safer alternatives to the toxic and carcinogenic substance were now widely available.

Cadmium is widely used in illumination and display lighting applications such as LCD screens used in television sets or desktop computers.

The substance was exempted from the EU directive on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) because safer alternatives were not available at the time of adoption, in 2002. RoHS requires replacing heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium, with safer alternatives, when available.

The European Commission had proposed extending the exemption until July 2017, arguing that cadmium-free quantum dots technology was not yet technically available.

But MEPs rejected that claim, saying it was “manifestly incorrect”.

Read more at EurActiv.

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May 26, 2015

Renewable energy trading set for big boost as SC upholds green obligation

Jyoti Mukul
New Delhi May 26, 2015 Last Updated at 00:03 IST

Compulsory purchase of renewable energy got a major boost last week from a Supreme Court order, even though it is likely to increase the power cost for a host of industries dependent on captive power generation and direct purchase of power for their manufacturing units. With the apex court upholding renewable purchase obligation, power purchasers in all states would have to follow the regulatory norms for renewable purchase obligations (RPO). This would also boost the market for renewable energy certificates (RECs), which are traded and bought to meet the RPO.

The apex court in the order said regulations framed by electricity regulatory commissions imposing obligation upon captive power plants and open access consumers to purchase electricity from renewable sources cannot, in any manner, be said to be restrictive or violative of the fundamental rights. The court ruling, in a case filed by Hindustan Zinc against the Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission, came on May 13. The court also ruled out the case filed by a number of firms, including DCM Shriram, Binani Cements, JK Lakshmi Cement and UltraTech Cement and has favoured the Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission's decision that compelled these players to procure fixed amounts of energy from renewable sources or entitled to pay money, in case they failed to meet the requirements.

Read more at Business Standard.

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May 22, 2015

Companies cannot keep shying away from setting tough climate targets

Pedro Faria
Friday 22 May 2015 13.17 BST

Today the low carbon economy is worth over £3tn. This fact is just one of many showing how far the business case for addressing climate change has come, with smart businesses broadening their strategy beyond risk management to value creation. Business leaders who shared their vision of a low-carbon future in Paris this week echoed this sentiment, calling on governments to lock in the right frameworks and targets to help deliver this goal.

Yet, despite the emphasis on government target setting, the goals that come from businesses are just as important. Balancing near-term targets with longer-term climate risks is one of the most complex risk management challenges facing company executives today. Businesses increasingly recognise that emissions reductions will need to be ambitious, because going over the 2C warming limit is not a viable economic option.

The good news is that many companies are already setting themselves greenhouse gas reduction goals. In 2014 over 80% of the world’s 500 largest companies reported having an emissions reduction target. But in this critical year for climate action, it is no longer sufficient to set just any target.

For companies, figuring out how much greenhouse gas emissions they can continue to release is one of the biggest hurdles to framing their long term goals. Our analysis of 70 energy intensive companies shows that a small handful are leading the way by setting ambitious and long term emission reduction targets in line with climate science. However, most are not and the majority of targets reported through CDP tend not to extend beyond 2020, suggesting a lack of long-term strategy to stay within the global carbon budget.

Read more at The Guardian.

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May 21, 2015

Parliament votes for tougher conflict minerals regulation

European gold, tantalum (the material that makes mobile phones vibrate), tungsten and tin imports from conflict zones could be subjected to tougher surveillance procedures under a new draft regulation voted on by the European Parliament.

MEPs in Strasbourg voted to enforce an obligatory monitoring system for the whole supply chain of "conflict minerals", affecting 800,000 European companies.

Applause broke out as lawmakers at the last minute passed amendments calling for compulsory ethical sourcing of materials from conflict areas like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia and Afghanistan. The amendments passed by a vote of 378 to 300, with 11 abstentions.

"I must confess that it's been one of the most intense moments I've experienced since becoming a member of the European parliament," said Socialist Gianni Pittella of Italy, who leads the second biggest bloc in the assembly.

Mineral importers, smelters and refineries, but also manufacturers of consumer products (mobile phones, tablets, washing machines) will have to ensure that revenues from the minerals they use are not funding conflicts.

The bill is largely aimed at Africa, where minerals play a role in several violent conflicts. The Great Lakes region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is particularly affected by the phenomenon. Mineral production accounts for an average of 24% of gross national product (GDP) in African countries, and is implicated in no fewer than 27 conflicts on the continent.

Read more at EurActiv.

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May 18, 2015

Battle lines drawn as EU Parliament votes on ‘conflict minerals’

The European Parliament will consider this week whether to follow the United States by bringing in tighter controls on minerals from war zones, but critics say the measures risk being watered down.

Armed groups in areas such as the Democratic Republic of Congo often fund their activities through the sale of precious metals and those used in electronic goods such as laptops and mobile phones.

The European Parliament will vote on a regulation this week that would force the EU's smelters and refiners to use responsibly sourced minerals, while encouraging other businesses to self-certify their supply chains.

The aim is to ensure profits from the key "blood metals" - tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold - do not go to warlords.

It is inspired by the Dodd-Frank Act, a 2010 US financial reform law under which US companies must inform regulators if they use metals from DR Congo or neighbouring countries.

But the conflict minerals have themselves sparked a battle in Strasbourg, the French city that is home to the European Parliament.

Read more at EurActive.

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May 18, 2015

Countries Move Forward on Important Issues for Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Waste

Geneva/Nairobi/Rome,16 May 2015

Significant steps were agreed upon early this morning by parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, as the 2015 Triple COPs drew to a close.

Staged under the theme "From Science to Action: Working for a Safer Tomorrow" from 4 to 15 May 2015, almost 1,200 participants from 171 countries converged on Geneva to push forward the chemicals and waste agenda at this biennial event.

A number of technical guidelines for the management of waste under the Basel Convention, four new listings (three under the Stockholm and one under the Rotterdam Conventions - polychlorinated napthalenes, hexachlorobutadiene, and pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters; and methamidophos respectively), and continued and strengthened synergies and implementation arrangements were the highlights of the decisions adopted on the final day. Meanwhile several chemicals considered were not listed, but instead deferred or made subject to special inter-sessional working group focus.

Basel Convention technical guidelines, aimed at assisting Parties to better manage crucial waste streams and move towards environmentally sound management (ESM), were adopted covering mercury waste and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) waste (one general and 6 specific waste-streams). Of high significance is the adoption on an interim basis of the technical guidelines concerning the transboundary movement of e-waste and used electronic and electrical products.

The BC technical guidelines on electronic, or e-waste provide much-needed guidance on how to identify e-waste and used equipment moving between countries, with the aim of controlling illegal traffic. Adoption came just days after UNEP released new data suggesting that as much as 90% of e-waste is dumped illegally, costing countries as much as US 18.8 $ billion annually and posing severe hazards to human health and the environment, particularly in Africa. Designed to provide a level playing field for all parties to the Convention, the guidelines will support and also encourage genuine recovery, repair, recycling and re-use of non-hazardous electronic components and equipment.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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May 14, 2015

Less material consumption is not the end for business

Jules Pretty
Thursday 14 May 2015 16.21 BST

The past half century has seen dramatic lifestyle changes for people in affluent countries. Per person, GDP in the UK has risen nearly four-fold. Each of us consumes more, has more stuff, benefits from abundant technology and transport, there is more diverse food and better housing, and we live longer.

Yet there is a worrying fact: average wellbeing and happiness across whole populations has not changed over 50 years.

This seems odd. Every government in all affluent countries wants their economy to grow; all engage in collective panic when material consumption slows or stops. In the poorest countries, of course, more consumption is good. It means food, shelter, water, education, transport. Yet after about $10,000 (£6,300) per capita GDP, the returns for wellbeing flatten off.

One explanation for this is that material consumption also produces many costly side effects on both human health and the natural environment. It gives with one hand and takes away with the other. The external costs of modern living have risen dramatically. Now we have to spend to solve the problems created by the very material consumption we thought was solely good. The costs of conditions and diseases caused by modern lifestyles are eye-watering. We have calculated that seven conditions – mental illness, dementia, obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, loneliness and cardiovascular disease – now cost Britain’s NHS £60bn a year and result in £184bn of costs to the whole economy. The revenue expenditure of the NHS is some £100bn annually.

Read more at The Guardian.

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May 14, 2015

Philippines lets Canada dump waste

By Medilyn Manibo
Thursday 14 May 2015

The Philippines government is allowing the allegedly smuggled tonnes of household and plastic scraps from Canada to be disposed within its territory amidst public protests, two years after the waste was discovered by port authorities in Manila.

Philippines president Benigno Aquino III confirmed to Filipino reporters on Friday - during his state visit to Canada - that the waste issue has been addressed by the government’s executive agencies, when asked if he felt the matter need not be raised with Canadian authorities. He said that appropriate action - whether the waste will be incinerated or buried in a landfill - will be taken once the court gives clearance to the agencies.

Aquino’s statement drew flak from environmental and public health campaign groups in the Philippines, which have been pressing Canada for more than a year now to take back the waste.

Aileen Lucero, a coordinator with non-profit group EcoWaste Coalition, said on Monday that Aquino had let the Filipino people down for not standing up for the country’s sovereignty. “It’s a bizarre stance coming from a country with a gargantuan garbage problem to deal with and we deplore it,” she added.

Before Aquino’s departure to Canada, Lucero’s group and other environmental campaign groups, including BAN Toxics, Greenpeace Philippines and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, had urged the president not to “sweep the issue of Canada’s waste under the rug” and to tackle it with Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.

The NGOs were concerned that the government agencies’s decision to dispose the waste in the country, announced by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in March this year, had been influenced by the president’s state visit and that the waste issue is being sidelined by the government so as not to hurt the two countries’s diplomatic relations.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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May 14, 2015

Supermarket ordered to remove products with anti-palm oil labels

The Star
Thursday 14 May 2015

Kuching: A supermarket here has been directed to remove products with anti-palm oil labelling from its shelves following complaints from the oil palm industry.

The state Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry has instructed the supermarket to stop selling the products after inspecting the premises on Wednesday.

It said the products were imported from Australia and were believed to have entered the market here about a week ago.

The labels, which showed an orang utan urging shoppers to buy palm oil-free products to help save the animals, earned the ire of Land Development Minister Tan Sri James Masing when they were brought to his attention on Tuesday.

He criticised the “unfriendly” labelling for being unfair to Malaysia’s palm oil industry and as being based on incorrect facts.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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May 13, 2015

Multinationals cannot prevent palm oil deforestation on their own

Andrew Bovarnick, Samantha Newport and Tomoyuki Uno
Wednesday 13 May 2015 12.56 BST

As the world’s largest producer and exporter of palm oil, Indonesia counts on this much-used commodity – that generates almost $20bn a year for the country and employs millions – to drive growth and development.

But the palm oil boom has triggered controversy. With Indonesia set to increase production by 50% by 2020 to meet rising demand, the question is not one of palm oil or not, but of how to maximise the economic and development benefits while minimising the adverse social and environmental effects.

To achieve this, the government needs to bring together all palm oil stakeholders, including private businesses and smallholder farmers, to lead on innovative yet decisive change that will boost sustainability and governance in the sector and steer the country towards a deforestation-free palm oil industry.

Taking action
Shortly after taking office last year, Indonesian President Joko Widodo vowed to crack down on deforestation resulting from palm oil expansion. Last month, vice-president Jusuf Kalla called on the international community to partner with Indonesia on investing in green development at The Tropical Landscapes Summit (TLS) in Jakarta.

The government has also launched a mandatory certification scheme – the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) standard – to legalise and organise production, particularly that of small producers, by providing a legal baseline standard that will complement the voluntary Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standard. ISPO, like new standards, has to overcome challenges to become robust and credible, but once fully operational has the potential to raise the standards of all growers in the country and have a major positive impact on the sector.

Read more at The Guardian.

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May 12, 2015

Illegally Traded and Dumped E-Waste Worth up to $19 Billion Annually Poses Risks to Health, Deprives Countries of Resources, Says UNEP report

Geneva, 12 May 2015 - Up to 90 per cent of the world's electronic waste, worth nearly US $19 billion, is illegally traded or dumped each year, according to a report released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Each year, the electronic industry - one of the world's largest and fastest growing - generates up to 41 million tonnes of e-waste from goods such as computers and smart phones. Forecasts say that figure may reach 50 million tonnes already by 2017.

A staggering 60-90 per cent of this waste is illegally traded or dumped, according to UNEP's "Waste Crimes, Waste Risks: Gaps and Challenges In the Waste Sector", launched today in Geneva, at the Conference of Parties to the three major conventions addressing the global waste issue, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) estimates the price of a tonne of e-waste at around US $500. Following this calculation, the value of unregistered and informally handled, including illegally traded and dumped e-waste ranges from US $12.5 to US $18.8 billion annually.

UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP, Achim Steiner said: "We are witnessing an unprecedented amount of electronic waste rolling out over the world. Not only does it account for a large portion of the world's non-recycled »waste mountain«, but it also poses a growing threat to human health and the environment, due to the hazardous elements it contains."

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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May 12, 2015

Child labour won't stop with conflict-free labels and voluntary codes

Josephine Moulds
Tuesday 12 May 2015 14.48 BST

A fight is brewing in Europe over new rules for companies to report on so-called “conflict minerals”, which are commonly found in mobile phones, laptops, lightbulbs and jewellery.

The minerals at stake are gold, tantalum, tungsten and tin, which are mined in conflict or high-risk areas, such as parts of Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Zimbabwe. Trade in these minerals can fund armed groups and fuel human rights abuses, in particular for children. Armed groups in the DRC are widely condemned for their use of child soldiers. Extraction of the minerals is predominantly done at small-scale mines, where forced labour, often by children, is endemic. Given the hazardous working conditions, child labour in mines is categorized as one of the worst forms of child labour.

This month , the European parliament will discuss proposals for a new regulatory system for companies involved in the trade of these minerals. This largely conserves the existing system, which relies on self-certification. Only the EU’s smelters and refiners will be forced to use responsibly sourced minerals; other companies in the supply chain will not be required to comply with binding transparency standards.

Read more at The Guardian.

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May 12, 2015

Parliament must bar toxic cadmium from Europe

TVs containing cadmium are no longer available in Europe since a ban was decided under the 2002 Directive on Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in electrical and electronic equipment. But cadmium could return via the back door following intense lobbying efforts by some manufacturers, writes Michael Edelman.

By Michael Edelman, CEO United Kingdom-based Nanoco Group plc, a world leader in the development and manufacture of cadmium-free quantum dots and other nanomaterials.

Cadmium, a toxic substance and carcinogen regulated by the Directive on Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in electrical and electronic equipment, will be permitted in displays of televisions and other equipment destined for the European market if a controversial Delegated Act is implemented by MEPs during the week commencing 18 May 2015.

At the heart of the debate is whether new LCD televisions using cadmium-based quantum dot (QD) technology should be allowed into the European market. Quantum dots are tiny fluorescent particles that have optical properties used in televisions and other displays to improve colour quality of the picture and reduce power consumption.

Under a 2011 European Directive on RoHS, the use of cadmium in TVs and lighting was to be permitted until 1 July 2014, after which it would be illegal. However, in January 2015, the European Commission proposed a Delegated Act that would allow cadmium in televisions in Europe until June 2018. But since 2011, manufacturers have been conducting a managed withdrawal of products containing cadmium from the EU market to meet the original July 2014 deadline.

Read more at EurActive.com.

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May 6, 2015

Fix more, buy less: can Patagonia help rebrand repairs?

Lauren Hepler
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 - 2:37am

There is no shortage of activity at the San Francisco debut of Patagonia's newest sustainability-centric campaign.

Beneath the airy, lofted ceilings at the Potrero Hill headquarters of Yerdle — an app to buy and sell extra stuff sans actual money, in which Patagonia invested some of its very real money last year — happy hour is in full swing.

Next to the plastic tubs packed with cans of Tecate and Sierra Nevada, Patagonia is providing hors d'oeuvres in the form of sustainably-sourced salmon, neatly packaged in spicy salmon rolls, along with samples from a new line of inca berry and almond bars. There is also a kale and quinoa medley of some sort up for grabs.

Around the corner, in a small nook of the open office, kombucha is brewing. Just across the hall, there's a do-it-yourself succulent garden workshop and a demo on shaping surfboards with more environmentally-friendly foam cores.

"This is the most San Francisco moment ever," one bystander quietly says to a friend.

But the big draw for the event is outside, where a white truck adorned in reclaimed wood holds a small team of garment repair techs and a limited selection of Patagonia threads.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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May 5, 2015

The UK company turning coffee waste into furniture

Josephine Moulds
Tuesday 5 May 2015 16.06 BST

Britain was falling in love with coffee just as Adam Fairweather was exploring ideas for new products and materials. Ten years ago, Starbucks stores were opening on every corner, followed by the burgeoning industry of artisan coffee roasters.

Fairweather, a designer by training and expert in recycling technologies and materials development, now develops materials from coffee grounds and uses them to design products including furniture, jewellery and coffee machines.

A poll of 2,000 Britons by Douwe Egberts in 2012 found 69% spent between £1 and £5 in coffee shops five days a week. “We use coffee as a moment to take a break, it’s a luxury product,” says Fairweather. “The idea that it already had this high value but we only use a little of it, that was interesting because I felt that there was a way of tapping into this perceived high value the product has intrinsically.”

On average, we use just 18% to 22% of the coffee bean when we make a cup of coffee but Fairweather says that coffee waste is not “the biggest problem”. “There are already massive recycling programmes in the UK that manage organic food waste very well. My interest is that we can use materials that have a perceived value to them, to communicate and get people excited about the idea of sustainability and social change and environmental management.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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May 1, 2015

Palm giants ask Indonesian gov't to clear path toward sustainability

Philip Jacobson
May 01, 2015

Executives from palm oil giants Wilmar, Cargill and Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) appeared at a green investment summit in Jakarta this week, providing a window into the nature of a high-profile, joint sustainability pact the companies have entered into together with Asian Agri, Musim Mas and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).

The agreement, known as the Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP), has been lauded in some quarters for its potential to transform the sector, a major driver of the country's sky-high deforestation rate, and dismissed in others as mere lip service to protecting the environment.

Despite the IPOP firms' control of at least four fifths of global palm-oil refining capacity, questions remain about how much influence they can exert over their vast, often opaque supplier networks.

"These are complicated, fragmented supply chains, so a lot of these buyers – and they'll admit it – they don't know who they're buying from," Andrew Bovarnick, the head of the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) global Green Commodities' Program, told Mongabay on the sidelines of the Tropical Landscapes Summit on Tuesday.

Antitrust concerns also loom over the pledge, with some from among the companies suggesting they might not be able to cooperate to the extent necessary to realize their ambitious goals.

Asked if he was worried about violating competition guidelines, perhaps via a collective blacklist of problematic suppliers, Wilmar's chief sustainability officer, Jeremy Goon, answered, "Yes. And if someone wants to come up with an issue with that, they can. … Of course there are concerns."

Read more at Mongabay.com.

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April 29, 2015

EU to halve plastic bag use by 2019

The European Parliament passed a law on 28 April to drastically cut down on single-use plastic bags. EurActiv France reports.

Single-use plastic bags could soon become a thing of the past in European supermarkets. On Tuesday (28 April), MEPs approved the final version of a text drastically limiting the use of plastic bags in EU member states.

These bags, which are often only used once, are a scourge on the environment, take several centuries to degrade and are particularly harmful to marine ecosystems.

Around eight billion of these bags end up polluting the European environment every year, according to estimates.

Limits in 2019 and 2025

Gilles Parneaux, a Socialist Party MEP, said that in France alone "an estimated 122 million plastic bags pollute 5,000 kilometres of coast".

The new law requires member states to progressively reduce their use of plastic bags, with an initial threshold of 90 bags per person per year by 2019, followed by 40 bags in 2025. Certain countries like Hungary, Portugal and Poland and heavy plastic bag users and will have to make radical changes in order to comply with these limits.

At the other end of the scale, some EU member states like Finland and Luxembourg already find themselves on the right side of the future limits. With an average consumption of 79 plastic bags per person per year, France is already well below the first threshold.

Read more at EuActive.

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April 28, 2015

Ministry ready to give loans to open green stores, says minister

Ministry ready to give loans to open green stores, says minister

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said his ministry is prepared to give loans to companies keen on opening shops that promote environmentally friendly products.

To qualify for the Green Technology Funding Scheme (GTFS), companies have to have certification such as from Sirim or the MyHijau scheme, he told reporters after opening a 'GR!N Store' here today.

The store, located at Super Pharmacy Warehouse in Petaling Jaya, is the first of its kind in Malaysia, and is a collaboration between Green Purchasing Network Malaysia (GPNM) and Symbion Biotech Sdn Bhd.

Mahdzir said criteria for eligibility as a GR!N Store include green practices such as efficient energy usage and waste management, eco-labelling of products, and promotion of green products.

He said collaboration between the public and private sectors is vital to further enhance the green technology industry, which in 2013 contributed RM7.9 billion or 0.8 per cent to the country's Gross Domestic Product.

According to the GTFS website, an eligible company can get a loan of up to RM10 million to promote green products.

Read more at The Malaysian Insider.

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April 27, 2015

Green Purchasing Network India (GPNI) has released its Newsletter

Green Purchasing Network India (GPNI) has conducted a study about consumer perceptions of green products in India and reported the study result in its Newsletter.
For more information, please download the file here.

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April 24, 2015

Nike and Adidas show cautious support for eco-friendly dye technology

Stephanie Hepburn
Friday 24 April 2015 10.34 BST

It has been a significant step forward for the textile sector. Up until now the effluent from dye houses that can often be seen in rivers flowing through the textile manufacturing areas of India, China and elsewhere is a result of unabsorbed dyes, chemicals and heavy salts that are used during the dyeing process.

A number of companies, DyeCoo, ColorZen and AirDye have set out to address this pollution by designing waterless dye technology. The result is a reduction in wastewater, energy, chemicals and toxic discharge to such a degree that it could revolutionise the textile industry.

Major brands including Nike and Adidas have been integrating waterless dye technologies into their product lines, but costs and limitations have experts in the textile industry worried that the support will not last.

“Right now there is very low uptake of use of these technologies,” says Andrew Filarowski, technical director at Society of Dyers and Colourists. The textile industry is viewed as low-cost entry into industrialisation of countries, meaning that lower-cost technologies are used even when superior technology is available.

The technology
“Cotton is actually fairly difficult to dye and there is a lot of associated pollution,” says Michael Harari, president and co-founder at ColorZen. His company cuts the need for chemicals, salts and alkalis by offering a pre-treatment service for cotton, which makes that cotton more receptive to dye. Harari says “the result is up to 90% less water, 75% less energy and 95% less chemicals, and zero toxic discharge.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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April 23, 2015

Local and national interests clash in Indonesia's palm oil industry

Oliver Milman
Thursday 23 April 2015 15.43 BST

The industry of palm oil, the product found in everything from chocolate to lipstick that is habitually reviled by environmentalists, is facing new challenges due to unrest in key producing regions.

It was reported by the Cameroonian Association of Oil Refineries this month that the export of refined products including palm oil from several African nations, including Nigeria and Cameroon, has been “virtually at a standstill” for several months due to a spate of murders and kidnappings committed by Islamic militant group Boko Haram.

The unexpected slowdown in palm oil production in Africa, seen as a key growth area for the product, comes as political tensions are heightening in Indonesia, the world’s leading producer of palm oil.

According to statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Indonesia produces around 30m tonnes of crude palm oil a year and, along with Malaysia, accounts for nearly 90% of the world’s supply.

Proponents of palm oil point out that it’s cheap and efficient to grow and use, although critics point out that huge tracts of rainforest have been cleared – at a rate of around 690,000 hectares a year between 2006 and 2010 – to make way for the crop, putting engendered species such as the orangutan under severe threat.

Read more at The Guardian.

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April 23, 2015

New biodegradable waste management plans proposed and evaluated

Researchers have designed and proposed a new organic waste management plan for Catalonia, Spain, and presented it in a recent study. They say that the plan would reduce a number of environmental impacts that arise from landfilling biodegradable waste, including natural resource depletion, acidification, and eutrophication.

For this study, the researchers proposed a new biowaste management plan. They used model simulations to examine the outcomes of using the plan to treat the annual amount of organic municipal solid waste produced in Catalonia in 2012 (1218 gigagrams (Gg)). In particular, they looked at the impact of using anaerobic digestion for recycling biowaste to produce biogas, adding sludge to soil, and various forms of industrial and home composting treatments.

They compared this new plan with those of actual waste management in 2012 in terms of impacts on abiotic (non-living) natural resource depletion, acidification, eutrophication, global warming, ozone layer depletion and summer smog.

The proposed management model meets the requirements of the Landfill Directive, as well as the new Catalan waste management plan (2013–2020). As incineration or disposal to landfill of untreated municipal solid waste is banned, the new plan is designed to cope with the increased volume of organic waste (food and green waste) collected by local authorities.

Read more at "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service.

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April 21, 2015

Better Resource and Energy Efficiency 'begins at home'

Nairobi, 20 April 2015 - Buildings last longer than almost all other types of products and the world around them can be expected to undergo great change during their lifetime. In the next 15 years, two billion more people are expected to move to the world's cities, particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The built environment is rapidly changing, contributing to environmental challenges such as climate and land-use change, natural resource scarcities and waste generation, but it also provides vital opportunities for more sustainable lifestyles.

Globally, the buildings and construction sectors account for 40 per cent of global energy use, 30 per cent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, about 12 per cent of water use, and nearly 40 per cent of waste. They also employ about 10 per cent of the world's workforce.

A new programme, launched today, aims at improving the social, environmental and economic performance of buildings by promoting resource and energy efficiency, and a shift towards more sustainable consumption and production patterns in the building and construction sector.

The Sustainable Buildings and Construction (SBC) Programme aims to foster a clearer understanding and appreciation of sustainable buildings among relevant stakeholders and to identify the knowledge, resources and incentives required to build, maintain and use them. It also aims to ensure that structures are healthy to live and work in; that they use land, energy, water and other key resources sustainably; that they respect environmental limits and are responsive to climate change; and that they contribute to the social and economic development of the communities in which they stand.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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April 20, 2015

Valuable But Toxic: World’s E-waste Goes to Waste

The United States and China produce the most e-waste overall – 32 percent of the world’s total. But the top per capita e-waste producers are the wealthy nations of northern and western Europe, the top five being Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.

In 2014, people worldwide discarded all but a fraction of an estimated 41.8 million metric tonnes of electrical and electronic products – mostly end-of-life kitchen, laundry and bathroom equipment like microwave ovens, washing machines and dishwashers.

And the volume of e-waste is expected to rise by 21 percent to 50 million metric tonnes (Mt) in 2018.

The new figures were released Sunday in the Global E-Waste Monitor 2014, a report compiled by the United Nations University, the UN’s think tank.

UN Under-Secretary-General David Malone, rector of UNU, said, “Worldwide, e-waste constitutes a valuable ‘urban mine’ – a large potential reservoir of recyclable materials. At the same time, the hazardous content of e-waste constitutes a ‘toxic mine’ that must be managed with extreme care.”

Read more at Environment News Service.

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April 17, 2015

It’s time to stop managing waste and start preventing it

Frank E. Celli and Rick Perez
Friday, April 17, 2015 - 1:00am

Diverting the world’s estimated 12 million tons of daily waste is no easy task. Today’s waste management strategies are often costly, cumbersome and bad for our environment.

In order to really reduce impacts on the environment while increasing profitability, companies need to aggressively shift the focus from waste management to waste prevention.

Companies in all industries have the potential for increased profitability, efficiency and reduced environmental impact when they make the decision to start preventing their waste. Whether it is occurring during production or consumption, a high waste output is an unnecessary expense.

Incorporating a strategic waste-savings plan into your business model, instead of paying for waste removal services, is a great way to tie waste reduction directly to the bottom line.

But waste prevention is also a matter of focus. When businesses start thinking about recycling and zero waste, they tend to start with the more obvious materials: paper, plastic, cardboard, glass and aluminum. These recyclable products are easily monetized and can generate revenue.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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April 15, 2015

Circular economy could bring 70 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2030

Anders Wijkman
Wednesday 15 April 2015 12.45 BST

Odds are, your mobile phone is less than two years old. Today’s economy is built on a “fast turnover” principle. The faster we replace our gadgets the better – not only our phones, but most items we consume.

This leads to a staggering inefficiency in the way we manage the Earth’s resources, with increased pollution, loss of ecosystems and substantial losses of value with each product disposed. A new study from The Club of Rome, a global thinktank, highlights that moving to a circular economy by using and re-using, rather than using up, would yield multiple benefits.

This Swedish case study, the first in a series of reports in 2015, suggests that 2015 is a key window of opportunity to start modernising the EU economy, while boosting jobs and tackling climate change ahead of the UN climate change conference, COP 21, in Paris in December.

It analyses the effects of three strategies underpinning a circular economy: renewable energy, energy efficiency and material efficiency. It concludes that by 2030, carbon emissions could be cut by almost 70% if a key set of circular economy policy measures were adopted.

In addition, caring for items through repair, maintenance, upgrading and remanufacturing is far more labour-intensive than mining and manufacturing in highly automated facilities. In moving to a more circular economy, the number of additional jobs would likely exceed 100,000 – cutting unemployment by more than a third.

Read more at The Guardian.

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April 13, 2015

Global Lead Cities Network on sustainable public procurement launched

Seoul Metropolitan Government and ICLEI have joined forces to establish a Global Lead Cities Network on Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP). The aim is to create a worldwide network of leading cities that share and develop their capabilities to implement sustainable and innovation procurement, driving a transition to sustainable production and consumption. The network was launched at the ICLEI World Congress in Seoul (Republic of Korea) on 11 April 2015.

The network marks a recent growth in international interest and understanding of the importance of procurement in the fight against climate change. It has been set up to raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable and innovation procurement, and to help develop a supportive political framework. According to the United Nations Office for Project Services, an average of 15 percent of global gross domestic product is spent through public procurement systems each year, amounting to over $10 trillion. Public authority spending has real potential to change the future, achieve significant value for organisations and provide tangible benefits to the environment and the well-being of our society.

Read more at ICLEI Europe.

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April 9, 2015

Lessons from Apple and Walmart: 4 ways to really cut supply chain risk

Sumit Kumar
Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 2:00am

Recent history has presented many examples of well-known companies — Apple, Walmart, Target, Primark and Tesco, to name a handful — facing the ire of customers, investors and governments due to flaws in their supply chains.

As a result, it is increasingly clear that unsustainable supply chains can have negative reputational, as well as financial, implications. That realization is now elevating the sustainability of supply chains for organizations worldwide.

Part of the credit for this increased awareness also goes to organizations such as the Carbon Disclosure Project and Global Reporting Initiatives for sharpening the focus around these topics.

Unfortunately, however, the approach to achieving sustainable supply chains has become a stereotype, as most organizations end up only meeting baseline compliance.

Purchasers go by clichéd “sustainable procurement guidelines” that list expectations from suppliers on common sustainability parameters and act as a screener at the time of on-boarding a supplier. But this approach defeats the purpose, especially for critical suppliers, because of its inherent limitations:

1. A straitjacket approach for all suppliers results in weak guidelines, which mostly seeks basic compliance to environmental, labor and human rights laws.

2. Once that weak guideline is met, there is little incentive for the suppliers to improve their performance.

These shortcomings then create a situation where neither the buying organization nor its suppliers are focused on improving the sustainability performance of suppliers beyond basic certifications.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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April 8, 2015

Consortium launches e-waste recycling programme in Vietnam

The Vietnam Recycling Platform on April 6 launched the Vietnam Recycles programme to collect and recycle used, end-of-life and broken electronic equipments in Viet Nam for free.

The platform is a consortium established by American technology giants Hewlett-Packard and Apple.

The programme helps manufacturers and customers to follow regulations on collecting and recycling of waste, which were issued by the Prime Minister on August 9, 2013, and took effect from January 1, 2015.

It also aims to raise the responsibilities of manufacturers for collecting and recycling end-of-life electronic products and electrical household appliances.

The electronic waste will be recycled in an environment-friendly way to ensure that maximum resources are collected after the recycling.

Since the end of January 2015, the programme has been providing free e-waste collection and recycling services to governmental agencies, organisations and enterprises in Ha Noi and HCM City. From July, the people living in the two largest cities will be offered free services.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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April 6, 2015

How can agriculture solve its $5.87 billion plastic problem?

Elizabeth Grossman
Monday, April 6, 2015 - 1:15am

“Seed trays, drip tape, mulch film, water pipes, hoop house covers, twine, hose, fertilizer bags, totes, tool handles and everything we use to keep ourselves dry.” On a rainy March afternoon, Kara Gilbert, co-owner of Vibrant Valley Farm, rattles off how plastics are used on the farm as she stamps mud off her boots.

On a visit to the four-acre farm on lush Sauvie Island at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers near Portland, Ore., Gilbert gives me a tour de farm plastics. The fields are just being readied for the season, but black plastic already is laid out under a hoop house. PVC water pipes are being set into place and drip irrigation tape is ready to be deployed, as are plastic sacks of fertilizer. Out in the greening field, little orange-pink plastic plant tags on ankle-high stakes flap in the wet breeze to mark rows of just-sprouted peas.

By farming standards, this is a tiny operation. It sells organic produce to 15 or so local restaurants and through community-supported-agriculture shares, and grows flowers it sells wholesale. But even this small farm, Gilbert said, spends between $4,000 and $6,000 on plastic every year. Maybe more. It’s an environmental trade-off, she explained: Using plastic means saving water.

“In our very fickle climate, if we want to have a local food movement and want to compete with California and Mexico, it’s almost imperative that we have the black plastic,” Gilbert said.

“Plastic film or road cloth is a weed suppressant,” explained farm co-owner Elaine Walker. “Black plastic can retain heat and moisture so you don’t need to water as much and you can grow things in the offseason.”

Whether it’s this small organic farm coaxing an impressive yield out of a few acres in Oregon or a large conventional operation somewhere else in the world, plastic is a huge part of modern agriculture — a multi-billion-dollar worldwide industry, according to Penn State Extension. Billions of pounds are used around the world each year, with much of the plastic designed for one season’s use.

There’s a growing recognition by farmers and others in the agricultural community of the need for environmentally responsible disposal solutions for these materials. The question, though, is how to do that with materials designed to not break down in rain, sun and heat, and that can — if burned or left to degrade — pose environmental health hazards.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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April 6, 2015

Govt levies palm oil exports to fund biodiesel push

Indonesia, the world’s top palm oil producer, will impose a levy on exports of crude palm oil to help pay for biodiesel subsidies, replanting, research and development of oil palm farmers to boost their production.

Palm oil exporters would be levied US$50 per metric ton for crude palm oil (CPO) shipments and $30 for processed palm oil products — when CPO prices stand at below $750 a ton — said Coordinating Economic Minister Sofyan Djalil. CPO prices hovered around $590 a ton recently, he added.

“The funds will be used to compensate the price differences between the regular diesel and biodiesel […] I hope the President will sign [a policy] on Monday or Tuesday,” Sofyan told reporters on Saturday, adding that the policy would become effective this month.

The government is pushing efforts to boost domestic use of biodiesel to reduce dependence on fossil fuels that are largely imported and have added pressure on Indonesia’s current account deficit — the broadest measure of international trade that has made investors jittery about the country’s assets.

The government will keep imposing other tax charges on CPO shipments when prices exceed $750 a ton with rates ranging between 7.5 percent and 22.5 percent for higher prices. It sets the tax monthly, based on monthly average prices in Jakarta, Rotterdam and Kuala Lumpur. But since October last year, duties were cut to zero as CPO prices dipped below the reference price.

Read more at The Jakarta Post.

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April 3, 2015

New Recycling Approach Would Decrease Contamination, Improve Yields

Anthony Georges, president of Amut North America, is touting a new recycling approach that relies more on plastic recycling facilities (PRFs), Plastics News reports.

While existing materials recycling facilities (MRFs) are designed to handle a variety of recyclables, they have historically emphasized paper at the cost of plastic. Georges says that the yield from the plastics recycling stream can be increased by sending plastic bundles from MRFs to stand-alone PRFs for further processing.

Not only would sending plastics through supplemental processing increase the yield of usable recyclables, it would also cut down on contamination. When processed through MRFs, plastics can be contaminated by other recyclables and resins. Sending plastics through an added PRF would improve the sort of plastics, remove contamination and create a higher quality, more valuable, bale.

It’s not only plastics that can be contaminated, Georges adds. While convenient, single-stream recycling results in different recyclables contaminating different recycling streams. The reduction in quality ultimately limits the revenue for all recycling streams.

The pounds of used bottles collected for recycling in the US has grown for 24 consecutive years. In 2013, plastic bottle recycling grew 120 million pounds, edging up 4.3 percent, to top 2.9 billion pounds for the year.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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April 2, 2015

Singapore, Indonesia lead growth in sustainable investing in Asia

Singapore Business News
Thursday 2 April 2015

While Asia still lags Europe and the United States in sustainable investing, the market for funds employing such strategies is healthy and expanding rapidly in the region, with Singapore and Indonesia leading the growth.

Asia’s sustainable investment assets – defined as funds employing sustainable investing strategies – stood at US$53 billion at the beginning of 2014, an increase of 32 percent from the US$40 billion at the start of 2012. That’s 0.2 percent of the global total.

These are the findings of The Global Sustainable Investment Review 2014, a report released on 24 Feb by the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA), a group of sustainable investment organizations that include the European Sustainable Investment Forum (Eurosif) and Association for Sustainable & Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA).

Sustainable investment is an investment approach that considers environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors such as climate change and human rights in portfolio selection and management.

Globally, the sustainable investment market stood at US$21.4 trillion at the start of 2014, up nearly 61 percent from US$13.3 trillion at the start of 2012. The fastest growing region was the United States, followed by Canada and Europe. Together, they account for 99 percent of global sustainable investing assets.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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April 2, 2015

Mediterranean Sea 'accumulating zone of plastic debris'

By Helen Briggs
BBC Environment correspondent

Large quantities of plastic debris are building up in the Mediterranean Sea, say scientists.

A survey found around one thousand tonnes of plastic floating on the surface, mainly fragments of bottles, bags and wrappings.

The Mediterranean Sea's biological richness and economic importance means plastic pollution is particularly hazardous, say Spanish researchers.

Plastic has been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, turtles and whales.

Very tiny pieces of plastic have also been found in oysters and mussels grown on the coasts of northern Europe.

"We identify the Mediterranean Sea as a great accumulation zone of plastic debris," said Andres Cozar of the University of Cadiz in Puerto Real, Spain, and colleagues.

"Marine plastic pollution has spread to become a problem of planetary scale
after only half a century of widespread use of plastic materials, calling for urgent management strategies to address this problem."

Plastic is accumulating in the Mediterranean Sea at a similar scale to that in oceanic gyres, the rotating ocean currents in the Indian Ocean, North Atlantic, North Pacific, South Atlantic and South Pacific, the study found.

A high abundance of plastic has also been found in other seas, including the Bay of Bengal, South China Sea and Barents Sea in the Arctic Ocean.

Read more at BBC News.

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April 1, 2015

How to pitch environmental performance to your market

Terry Swack
Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - 1:00am

Thanks to industry drivers and growing demand, environmental performance has taken its rightful place alongside functional performance, cost, aesthetics, safety and other criteria in product creation and purchasing.

Now it is time to include it in marketing.

Consumers and B2B customers — tired of greenwashing — are beginning to demand scientific evidence and rigorous methodology to support manufacturers’ green claims. So, marketing needs to go beyond mere claims to include verified metrics of environmental performance — delivered in a way purchasers can understand.

Volumes of international standards lay out the rules for measuring, reporting and publishing environmental information about products. These reports are referred to as declarations or disclosures. They are detailed, often lengthy technical documents.

But environmental disclosures have been intentionally created separate and apart from the other information manufacturers create to market and sell their products.

The word disclosure suggests the unveiling of information the owner would prefer to keep hidden. Indeed, synonyms for disclosure include words such as confession, exposure, leak, betrayal and declaration. Many manufacturers feel this way, which is why uptake of marketing with scientific evidence and metrics has not been rapid.

Legal issues about disclosing hazards and concerns about numeric results that aren’t actually comparable among products are keeping many manufacturers from being transparent while asking "What’s the value?"

Increasing reporting on a product’s environmental performance, especially in North America, remains voluntary and optional.

But if the only way today’s standards programs allow for providing information is in the form of a technical disclosure or declaration, the value proposition will continue to be difficult to make. It’s a stick, not a carrot.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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March 26, 2015

Indonesia defends deforestation for palm oil on economic grounds

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Clearing forests for palm oil plantations is a “technical” matter that should not get tied up with trade discussions, an Indonesian minister told a land and poverty conference.

Growing global demand for palm oil is fuelling rapid deforestation in Indonesia, at a faster pace than in Brazil’s Amazon region, making Indonesia a major contributor to global warming.

But Prabianto Mukti Wibowo, assistant deputy minister for forestry in the Economic Affairs Ministry, told a World Bank conference on land and poverty held in Washington this week that deforestation was a rich-country concern.

“We know that our primary customers are not concerned about deforestation,” he said.

Asian nations, led by India, China and Pakistan, buy 55 per cent of Indonesia’s palm oil exports, while Europe buys only 8 per cent, yet Europe puts much of the pressure on Indonesia not to cut down and burn forests to make way for plantations, he said.

Palm oil is important to Indonesia’s development because it reduces poverty by bringing roads, schools and other infrastructure to rural communities and generates five million jobs that benefit 15 million people, Wibowo said.

The pace of forest loss declined rapidly between 2009 and 2013, he said, even before last year’s New York Declaration on Forests called for an end to deforestation by 2020.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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March 26, 2015

How a greener trucking industry could save $40 billion per year

Helen Marks
Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 12:00am

The global trucking industry produces 1.6 billion metric tons of CO2 per year (PDF), making it responsible for 5.75 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Even when the rest of us are enjoying cheaper fuel, fuel remains the largest cost of operating a truck, costing more to a company than the driver. Heavy-duty tractor-trailers in the United States alone consumed 25 billion gallons of fuel in 2013. That’s around $105 billion at average 2013 prices.

With trucking predicted to grow by 2 percent or more each year, improving the fuel efficiency of this industry is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting profit margins in an increasingly regulated industry. Achieving an average fuel efficiency of 9 MPG — a 50-percent increase from the current level of 6.2 MPG — would save North American trucking $40 billion per year in fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent.

Identifying available solutions and market barriers to adoption
The good news is that there are options to make this happen. The adoption of numerous efficiency technologies makes economic sense for fleets and truck owners under current market and policy conditions.

“If 100 percent of the heavy-duty tractor-trailers in the U.S. invested in a set of aerodynamic devices by 2020, the fleet would avoid 50 million tons of CO2,” said Tessa Lee, an associate researcher at Carbon War Room. “This would save nearly $33,000 in fuel costs per truck over the five-year life of the truck, paying back the initial investment in just 14 months.”

Recognizing over 70 efficiency technologies available in the industry that offer cost savings and relatively quick return on investment, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) and Carbon War Room (CWR) began investigating why — with profitable solutions at-market in the industry — fleets weren’t lapping up the solutions. NACFE was launched in 2009 with the help of RMI, as an outcome of the Transformational Trucking Charrette and the NACFE inaugural meeting, both highly supported by the industry.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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March 24, 2015

How packaging plays in the circular economy

Katherine O'Dea
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 1:00am

A circular economy business model revolution is underway in a number of industry sectors — apparel, building products, durable goods and electronics, to name a few.

One driving factor is cost savings. Another driver, of course, is the increasing recognition that economic growth must be decoupled from resource consumption or our planet's resources simply will run out.

In a circular economy business model, value is found in new uses of materials; it is about continuous material valorization. By design, circular economy business models enable companies to retain more of the value of the materials, energy and labor inputs that go into producing goods and services.

One of the earliest crusaders for a circular economy approach, circa 1992-1993, was Xerox Corp.'s Jack Azar, associate director of environmental products and technology at that time. Azar developed what he called Asset Recovery Management (ARM) programs or “managing products and inventory to minimize their environmental impact at all stages of the life cycle [which] entails reusing an asset either by remanufacturing to its original state, converting to a different state, or dismantling to retrieve the original components.”

He implemented the program by limiting production materials to recyclable and recycled thermoplastics and metals. When Xerox applied ARM, they got out of the business of selling copiers and went into the business of selling copies. Customers leased the machines and when the lease period expired, they got upgraded models and Xerox reclaimed the original resources for use in next generation machines.

The commercial carpet industry has a more recent implementation of circular economy practices. Three industry leaders — Interface, Shaw and Desso — all provide the service of floor covering by leasing carpet, which they take back when worn, during a building renovation or when customers desire to change their floor covering. After recovering their material asset, old carpeting, they separate the backing material from the carpet fibers, reprocess both and use them to manufacture new carpet tiles.

These companies reduce their reliance on virgin resources and leverage existing material investments to produce new carpeting via take-back programs. By rethinking their linear model of material consumption and product delivery, they divert used carpet away from landfill and extend the utility and value of the materials. As a bonus, their customers avoid carpet disposal fees.

With both Xerox and carpet manufacturers, it's easy to visualize how the traditional business model of take, make, use and dispose is transformed from a one-way linear system into a resilient and restorative cycle.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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March 23, 2015

We're all losers to a gadget industry built on planned obsolescence

Rosie Spinks
Monday 23 March 2015 07.00 GMT

It’s hard to deny that the smartphone has in part changed the world in favour of consumers. It helps us avoid expensive SMS costs thanks to online messaging apps, undercut taxi and hotel companies with the likes of Uber and Airbnb, and generally serves as a remote control to the sharing economy.

But when you shift the focus from what our devices help us access to how we access the devices themselves, the picture is less rosy.

Once we own a new device, we often can’t replace its batteries or take it to an independent repair shop for a simple fix. In fact, proprietary screws on Apple products often prevent us from opening Apple devices at all. It’s standard practice for companies to plan obsolescence into their products — including by introducing software upgrades that aren’t compatible with existing hardware (pdf) — and they simultaneously profit from the fact that the average laptop has a high likelihood of breaking within 3-4 years.

Equally, while the smartphone is a device that’s intended to be taken everywhere — the pub, the loo, on a run — it is fragile and desirable enough to be rendered useless with just a few drops of water or an opportunistic thief. All this leads collaborative economy expert Rachel Botsman to ask: why is it consumers who take on all the risk?

Read more at The Guardian.

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March 19, 2015

How businesses can engage consumers in their sustainability stories

Katharine Earley
Thursday 19 March 2015 17.51 GMT

Communicating simple, inspiring stories of efforts to tackle complex social and environmental issues is an ongoing challenge for today’s businesses. Somewhere amid the cacophony of sustainability communications, consumers are reaching information overload.

As the effects of corporate ‘greenwashing’, ethical scandals and climate change doom-mongering take their toll, a kind of apathy is taking hold. Globally, just 28% of people believes business is doing enough to protect the planet and contribute to society, according to Accenture and the UN Global Compact (pdf).

In 10 years, the pressure to deliver concrete proof of green claims will intensify. “We’ll see a push for radical transparency and increasing scrutiny of businesses by consumers,” says Futerra co-founder Ed Gillespie. “To make their sustainability stories stand out from the crowd, businesses will need to make a fundamental transition – to reconnect with a deeper sense of purpose. This must fit perfectly with their core business, capture how they add value to the world, and resonate with people emotionally and rationally.”

So how will businesses of the future communicate their sustainability stories effectively and, further, inspire people to take action?

Read more at The Guardian.

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March 16, 2015

Smart Buildings Reduce Owners’ Costs, Slash Resource Consumption

A UL study predicts disruption in the building market over the next five to 10 years as owners, operators and investors of buildings increasingly recognize the potential of innovation in building energy consumption, water usage and indoor air quality to positively impact their bottom lines.

In the white paper, The Dawn of the Building Performance Era, UL chief economist Erin Grossi describes the transition that is happening in the market from design-driven approaches to achieving sustainability goals to a greater focus on the actual performance of buildings on the operations side of the house.

“Access to more information about how efficiently buildings are being run can significantly reduce costs and slash consumption of resources for building owners.”

Grossi also addresses the issue of indoor air quality, which she refers to as a “sleeper issue” in the US. She finds a major cause of poor indoor air quality is the growing amount of chemicals in buildings, which can emanate from technology hardware, construction materials, furniture and furnishings, and cleaning products.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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March 13, 2015

New booking site ranks hotels on sustainability

A new online booking service operating out of Europe is the first to rank hotels based on green practices, and even offsets carbon emissions at no added cost.

“There are many green hotel certification labels with different focus, quality and credibility out there,” GreenHotelWorld founder Robert Boer said. “Our Green Rating algorithm helps the eco-conscious traveler to search and filter through these labels and select hotels based on their certified and verified green practices.”

Criteria that can be ranked include environmental protection, social responsibility, support for local economy and preservation of cultural heritage.

GreenHotelWorld has partnered with myclimate, a voluntary carbon offset company, to offset CO2 emissions of its users’ bookings.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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March 11, 2015

Blackrock, Unilever, PVH on sustainability from investors to boards of directors

Helle Bank Jorgensen
Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 2:00am

When the world’s largest asset manager lays out the business case for a long-term sustainable strategy, others would be wise to listen.

BlackRock, the world's biggest investor with more than $4.3 trillion in assets under management, has very strong ideas when it comes to managing risk as part of a company’s sustainability blueprint.

“When we are looking at companies, one of the things we are concerned with is: are they taking a short-term risk that may bump earnings up in the near term, but at the expense of the long-term viability of the company?" said Chad Spitler, managing director and global COO of BlackRock’s Corporate Governance & Responsible Investment Team, during a recent webinar I hosted on Corporate Sustainability and Long-Term Thinking in the Board Room.

Spitler added: "When it comes to our views on sustainability and engaging with companies, we are looking for this kind of strategic thinking at the board level.”

That logic underscores the recurring theme of integrating sustainability into core business models. From an investor’s stand point, Spitler wants to see sustainability presented within the context of a business' key value proposition.

“What we don’t want to see are sustainability reports that are separate or unrelated to business growth or risk," he said. "What we really want to see is how sustainability principles are related to risk and opportunity for each business and how is the company managing that."

When major financiers assert that the "link between the business case and sustainability is exactly what we’re looking for," as Spitler said, it becomes increasingly hard to argue against the business case for sustainability.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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March 10, 2015

Is the coffee pod craze brewing an environmental disaster?

By Vaidehi Shah / Tuesday 10 March 2015

A normal day at the office turns apocalyptic when a Godzilla-like monster made of coffee capsules invades a city, destroying property and crushing citizens underfoot. Alien spaceships bearing an uncanny resemblance to coffee pods shoot citizens and armies with capsules-turned-bullets.

These scenes from a video campaign called “Kill the K-cup” – the brand name for coffee pods made by American company Keurig – might be confined to the realm of fiction, but the waste footprint of these disposable pods is all too real.

In 2013, the number of coffee pods made by one company alone – America-based Keurig Green Mountain – was a staggering 8.3 billion, enough to wrap around the equator 10.5 times. Factor in the pods made by other companies and the number becomes mind-blowing.

The growing popularity of such pods in homes, offices, and even Michelin-starred restaurants worldwide has fuelled concerns about the amount of waste generated.

Read more at Eco-Business and Eco-Business Magazine.

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March 9, 2015

Post-it maker 3M unveils greener paper-sourcing policy

St Paul-based 3M Co, one of the world’s largest manufacturers and the maker of Post-it notes, will take new steps to ensure that its suppliers of paper, pulp and packaging provide materials that come from sustainably logged timber.

The new paper-sourcing policy, aimed at preventing the destruction of fragile forests, comes after pressure on 3M from environmental activists, who accused the company of outdated practices.

The company, which also manufacturers Scotch brand tape products, will now require some 5,000 direct suppliers, located in more than 70 countries, to provide data, including the source of their harvested wood fiber. The company says it may sever ties with suppliers that fail to meet its standards.

While other companies have also set conservation standards for their suppliers, 3M’s action is expected to have broad ripple effects, because of the size of its supply network, said Todd Paglia, executive director at ForestEthics, a forest and climate advocacy organization.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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March 6, 2015

Academics probe built-in obsolescence of fridges, notebooks

Researchers at the Öko-Institut and the University of Bonn found that consumers were replacing their fridges, flatscreen TVs and notebooks more and more frequently. But how much of that is down to "built-in obsolescence" is still unclear.

“Today, more electrical and electronic devices are being replaced even if they are still functioning,” said Rainer Griesshammer, a member of the Öko-Institut’s Executive Board.

In many cases, technological advances are the trigger, Griesshammer said. “We see this happening a lot with televisions,” he noted, pointing to consumer’s cravings for cutting-edge technology.

But he also remarked that an increasing share of white goods – fridges, washing machines and dryers – were being replaced within five years of their purchase “because of a technical defect”.

Various reasons
So do manufacturers deliberately shorten the lifespan of their products? To find out, the researchers collected statistics on various types of household goods, consumer electronics and IT products, for the period 2004-2012.

But the answer for the time being is unclear, the academics admitted.

“The shortening of appliance first-use duration has varied reasons,” said Maria Krautzberger, president of the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA), which commissioned the study.

For flatscreen TVs, more than 60% were being replaced because consumers wanted an upgrade, while a quarter (25%) of purchases were made to replace a faulty product.

Read more at EurActiv.com.

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March 5, 2015

Palm oil certification body purges membership

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has purged membership of a number of companies and organizations that have failed to comply with reporting requirements. The move could be a sign that the certification body is getting more serious about enforcing its standards, says WWF, one of the founders of the initiative.

On Thursday, the RSPO announced that 15 members had been expelled for failing to submit mandatory annual reports for three straight years. 62 others had their memberships suspended for failing to report for two consecutive years. The reports are meant to measure progress toward certifying palm oil operations or purchasing certified sustainable palm oil, according to WWF.

Most of the terminated members are small palm oil processors or traders. Three are consumer goods manufacturers in France.

The suspended members included a broader range of entities, from the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia and the Pacific, an NGO, to Seventh Generation, an American company that sells "green" products. Some of the terminated and suspended members may not be in compliance because they've ceased operations or no longer source palm oil. For example, the membership of Asian Plantation Ltd, a palm oil producer that no longer exists after it was acquired by Malaysian Felda Global Ventures last year, was on the suspended list.

Read more at MONGABAY.COM.

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March 4, 2015

The natural refrigerant set to reduce supermarket energy use

Terry Slavin
Wednesday 4 March 2015 15.28 GMT

Could the sugar you have in your morning coffee help prevent global warming?

Sainsbury’s thinks the answer is yes and is putting the question to the test in its Portishead store in Somerset, where it is using a refrigerant derived from waste sugar beet in its fridges and freezers.

Not only does the CO2-based refrigerant, called eCO2, have a global warming potential of one – 3,922 times less than R404A, the refrigerant most commonly used by supermarkets – it is also derived from a more sustainable source than other CO2-based refrigerants, which are often derived from hydrocarbons or ammonia.

Paul Crewe, head of sustainability for Sainsbury’s said he was interested in eCO2 when he found out that British Sugar, Sainsbury’s main sugar supplier, derives the CO2 for the refrigerant from waste sugar beet in its refinery in Norfolk.

“One of the things we are very keen on is real life examples of circular economy, putting every single product in our supply chain to good use. This is an opportunity for CO2 from a product that goes into Sainsbury’s [sugar] being deployed into one of our refrigerant systems to prove that it does the same job as other derived sources of CO2,” said Crewe.

New EU rules
So far 200 Sainsbury’s stores have refrigeration systems that use CO2, but it is far from alone. A survey of north European supermarkets by Carrier Commercial Refrigeration found 65% of respondents had begun to opt for non HFC refrigerants, with CO2 the choice for 83% of those who had already converted.

This has been driven, to an extent, by new EU regulations on the use hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The EU wants to cut F-gas emissions (fluorinated greenhouse gases) by two-thirds by 2030 (pdf) and the use of R404A, which is one of the worst offenders, will be banned in new commercial equipment from 2020.

Read more at The Guardian.

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February 25, 2015

How Walmart's green label aims to drive supplier 'race to the top'

Lauren Hepler
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 3:10am

What do Tide laundry detergent, a poster covered in adorable puppies wearing headphones and a baseball hat emblazoned with the cast of Duck Dynasty have in common?

One, they're all sold at Walmart. Two, the grab bag of products are all made by Walmart suppliers included in an initial batch of 150 companies that earned the right to be included in a new "sustainability leader" section of the mega-retailer's growing e-commerce operation. Those suppliers range from consumer products giants like Procter & Gamble and Unilever to smaller businesses like California-based Musco Family Olive Co.

The new online badging program, announced on Tuesday at a company Milestone Meeting held just south of San Francisco, is an outgrowth of the company's efforts to index supply chain sustainability standards across product categories. About 1,300 suppliers participated in Walmart supplier sustainability surveys last year, and about 12 percent of those companies have received the new sustainability leaders designation, Walmart Director of Product Sustainability Robert Kaplan told GreenBiz.

"What Walmart is very excited about today is using this tool to inspire a race to the top," Kaplan said. "This is about continuous improvement."

Products receiving the sustainability label aren't necessarily sustainable in and of themselves. Rather, the badges denote suppliers that are taking a broader view of sustainability by integrating organizational changes instead of product-by-product incremental improvements — a reflection of Walmart's own quest to drill down into the most meaningful information in the field.

"The Sustainability Leaders badge does not make representations about the environmental or social impact of an individual product," a Walmart document provided to GreenBiz notes, "only that the manufacturer has scored well enough to earn a badge across all of the products they make in that category."

Read more at GreenBiz.

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February 25, 2015

First International Forum on Sustainable Lifestyles Seeks to Accelerate Transition to Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns

The 1st Dubai International Forum for Sustainable Lifestyles is organized by the Zayed International Foundation for the Environment in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Technical support is provided by the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP) Secretariat. It is also supported by the European Commission through the SWITCH-Med Project. The Forum aims to identify the drivers of unsustainable consumption and lifestyles.

"Shifting to more sustainable lifestyles is not only a 'label', found in UN jargon, it is about our daily lives: the buildings we live in, the shopping we do at the mall, the food we have on our plates, the waste we generate, the clothes we wear and the light above our heads," said UNEP Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw. "Whether you work in business, in research and innovation, in educating our children or in architectural planning, it is our collective responsibility to make this issue our own."

The forum also looks to find ways around barriers to change by sharing knowledge and experiences, and showcasing initiatives across many areas-such as daily living, the built environment, mobility, consumer goods and services, food consumption, health and wellbeing.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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February 25, 2015

Six clean tech innovations you need to know about

Alice Grahame
Wednesday 25 February 2015 07.00 GMT

Businesses wanting to improve their low carbon credentials rely on highly creative people to come up with new ideas. But for those innovators wanting to share their ideas, it can be hard to get projects off the ground. It takes time and money to refine products and business plans – things startups often don’t have. So what help is there for innovators wanting to give up their day jobs and focus on their inventions?

One option is Cleantech Innnovate, a biannual event in London and Glasgow where low carbon innovators pitch for £20,000 and get to meet potential investors. Here are some of the exciting innovations that got caught the eye at the most recent event this month.

1. Steamed up
Originally designed for boats, steam infusion cooks huge quantities of food very quickly and evenly, keeping food nutritious and tasty. It works on liquid foods like sauces and soups by blasting them with steam travelling at three times the speed of sound, heating food from 20C to 80C in only a second, and can cook 1000kg of food in just 10 minutes.

Designed by British engineering company OAL Group, steam infusion has been successfully making ready meals, ketchup, béchamel sauce and minestrone soup. It has been used to feed refugees in northern Iraq and to make a new maize-based nutritional drink called Zambia.

Read more at The Guardian.

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February 19, 2015

Going Tubeless

From: Catherine Gill, Care2
Published February 19, 2015 09:09 AM

Recently one of the country’s most popular paper goods suppliers, Scott Products, did away with the cardboard inner tube inside of its toilet paper rolls and is now going tubeless. Here’s why that’s good news for the environment.

Each year over 17 billion toilet paper tubes are thrown away, and most end up in landfills. To put that in perspective, this amount of waste is enough to fill the Empire State Building…twice! And did you know that in New York City alone, 14,000 toilet paper inner tubes are thrown away every 15 minutes? In fact, just the tubes from toilet paper rolls account for millions of pounds of waste each year.

Since first putting out toilet paper in the 1980s, Scott Products has become the top supplier. Therefore, the company’s move to go tubeless carries even more environmental significance because it sets a precedent. What if every toilet paper manufacturer ditched the inner tube? Imagining the benefits of that is exciting for all of us environmental activists out there.

What if we were to expand on this strategy beyond just toilet paper? Many other products contain a wasteful component that can be eliminated in order to help save our planet. What if paper towel companies did this as well? Each year billions of paper towel tubes end up biodegrading in landfills, but they don’t need to be there.

Read more at Environmental News Network.

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February 19, 2015

EU introduces new rules to make cooking greener

The sale of energy-wasting ovens and cooking hobs will be banned across the European Union after the latest set of rules to make household appliances more efficient takes effect on Friday, (20 February).

The European Commission said on Wednesday (18 February) that getting rid of inefficient appliances would cut consumer energy bills by around 50 euros ($57) per year, while the savings from the rules across the bloc would run into billions.

The policy, known as ecodesign, is intended to reduce fuel imports and CO2 emissions.

Industry bodies representing European appliance makers, such as Bosch Siemens Haushaltsgeraete and Philips, were involved in consultations and have welcomed the new rules, which will apply to new ovens and hobs.

But critics have portrayed ecodesign as another example of Brussels bureaucracy. Last year, rules limiting the power of new vacuum cleaners were whipped up into a media frenzy dubbed Hoovergate.

Read more at EurActive.

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February 18, 2015

Apple Halts Production at 15 Facilities for Environmental Violations

Apple suspended production at 15 facilities that violated its environmental rules in 2014, according to the company’s Supplier Responsibility 2015 Progress Report.

Last year the tech giant conducted compliance audits at 633 facilities — a 40 percent increase from 2013.

Three of the sites were suspended for repeating a violation of no or inadequate environmental impact assessment approval. Once the EIR reports were complete and approved by the local environmental protection agencies, the facilities resumed production.

Another five were suspended for releasing waste air without treatment. Apple says the violating sites installed equipment to filter discharged air and put monitoring protocols in place.

And seven were suspended for directly discharging wastewater into storm pipe or sewage systems without treatment. Apple says the seven were required to implement wastewater collection and treatment systems before production resumed.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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February 17, 2015

Scientists reveal revolutionary palm oil alternative: yeast

Oliver Balch
Tuesday 17 February 2015 11.37 GMT

The ubiquity of palm oil, which appears in everything from margarine to lipstick, is now widely recognised. So too are the detrimental effects of palm oil plantations on the world’s remaining rainforests. So why do we keep using it?

The simple answer is it’s just too good at what it does. Its versatility comes down to two main stellar properties: an exceptionally high melting point and very high saturation levels. Some vegetable oils get close to one of the two, but none to both.

Now researchers at the University of Bath believe they may have hit on an alternative: yeast. A three-year research programme between the university’s biochemistry and chemical engineering faculties has successfully cultivated an oily yeast that matches palm oil’s key properties almost identically.

Early laboratory tests in a shake flask show that the yeast Metschnikowia pulcherrima – historically known for its use in South Africa’s wine industry – can produce up to 20 grams per litre of oil, giving it a similar lipid profile to palm oil. Among its other selling points, M. pulcherrima can be found pretty much anywhere, including on a huge variety of tree leaves, fruits and flowers. Initial bio-prospecting efforts have turned up strains in Vietnam, South Africa, Italy, France – and fortuitously even on the University of Bath’s own campus.

Read more at The Guardian.

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February 16, 2015

Turning our mountains of food waste into graphene

Rich McEachran
Monday 16 February 2015 10.02 GMT

Blended cocoa beans, rice, fruit skins, leeks and asparagus sounds like it should be a recipe for a disastrous smoothie. But these are just some of the wasted foodstuffs that are being treated and converted into materials, with environmental benefits.

Scientists at the City University of Hong Kong have found that they can turn coffee grounds and stale bakery goods – collected from a local Starbucks – into a sugary solution that can be used to manufacture plastic. The food waste was mixed with bacteria and fermented to produce succinic acid, a substance usually made from petrochemicals, that can be found in a range of fibres, fabrics and plastics.

Meanwhile, engineers at the Colorado School of Mines have discovered a way to turn banana peels, eggshells and rice husks into glass. By blending, drying and pounding it into a fine powder, and with a little help from the magic of science, they found the mixture could provide some of the metal oxides required in the composition of glass. Ivan Cornejo, a professor at the university, told the Denver Post at the time that such an innovation could reduce the need to mine for silica, one of glass’s primary components.

Read more at The Guardian.

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February 14, 2015

Japan, EU to harmonize vehicle safety standards

Japan, the European Union, Australia and other economies will adopt common benchmarks for automobile safety as early as the spring of next year, a move likely to free up international trade in new cars by shortening inspections.

A broad agreement covering 40 of roughly 60 points on safety inspection checklists is expected to be reached at a meeting of the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations in Geneva next month.

South Africa, Russia and Ukraine have also expressed a readiness to join the deal. The U.S. is set to remain an outlier in vehicle safety standards, while China, the world's biggest market for autos, has indicated that it will not join.

The agreement would include such criteria as seat belt strength and the stiffness of the hood, or bonnet, a factor in pedestrian safety. With common standards, cars bound for export would need only domestic safety inspections, obviating the need for another round of checks after shipment.

Read more at Nikkei Asian Review.

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February 13, 2015

Japan Has More Car Chargers Than Gas Stations

by Timothy Coulter
9:00 AM TLT
February 13, 2015

There are more electric-car charging points in Japan than there are gas stations.

That surprising discovery comes from Nissan Motor Co., which reported that the number of power points in Japan, including fast-chargers and those in homes, has surged to 40,000, surpassing the nation’s 34,000 gas stations.

The figure shows that in the relatively brief time since electric vehicles were introduced, the infrastructure to support them has become bigger than what the oil industry built over decades in the world’s third-biggest economy -- at least by this one measure.

Why that matters is obvious. Nissan’s battery-powered Leaf can travel 84 miles (135 kilometers) on a charge, and the anxiety of being stuck away from home without power has restrained consumer demand. As the charging network expands and batteries become more powerful, that concern will wane.

“An important element of the continued market growth is the development of the charging infrastructure,” Joseph G. Peter, Nissan chief financial officer, told analysts on a conference call.
As charging stations become more common, electric-car support services are also emerging.

Open Charge Map, for example, operates an online listing of public charging points worldwide. A mobile app combines the data with GPS technology to guide drivers to the nearest site.

Of course, gas stations typically have multiple pumps and can serve more vehicles in a day than an electric-car charging point.

Read more at BloombergBusiness.

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February 12, 2015

Plastic waste heading for oceans quantified

By Jonathan Amos
BBC Science Correspondent, San Jose

About eight million tonnes of plastic waste find their way into the world's oceans each year, say scientists.

The new study is said to be the best effort yet to quantify just how much of this debris is being dumped, blown or simply washed out to sea.

Eight million tonnes is like covering an area 34 times the size of New York's Manhattan Island to ankle depth.

The details were released at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Dr Jenna Jambeck, the study’s lead author from the University of Georgia, had another way to try to visualise the scale of the problem.

“The quantity entering the ocean is equal to about five plastic grocery bags full of plastic for every foot of coastline in the world,” she told BBC News.

Unseen pollution

Researchers have for some time now reported on the mass of plastic caught up in ocean currents, just going round and round.

What is slightly shocking about this new study, also published in Science Magazine, is that it helps quantify all the plastic in our oceans - not just the material seen floating on the sea surface or sitting on beaches.

The newly published estimate is 20 to 2,000 times greater than the reported mass of plastic trapped in high concentration in ocean gyres.

It is clear now that large quantities of debris must be hidden on the seafloor or have been weathered into tiny fragments that are just not apparent to casual surveys. The latter are being ingested by marine animals with unknown consequences.

Read more at BBC News Science & Environment.

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February 9, 2015

Would you buy a 'biodiversity-friendly' product?

MANILA, Philippines – Soon, consumers may find Philippine products labeled with a sticker certifying them as "biodiversity-friendly."

The government is hoping to launch a certification scheme to promote this new green label for products and enterprises in the Philippines.

A Joint Administration Order (JAO) between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, then Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Department of Tourism (DOT) is now in the works and is set for release within the year, said Joy Reyes Eugenio of the Biodiversity Partnerships Project under the DENR.

The JAO "Adopting Biodiversity-friendly Business and Enterprise Framework and Criteria" hopes to encourage entrepreneurs, indigenous peoples, local government units, people's organizations, and consumers to promote an economy that values biodiversity conservation and environmental sustainability.

A labeling or certification scheme is essential for this to happen.

"It will distinguish these products above the rest as safe for biodiversity. It's like you're putting a premium on the product. There's already a niche market for eco-friendly products," Eugenio told Rappler.

A draft of the JAO obtained by Rappler defines "biodiversity-friendly" enterprises as enterprises that "promote the sustainable use of biological resources; create wealth and value; and open opportunities for the equitable sharing of benefits among stakeholders."

Read more at RAPPLER.

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February 9, 2015

APP gets 'moderate' grade for forest conservation

By Vaidehi Shah Monday 9 February 2015

Indonesia’s Asia Pulp and Paper Group (APP) has made “moderate progress” on fulfilling its ambitious Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) announced two years ago, but the company must do more to stop deforestation in its concessions by third parties, protect peatlands, and resolve social conflicts.

These are the findings of a new audit report released on Thursday in Jakarta by international non-profit Rainforest Alliance, which was asked by APP to assess their efforts to implement its forest policy, which pledged to preserve forested areas and peatlands, respect community rights, and ensure that third-party suppliers also practice responsible forest management.

After looking at APP’s operations from February 2013 to last August, Rainforest Alliance said that APP had delivered on commitments such as stopping deforestation, peatland canal construction, and the use of natural forest pulpwood fibre.

APP had also done well in holding its existing suppliers to guidelines for responsible fibre procurement and processing, and ensuring that future suppliers would do the same.

However, there were also several areas where only limited progress had been made, the report showed.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 9, 2015

EU aids shoppers to steer clear of harmful palm oil

By Ruth Evans

New food labelling rules on giving consumers in Europe more information should help to protect the world’s tropical forests and the climate.

LONDON, 6 February, 2015 − A European Union decision to give consumers more information about the food they buy could mean good news for tropical countries whose forests are threatened by the expanding trade in palm oil.

Palm oil is found in 50% of supermarket products, such as soaps and shampoos, and in many sorts of food. But the EU requirement that food products containing the oil must now be labelled clearly should help to dispel doubts about the damage it can cause.

Producing the oil often involves felling virgin rainforest, reducing biodiversity and destroying the habitat of endangered species such as orangutans, elephants and tigers, and ruining the livelihoods of local people.

It also involves the release of large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when carbon-rich tropical forests are cleared for plantations.

Read more at Climate News Network.

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February 9, 2015

Online Toolbox for Safer Chemical Substitution

The EPA, the University of Wisconsin Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have launched an online toolbox to help companies use safer chemicals.

The OECD Substitution & Alternatives Assessment Toolbox includes resources relevant to chemical substitution and alternatives assessments. Alternative assessments are processes for identifying, comparing and selecting safer alternatives to replace hazardous chemicals with the objective of promoting sustainable production and consumption.

The Toolbox has four resource areas:

- Alternatives Assessment Tool Selector
- Alternatives Assessment Frameworks
- Case Studies and Other Resources
- Regulations and Restrictions

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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February 5, 2015

Plastic waste dominates seafloor litter in Mediterranean and Black Sea surveys

Researchers have trawled coastal areas of the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea for waste and found up to 1211 items of litter per km2. Plastic bags and bottles were some of the most commonly found items. They present the results in a recent study, which they say supports Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) implementation, as well as efforts to discourage plastic carrier bag use.

Marine litter has a range of damaging impacts. For instance, marine creatures can become entangled in floating nets or eat the litter. Floating litter can also transport non-native species into new environments and tiny plastic fragments, ‘microplastics’, have been shown to be long-term sources of pollutants, such as phthalates.

This study, conducted under the EU PERSEUS project1, assessed marine litter on the seafloor of five areas in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea — three gulfs in Greece, one gulf in Cyprus and one bay in Romania.

The researchers say this study highlights the need for action to tackle marine litter and is relevant to ‘descriptor 10’ of the MSFD. This is one of eleven qualitative criteria describing ‘good environmental status’ listed by the Directive and states that ‘Properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environment’. An important first step in satisfying this descriptor is to quantify marine litter. There is only limited information on quantities in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, however.

The study trawled the seabeds of the five areas for litter at a total of 94 sampling stations in early 2013. The researchers point out that rocky areas cannot be trawled, and that they focused on fishing grounds with sandy or muddy floors.

Read more at "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG.

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February 5, 2015

Sustainable Purchasing Guidelines Launched

The Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council today will release to the public its Guidance for Leadership in Sustainable Purchasing v1.0.

Already, 80 organizations including Ecolab, Lockheed Martin, Office Depot, the US General Services Administration and the EPA, with more than $100 billion in purchasing power, have signed up for the Pilot Program, which will run February to July 2015.

The Guidance v1.0 Pilot Program is an intensive training, collaboration and feedback period designed to engage purchasers and entities affected by the guidance — such as suppliers, standards developers, certifiers, and public interest groups — in improving the guidance.

Guidance v1.0 helps organizations optimize the environmental, social, and economic performance of their supply chain, while also promoting innovation and transparency in the broader marketplace, SPLC says.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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February 3, 2015

Bigbelly wants to be more than a smart trash company

Heather Clancy
Tuesday, February 3, 2015 - 1:00am

Solar-powered trash compactors made by Bigbelly are a familiar sight on the streets of big cities including Amsterdam, Boston, Chicago, Dublin, Hamburg, New York and Stockholm.

Indeed, the company said it ended 2014 with more than 1,500 customers on its account list — in 47 countries. That’s roughly 30,000 bins worldwide.

If you’ve never seen a Bigbelly “can,” the sleek design is pretty distinctive, with the usual signage encouraging people to place trash or recyclables inside instead of dropping them on the ground. The solar panels are embedded in the top, gathering energy even when there’s no direct sunlight. Here’s the clincher: Each unit has a capacity of up to 150 gallons. That's over four times the capacity of a traditional 35-gallon trash can. Built-in sensors detect when a container has reached capacity.

The 12-year-old company’s original sales pitch centered on helping municipalities, business districts, and university administrations reduce the number of trash pickups required on routes. That’s one reason that Waste Management jumped on board as a key distribution partner.

Looking ahead, however, Bigbelly’s aspirations rise far above smarter waste management. It is endowing its trash systems with additional sensors and wireless communications technologies that enable it to collect and communicate a variety of useful data points both about the system itself, as well as the surrounding environment, said BigBelly CEO Jack Kutner.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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January 30, 2015

Indian suppliers to MNCs like L’Oreal, Dell may lose out if they fail to address climate concerns

With climate change rising to the top of the global agenda, Indian companies supplying to multinational chains like L’Oreal, Dell, Unilever, Colgate Pamolive, Jaguar Land Rover are likely to lose out if they don’t start taking measures that address concerns about climate change, particularly the amount of carbon produced.

UK-based international organisation, CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project) states in a study released on Tuesday that many Indian companies supplying to global chains are not altering their production processes in light of climate and water risks.

Global chains are of the view that physical climate, regulatory and consumer preference changes is making it absolutely necessary to ensure that companies in its supply chains take steps to ensure their production is responsive to the growing levels of climate risk.

Suppliers from India, Brazil, and Canada, who participated in the research, reported fewer emission reduction initiatives than the global average. This despite the fact that those companies that are orienting their production processes to climate and water risks the best return on investment in terms of emissions reductions and monetary savings.

Around 130 Indian companies supplying to major global chains responded to CDP. Only 25 per cent of the Indian suppliers consider physical climate risk, such as floods, extreme rainfall, droughts, as an issue to be addressed.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 29, 2015

Global supply chain still yawns at climate risks, CDP finds

Barbara Grady
Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 3:00am

Climate change warnings keep growing more dire, and the world's business leaders now even cite water crises and extreme weather as top economic risks. And yet the supply chains leading to many of the world's biggest companies reflect only middling attention to these issues.

That's the conclusion of a new report by CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, and Accenture Strategy, which was informed by responses from 3,396 supply chain companies that sell goods or services to 66 of the world’s largest multinational corporations. Those multinationals, including companies like Microsoft, L'Oreal and Coca-Cola, are part of CDP's Supply Chain Program and procure $1.3 trillion worth of goods and services.

Most supply chain companies around the world are making “marginal or no improvements” in developing sustainable practices and climate resiliency, according to the report entitled “Supply Chain Sustainability Revealed: A Country Comparison.” Only 22 percent of supply chain companies are implementing low-carbon energy projects. About 55 percent have assessed their water risks, even though droughts and floods are increasingly common.

“What is concerning is that, despite the increase in the number of companies assessing and reporting on their emissions, the data suggests that suppliers are making either marginal or no improvements,” said Gary Hanifan, managing director of Accenture Strategy.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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January 29, 2015

What plastic can learn from steel in a circular economy

Mike Biddle
Thursday 29 January 2015 14.24 GMT

The global plastics industry generates over 280m metric tons in waste every year (pdf). The majority ends up in landfills, incinerators or as marine and land litter.

The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 32m tons of plastics waste were generated in 2012, with only about 9% recovered for recycling (collected, sorted, baled and sold). Actual recycling rates are even lower because not everything in the bales is recycled. This is especially true with mixed plastic bales, which are mostly sent to developing countries for “low-cost” recycling.

And this is not just an issue of waste or disposal. These environmental health and safety practices impact workers and local ecosystems. The by-products and waste from these processors are often disposed of in ways that would be considered illegal in the countries where the waste originated, including dumping into “self-cleaning” streams that eventually find their way into oceans.

Following in the footsteps of steel
Plastics are much more valuable by weight than steel, which has an extremely high recycling rate. Interestingly, virgin steel companies often said that steel recycling would never expand beyond “downcycling” – a method of recycling that involves breaking an item down into its component elements or materials – into applications like reinforcing bars. Today, however, the biggest steel companies in the US are based on mini-mills and recycled steel. According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), “steel produced by predominantly scrap-fed electric-arc furnaces accounted for more than 60% of the total raw steel produced in the United States in 2013.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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January 29, 2015

Almost half of EU freshwaters suffer from chemical pollution

The health of almost half of all European freshwaters is at risk from organic chemical pollution, finds new research. The study, a continental-scale risk assessment of the potential effects of toxic organic chemicals on freshwater ecosystems, based its conclusions on data for over 200 pollutants measured at 4000 monitoring sites across Europe.

Freshwater ecosystems provide a number of important ecosystem services to humans, such as clean drinking water, irrigation, food and recreation. They are also important habitats for wildlife which help to create and maintain these ecosystem services. These important environments can be damaged by organic chemical pollutants from human activities, such as pesticide use or fossil fuel use, which risks the loss of the ecosystem services and biodiversity.

This new study examined the risk posed by these chemicals to freshwater ecosystems at a continental scale. The researchers used monitoring data (collected in the European Environment Agency’s Waterbase database) from 4 000 sites spanning 91 river basins throughout Europe. These data contained information on the average and maximum annual concentrations of 223 organic chemical pollutants.

They set two ‘risk thresholds’ for three different groups of indicator species (fish, invertebrates and algae). The first was a high concentration ‘acute risk threshold’ (ART), likely to cause death, and the second was a lower concentration ‘chronic risk threshold’ (CRT), likely to cause long-term impacts, for example, decreased breeding rate or increased vulnerability to diseases.

Read more at "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG.

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January 28, 2015

Global Plastic Production Rises, Recycling Lags

Washington, D.C.—For more than 50 years, global production of plastic has continued to rise. Some 299 million tons of plastics were produced in 2013, representing a 4 percent increase over 2012. Recovery and recycling, however, remain insufficient, and millions of tons of plastics end up in landfills and oceans each year, writes Gaelle Gourmelon, Communications and Marketing Manager at the Worldwatch Institute, in the Institute’s latest Vital Signs Online article (www.worldwatch.org).

Worldwide plastic production has been growing as the durable, primarily petroleum-based material gradually replaces materials like glass and metal. Today, an average person living in Western Europe or North America consumes 100 kilograms of plastic each year, mostly in the form of packaging. Asia uses just 20 kilograms per person, but this figure is expected to grow rapidly as economies in the region expand.

According to the United Nations Environmental Program, between 22 percent and 43 percent of the plastic used worldwide is disposed of in landfills, where its resources are wasted, the material takes up valuable space, and it blights communities. Recovering plastic from the waste stream for recycling or for combustion for energy generation has the potential to minimize these problems. However, much of the plastic collected for recycling is shipped to countries with lower environmental regulation. And burning plastic for energy requires air emissions controls and produces hazardous ash, all while being relatively inefficient.

Read more at Worldwatch Institute.

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January 26, 2015

World's largest palm oil trader commits to zero deforestation

Oliver Balch
Monday 26 January 2015 07.00 GMT

Let’s start with some good news. Wilmar International, the largest palm oil trader in the world, recently committed not to engage in deforestation. A year on from announcing the policy, the Singapore-based agribusiness was lauded in a report on deforestation-free supply chains (pdf) by the pro-transparency organisation CDP.

On the face of it, the praise appears merited. Wilmar’s new policy (which also includes a ban on developing palm on peat areas) stands to save more than 1.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide by 2020 – equivalent to the combined annual energy-related carbon emissions of Central and South America.

That’s all supposing the company can deliver, of course. So can it?

On its wholly owned, directly managed palm plantations, meeting its pledge should be straightforward. The real challenge arises with the franchised or independent smallholder farmers from whom Wilmar buys around one third of its raw supply.

Often farming in remote areas and with little regulatory oversight, smallholders are far more likely to engage in “slash-and-burn” forest clearance, excessive chemical use and other environmentally unsustainable agricultural practices. “Smallholders lack capacity [and] they are people who often don’t have choice,” says Simon Siburat, Wilmar’s group sustainability controller. “And they don’t really see the need to be certified,” he says.

It’s not just a problem for Wilmar. An estimated two-fifths of the world’s palm oil derives from plantations of fewer than 50 hectares, the general marker for a smallholding. Without the engagement of these farmers, palm oil will never be able to shake off its reputation as environmentally destructive.

Read more at The Guardian.

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January 20, 2015

Tetra Pak rolls out world’s first plant-based cartons

By Medilyn Manibo
Tuesday 20 January 2015

Food packaging giant Tetra Pak announced on Wednesday that its carton package manufactured entirely from plant-based raw materials has arrived on the shelves of retail shops in Finland.

The Sweden-based firm said Finnish dairy producer Valio became the first company in the world to sell products packaged in Tetra Rex, which is made of certified paperboard cartons, bioplastic laminate films and necks and caps derived from sugarcane.

Valio is trying out the package with its Eila lactose-free semi-skimmed milk drink in retail outlets across Finland until the middle of March, and then based on feedback from consumers, the dairy firm will decide whether to adopt the cartons more broadly across its chilled product range.

Tetra Pak said the launch of the carton with all its components, including the plastic caps, made from biomass as a renewable source of raw materials instead of fossil-fuel based derivatives, signals an important milestone in the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability across its portfolio and supply chain.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 19, 2015

OECD report shows economic growth not hampered by green policies

The drive towards more sustainable, less-polluting economies does not result in lower productivity or reduced economic activity, a new study by the OECD has revealed. The study shows that while countries may initially experience a fall in economic growth as companies adapt to green regulations, what follows is generally a rebound period, with companies increasing productivity through enhancing innovation and taking advantage of new opportunities opened by the regulations.

Although more polluting companies have generally seen a downturn as a result of national efforts to combat climate change, the shortfall in production from these businesses has been picked up by companies with cleaner-business models, meaning the net effect has been minimal. The report stressed that to maintain or increase growth, green policies must be implemented in a manner that does not impede competition, or which presents an unreasonable “green administrative burden”.

Read more at ICLEI Europe.

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January 16, 2015

Dutch Rally Support for a Europe Wide Microplastic Ban

The Netherlands, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium and Sweden recently issued a joint call to ban the microplastics used in personal care products, saying the measure will protect marine ecosystems - and seafood such as mussels - from contamination.
The joint statement that was forwarded to the European Union's 28 environment ministers stated that the elimination of microplastics in products, and in particular, in cosmetics and detergents, "is of utmost priority".

Microplastics are tiny particles of plastic that have been added to possibly thousands of personal care products sold around the world. These microbeads - hardly visible to the naked eye - flow straight from the bathroom drain into the sewer system.

Not biodegradable, once microplastics enter the marine environment, they are extremely hard to remove. Scientists have recently warned that microplastics might have a harmful effect on human health via contamination of the food chain. For instance, some evidence suggests that microplastics can absorb persistent organic pollutants and facilitate their transfer within marine food webs.

Although it is evident that alternatives to microplastics are available, hundreds of tonnes of microplastics are still being released onto the EU market each year.

The Netherlands is particularly concerned that seafood - including its national production of mussels - could suffer from microplastic pollution. "Zeeuwse mosselen", or mussels from the Dutch province of Zeeland, are a very popular and typical Dutch speciality seafood dish.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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January 15, 2015

Palm oil risk to Africa as prospectors eye swaths of land

Josephine Moulds
Thursday 15 January 2015 07.00 GMT

Palm oil has long been produced in Africa on small-scale, diversified plantations. A report on palm oil, published last year by the NGO Grain, notes that tens of millions of people in Africa, most of them women, rely on this native tree for food and livelihoods. But the landscape is changing.

Booming global demand for palm oil and limited room for the industry’s expansion in Asia have led large palm oil producers to look towards Africa. Companies are also betting on an explosion in demand from the European Union for palm oil as a sustainable fuel, and Africa is the closest palm oil-producing region.

These producers are being welcomed into Africa with open arms. Governments desperate for foreign investment are scrambling to sign deals, offering companies cheap land and tax holidays in the hope of generating jobs and development.

Politicians are struggling with the supposed trade-off between growth and conservation. Liberia’s finance minister, Amara Konneh, has said the country is “worried about the ecological consequences, but we have to grow the economy. We have to create jobs for our own people. How we do it sustainably is where we are struggling.”

Swaths of land have been allocated to foreign companies for oil palm plantations. Grain lists 66 deals (pdf) covering nearly 4m hectares over the past decade and a half.

Read more at The Guardian.

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January 14, 2015

What's driving the clean vehicle revolution?

Kristin Meek
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - 2:00am

Americans are on the road to greener vehicles. Over the last five years, the number of SUV models getting at least 25 miles per gallon has doubled, while the number of car models achieving at least 40 mpg has increased sevenfold. By 2025, cars and light trucks will be almost twice as efficient as new cars are today, thanks to recent greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation.

These lower fuel costs are expected to save drivers an average $3,400 to $5,000 over the life of the vehicle, compared with 2016 cars and trucks.

A greener fleet of vehicles is also good news for the planet, as passenger cars and light trucks account for about 16.5 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Research shows that new policies can drive efficient vehicle use even further, lowering emissions and saving consumers money.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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January 12, 2015

Smart strategies to go green can improve your health

As 2015 begins, how about committing to resource-consumption choices that can reduce your impact on the environment while improving your health?

We have learned that food choices involve consideration of multiple attributes such as nutritional values, freshness, safety of storage and packaging, limits on specific ingredients which may cause sensitivity or be unhealthy, and accounting for point of origin. In the same fashion, product choices should consider multiple attributes.

Consider the life cycle of products you purchase ? what are the impacts of material extraction and manufacturing, transportation, use and disposal. Often we make purchases in a hurry and focus on the tag price without considering the costs associated with a product's use or disposal. Buying products with recycled content reduces impact of material extraction and helps build the market for recycling. Reusing products and buying durable products reduces impacts all along the life cycle, so that is an even better choice.

It is sometimes better to pay a little more for something initially, and use less of it or reuse it. Planning purchases is important so you buy what you need but not more than you need. Little decisions made every day can add up to big changes in your eco- and healthy- lifestyle.

Some choices, such as retrofitting with LED lamps or paying for regular maintenance of equipment, may seem like money you don’t want to spend at first. However, when looking at the cost over a longer term, these choices make excellent financial sense. When re-lamping, get a redesign at the same time. Your workspace may have been modified since the original design and you may need fewer fixtures when switching to LED lamps. Along with energy savings, new lighting also provides an updated look and can contribute to higher productivity.

Similarly, better-quality and more flavorful foods can satisfy in lower quantity. If the food you eat is better quality, it may be more expensive, but planning to eat less of it allows you to stay within your budget.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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January 12, 2015

Chitosan: Sustainable alternative for food packaging

A research group of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has used a material known as chitosan, made from crustacean shells, to substitute petroleum by-products.

Riverbanks and oceans are full of plastic; there are bits of this material in the organism of a large number of fish, etc. Packaging and wrappers made from petroleum by-products are seriously damaging the environment. The search for less harmful materials has driven many pieces of research; among them that of Itsaso Leceta.

This researcher has shown in her work entitled “Quality attributes of map packaged ready-to-eat baby carrots by using chitosan-based coatings,” that chitosan films are effective in preserving some of the properties of carrots as well as in preserving them longer. What is more, chitosan films are less harmful for the environment than those made of plastic in various impact categories.

Food items are covered with plastic films to make them last longer and protect them from microbes. The environment, however, is seriously affected by the use of this material. The plastic bottles and films present everywhere in our civilization take between 100 and 400 years to degrade. So the quest for alternative materials to plastics produced from petroleum is an environmental priority.

Various products and substances are used to manufacture these materials: cellulose, potatoes, etc.; and in this case, chitosan.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 9, 2015

Forget carbon offsetting, insetting is the future

Tim Smedley
Friday 9 January 2015 14.24 GMT

Planting trees for carbon offsets is little better than green-washing in many people’s eyes. But what if this sustainability cliche were turned on its head ? if trees were planted to support agroforestry within a business’s direct supply chain? Welcome to the world of insetting. Coined and promoted by sustainability standards Plan Vivo and Pur Projet, it’s a potentially powerful concept that can benefit businesses and the environment.

Offsetting may have long had a bad name (George Monbiot has strongly voiced his concerns), but it remains big business. Commodities Now reported that the globally-traded carbon market was expected to reach ?64bn in 2014. If even a small slice of that were diverted towards sustainability schemes within supply chains, it could have a big impact.

The Accor hotel group, for example, has 470,000 rooms across 92 countries, and a water and electricity footprint akin to a 1 million inhabitant city. Its sustainable development manager, Arnaud Herrmann, explains that instead of offsetting, “we wanted to support projects that made sense with our own activities. The hotel industry is very water-intensive … and food and beverage represents about 40% of Accor’s turnover. So it was natural to support local projects committed to sustainable water and agriculture.”

Teaming up with Pur Projet, Accor identified the potential to bolster community groups within its supply chain. One such project in Morocco planted olive groves and helped to set up a female-run olive oil business. “Women in the area can have trouble finding work,” says Herrmann, “so we provide the budget to plant the olive trees, the women of the region take care of the trees and transform the olives into olive oil, and part of the olive oil produced is sold back to our hotels.”

Accor now has similar projects in other countries growing rice and vegetables. It also supports more traditional tree-planting for CO2 reduction, but does so only in areas close to its hotels that its clients can see. Herrmann believes this is valuable for marketing and customer loyalty.

Read more at The Guardian.

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January 8, 2015

A new study urges leaving fossil fuels in the ground. How will it impact business?

Katharine Gammon
Thursday 8 January 2015 23.57 GMT

To prevent the Earth from overheating, countries must leave vast reserves of fossil fuels untouched underground. That’s the conclusion of a new report published this week in the journal Nature. Trillions of dollars of known and extractable coal, oil and gas ? including deposits in Canada and the Arctic ? cannot be burned if the global temperature rise is to be kept under the agreed-upon goal of 2C.

While much of the carbon math is known ? about three to five times more carbon in reserve than can be burned to stay within the world-set temperature limit ? this is the first study to look at exactly where those fossil fuels are.

Around the globe, 82% of current fossil fuels must be left underground. In the US, Australia and Russia, more than 90% of coal reserves must be unused, and in China and India, two-thirds of coal reserves are not to be burned in the scenario. The researchers question why fossil fuel companies continue to pour billions (approximately $670bn in 2013) into the search for new oil and gas when there is more underground than humans can safely use.

Read more at The Guardian.

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January 7, 2015

Procurement platform helps reduce CO2 by 65,000 tonnes

Public tenders published through the GPP 2020 project have saved the equivalent of over 65,000 tonnes of CO2 since the project began, more than the CO2 produced by 10,000 average European households each year. The project, co-funded by the Intelligent Energy Europe programme of the European Commission, is an online resource where low-carbon tenders are accessible to procurers and public authorities across a wide variety of topics, from the purchase of white goods to the leasing of green vehicles. The available tenders have also saved an impressive 15,000 tonnes of oil equivalent.

The savings are based on a comparison between emissions of previous, or standard, tenders and those of the new tenders that have been implemented by the purchasing partners of GPP 2020. To date, 15 tender models have been uploaded to the GPP 2020 website, outlining exactly how different councils across Europe have implemented low-carbon tenders. These models include procurement approaches and award criteria that can be implemented by other public authorities.

Read more at ICLEI Europe.

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January 6, 2015

Toyota Takes Fuel-Cell Cars Further, Patents Are Free

In an effort to get fuel-cell cars off the ground, Toyota is giving automakers free access to some 5680 patents, following in the footsteps of Elon Musk, who did the same last year for Tesla's electric car.

Toyota is making the patents available through 2020, "the initial market introduction period" of fuel cell vehicles. And it will soon also make patents available for hydrogen fueling stations.

"By allowing royalty-free use of FCV-related patent licenses, Toyota is going one step further as it aims to promote the widespread use of FCVs and actively contribute to the realization of a hydrogen-based society," the company says.

In December, Toyota started selling the world's first mass-produced fuel cell vehicle - the Mirai sedan - in Japan, and sales begin late this year on the east and west coast of the US, and in some European countries, like UK, Denmark and Germany. The goal is to sell more than 3,000 cars in the next two years, but it may well exceed that given the thousands of pre-orders from government agencies and fleets.

With two hydrogen tanks under the seats, Mirai has a range of 400-435 miles, and can accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in 9 seconds. A powertrain with an electric motor and fuel cell stack replaces the gasoline engine. It will retail around $45,000 after federal and state incentives in the US, and fueling is free in California.

Read more at SustainableBusiness.com.

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January 6, 2015

Researchers link air pollution to heart diseases

Responsible for 400,000 deaths each year globally, air pollution has yet to be sufficiently addressed by the world's governments, researchers have warned. EurActiv France reports.

Air pollution damages the heart. According to an expert position paper published in the European Heart Journal, many types of cardiovascular disease are linked to poor air quality.

Not only does air pollution exacerbate existing heart problems, but it also appears to play a role in the development of heart disease in otherwise healthy people, the researchers said. There is particularly strong evidence of the harmful effects of suspended particles, as opposed to gas pollution, they said.

Air pollution is made up of thousands of different particles and gasses. Among the most important pollutants, from a health point of view, are particles in suspension and gasses like ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), volatile organic compounds (like benzene), carbon monoxide (CO) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). The burning of fossil fuels releases soot particles, nitrogen oxides and sulphur directly into the atmosphere. The main sources of NO2 are road traffic, power generation, industrial processes and domestic heating.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) ranks heart disease as the world's leading cause of premature death. In Europe alone cardiovascular diseases kill 4 million citizens every year, 1.9 million of which come from the EU, according to the European Society of Cardiology.

Read more at EurActiv.

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January 6, 2015

How new technologies are helping mining companies to come clean

Oliver Balch
Tuesday 6 January 2015 17.48 GMT

The devastating effects of mine wastewater are regrettably obvious: polluted rivers and streams, dead aquatic life and countless hardships for downstream populations. Mining companies are under increasing pressure to contain, control and clear up contaminated water from their operations.

One knock-on effect is the mining industry’s emergence as “one of the most dynamic” markets for water and wastewater treatment, according to a recent report by industry analysts Frost & Sullivan. By 2016, the industry’s demand for water-treatment equipment and services is expected to be worth $3.6bn (£2.3bn).

While regulatory trends explain much of this growth, another force is also at work: the rising value of metal recovery. Historically, wastewater treatment was catergorised exclusively as a business cost, but advances in metal-removal technologies now mean there could be money to be made too. “Metal recovery is especially interesting on the precious metals side, such as gold, copper and [other] highly valuable metals,” says Fredrick Royan, global research director for environment markets at Frost & Sullivan.

Almost any marketable metal extracted from wastewater could prove profitable. And any revenue stream that helps offset the expense of mandatory wastewater merits consideration, according to Adrian Brown, a wastewater consultant and former president of the International Mine Water Association (IMWA). “[Mining firms] are pretty much stuck with treating the wastewater whether it’s economic or not,” he says. “So suddenly any metal recovery is beneficial in the sense that it has the ability to either reduce your project costs or, at the very least, to dispose of the extracted material from your project at zero or no cost.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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January 5, 2015

Sustainable mining: an inherent contradiction in terms?

Ucilia Wang
Monday 5 January 2015 19.50 GMT

Mining conjures up an ugly environmental image. Companies dig deep into the earth and use large amounts of energy and water to extract, process and transport minerals, leaving behind a devastating impact.

That image has come to define the mining industry, and it’s increasingly hurting its ability to make money. Now a new group is working to remake that reputation by changing some of the industry’s practices.

A white paper issued by the Kellogg Innovation Network at Northwestern University last month outlines key issues and ways to tackle them. The white paper is meant to serve as a framework to inspire more mining companies to develop sustainable projects that could also boost their profits.

In particular, it focuses on building good relationships with local communities most heavily impacted by mining operations. But it also pinpoints some of the significant troubles the mining industry faces as it seek to expand into more remote areas of the map.

Keeping tabs of the mining industry’s progress in adopting more sustainable approaches should be in everyone’s interest. The raw materials extracted by mining companies are powering the world’s growing population and its dependence on gadgets and other technologies. The industry supports roughly 45% of the world’s economic activities, according to the white paper. Yet it’s impossible to carry out large-scale mining without leaving social and environmental scars.

Read more at The Guardian.

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December 20, 2014

First U.S. Coal Ash Rule Disappoints Environmental Groups

WASHINGTON, DC, December 20, 2104 (ENS) ? The first national regulations to provide for the safe disposal of the ash left after burning coal to produce electricity were announced Friday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

After years of delaying action on issuing a coal ash rule, the EPA was under a court order to issue new safeguards by December 19. On that date, the final rule for coal combustion waste was issued under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

The National Resources Defense Council, NRDC, and other environmental groups had urged the agency to classify coal ash as a hazardous waste, which would have required stronger oversight, safer disposal methods and phase-out of the coal ash ponds.

Instead, the agency classified coal ash as non-hazardous, requiring fewer safeguards and protections.

Scott Slesinger, NRDC’s legislative director, said, “The EPA is bowing to coal-fired utilities’ interests and putting the public at great risk by treating toxic coal ash as simple garbage instead of the hazardous waste that it is. Too much of the agency’s new rule is left to the discretion of states, which all too often have favored powerful utility companies instead of the public.”

Environmental groups warned that every year utilities produce more than 100 million tons of coal ash laced with arsenic, lead, and other pollutants. Some 40 percent of it is safely recycled into concrete and wallboard, but every year millions of tons are dumped into poorly regulated ponds, landfills and abandoned mines.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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December 18, 2014

How technology can prevent food waste in developing countries

Katherine Earley
Thursday 18 December 2014 12.30 GMT

Up to 40% of food produced in the developing world is wasted before it reaches the market, according to figures from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). With the number of middle-class consumers predicted to rise to three billion by 2030, and the majority of that growth in developing countries, tackling this problem is no small feat ? particularly as rising affluence in urban areas is likely to trigger a higher demand for richer diets and more complex food supply chains.

Lack of access to cold chain technology and reliable energy sources are the major reasons for crops perishing after harvest, research by Nottingham University shows (pdf). The cost of delivering energy to remote, rural regions means that, even when storage facilities are built, they may nevertheless stand empty. Poor transport infrastructure causes further losses, and a lack of education on post-harvest practices often results in poor quality control and food being damaged during handling.

“Without the technology, expertise and understanding necessary to keep their harvest fresh, smallholder farmers are often locked into a cycle of poverty, unable to access global markets,” says Dr Lisa Kitinoja, founder of the Postharvest Education Foundation.

India suffers losses of up to £4.4bn in fruit and vegetables each year due to the absence of effective technologies to keep produce cool. Despite being the world’s largest banana producer, it holds just 0.3% of the global banana market. Production is fragmented compared to the large-scale commercial farms of its competitors, with smallholder farmers typically cultivating small plots with little business or technical support. Less than 4% of India’s fresh produce is transported by cold chain, compared to more than 90% in the UK.

Better cold storage, education about food handling and improved infrastructure could help to transform this situation, according a study by Maersk (pdf) ? potentially growing the trade of banana containers from 3,000 to 190,000 annually, and benefitting more than 34,000 smallholder farmers across India.

Read more at The Guardian.

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December 18, 2014

EPA’s Smog Standards Hit the Mark; Here’s Why

The EPA recently released much-awaited, tighter standards for smog pollution, common-sense protections that will save lives and safeguard human health from one of the nation’s most ubiquitous air pollutants ? ozone.

As expected, it took but a few hours before critics lashed out, while ignoring key facts behind EPA’s proposal. Here are five reasons I believe EPA is on the right track:

1. The current standard doesn’t do enough to protect human health

About half our population, some 156 million Americans, are at risk from smog, or ground-level ozone, because of age, health conditions, or the work that they do. They include more than 25 million people with asthma, 74 million children, 40 million senior citizens, and nearly 17 million outdoor workers.

Our current standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) doesn’t adequately protect human health.

EPA’s new proposal, issued under a court-ordered deadline, is a step in the right direction ? even if it doesn’t, in our view, go far enough.

Consider this: The proposed 65 to 70 ppb limit would prevent between 320,000 and 960,000 asthma attacks in children and up to 1 million lost school days. It would also prevent up to 180,000 lost work days and an estimated 750 to 4,300 premature deaths.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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December 17, 2014

Scientists propose tax incentives for waste paper collection

Instead of wasting a lot of money burying or burning scrap paper, with the resulting environmental pollution, scientists say it would be better to spend funds on encouraging companies to collect and re-use scrap paper.

The Saigon Paper Corporation uses a high percentage of scrap paper in making finished products.

Cao Tien Vi, general director of the company, in September 2014, said the company decided to raise consumption paper capacity by threefold to 44,000 tons per annum, and raise industrial paper production capacity from 53,000 tons to 224,000 tons.

In order to get enough materials to fulfill the production plans, his company would have to increase the the proportion of scrap paper imports from 30 per cent to 50 per cent.

When asked why the company does not plan to use domestic scrap paper instead of imports, Vi said it was difficult to collect scrap paper from domestic sources, since collectors are not encouraged to do this.

If the company collects paper, the cost would be high because scrap paper comes from many different sources, while it would also have to pay for scrap paper classification as well. Besides, the fact that it cannot get a VAT refund when buying scrap paper from individuals would also push up production costs.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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December 9, 2014

Global Environment Fund wants to coordinate green supply chains

The Global Environment Facility, which has provided $13.5 billion in grants to developing nations since 1991, wants a wider role in protecting nature by tightening commodity supply chains from farmers to consumers.

Naoko Ishii, chief executive officer of the 183-nation GEF, told Reuters that efforts to safeguard tropical forests from land clearance to make way, for instance, for palm oil plantations were hampered by a lack of oversight.

In that example, reducing forest clearances would have to involve banks to prevent lending to loggers on protected land, as well as small farm owners, governments and big companies such as Nestle SA or Unilever.

“What is missing is maybe somebody that brings every stakeholder together” to tighten loopholes in supply chains, she said during United Nations talks in Lima on a deal to combat global warming.

The GEF, set up in 1991 as a World Bank pilot programme, would be willing to help take on a wider coordinating role, she said.

She said she recently flew over Indonesia and witnessed deforestation to clear land for palm oil plantations or fast-growing trees to produce pulp. “It is devastating to see,” she said.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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December 8, 2014

EPA Announces New Energy Star Tool for Homeowners to Save Money, Energy This Winter

WASHINGTON ? Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching its Energy Star Home Advisor, an online tool designed to help Americans save money and energy by improving the energy efficiency of their homes through recommended, customized and prioritized home-improvement projects.

“As we enter the winter months, homeowners can use our new Energy Star Home Advisor to increase energy efficiency and save money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “When homeowners take advantage of this important tool and increase the energy efficiency of their homes, many families will notice savings on energy bills and improvements in the comfort of their homes.”

The updated Energy Star Home Advisor guides the homeowner through a “do-it-yourself” energy assessment to create an Energy Star home profile. Based on the newly created profile, the Home Advisor provides customized, prioritized recommendations for improvements. From these recommendations, users can create their own to-do lists of projects such as adding insulation to the attic or replacing an HVAC air filter.

Over time, users can update their home profiles as they make improvements, see the positive environmental impacts of the changes they’ve made, get additional recommendations, and update their “to-do” lists for future projects. The home profiles can also be printed and used at the time of sale.

The announcement is part of EPA’s Energy Efficiency Action Week, during which EPA regional offices across the country will hold events to increase awareness about the energy and cost savings associated with energy efficiency upgrades, especially in the winter months.

Read more at EPA website.

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December 7, 2014

Apple Campus 2: the greenest building on the planet?

Apple claims its new California campus is the ‘greenest building on the planet’, but the performance data doesn’t stack up

Garrett Hering
Sunday 7 December 2014 12.00 GMT

Jerry Yudelson, president of the Portland, Oregon-based Green Building Initiative, likens sustainable architecture to sex.

“It’s all about performance, not promise. Show me your numbers,” Yudelson says.

A few years ago, Yudelson, together with German architecture critic and professor Ulf Meyer, asked hundreds of owners of the highest-rated new green buildings around the globe to reveal their actual performance data. Their request included details on measured energy and water use, which they would compare with other buildings.

Perhaps embarrassed that performance might not live up to promises, a lot of building owners propositioned by Yudelson and Meyer demured. But some did not. The results are presented in their book The World’s Greenest Buildings, published in 2013.

“We wanted to show that high levels of energy and water efficiency and high levels of aesthetics are not incompatible. Sort of like a beauty queen who can do higher math,” says Yudelson.

Read more at The Guardian.

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December 5, 2014

How to address wage issues in garment industry: boycott, pressurise or invest?

How the garment industry and consumers can bring about a change in the sweatshop conditions endured by workers in developing countries

Harriet Swain
Friday 5 December 2014 11.53 GMT

The collapse last year (2013) of the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh, killing more than 1,130 garment workers, shocked the world. While campaigners had warned for years about the poor conditions endured by many of those making the cheap clothes worn and regularly discarded by western shoppers, the tragedy meant that the workers’ plight could no longer be ignored. It also helped to highlight just how little they were paid for their work ? often less than £30 a month.

How to address some of these issues and achieve a fair wage in the fashion industry was the subject of a recent seminar held by the Guardian, in association with the fashion retailer H&M.

The seminar, chaired by Jo Confino, an executive editor at the Guardian, involved a panel of experts:

- Helena Helmersson, head of sustainability for H&M
- Jenny Holdcroft, policy director of IndustriALL Global Union, which represents 50 million workers across the world
- Ilona Kelly, campaign director at Labour Behind the Label, which campaigns to improve conditions and empower workers in the global garment industry
- Lucy Siegle, the Observer’s ethical living columnist
- Manuela Tomei, officer in charge at the International Labour Organization (ILO)

It was attended by an invited audience of sustainability experts, NGO employees and specialist fashion journalists.

Read more at The Guardian.

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December 4, 2014

Producing environmentally friendly biodegradable plastics from vegetable waste

Using vegetable waste to produce bioplastics can provide sustainable alternatives to non-biodegradable plastic, new research has found. The biodegradable plastic developed for this study, produced using parsley and spinach stems, cocoa pod husks and rice hulls, have a range of mechanical properties comparable to conventional plastics which are used for products from carrier bags to kitchenware and computer components.

Global plastic production has risen from 1.5 million tonnes per year in the 1950s to 288 million tonnes a year in 2012. This staggering increase has been driven by the low cost and remarkable range of mechanical properties that plastics can provide. However, while plastic goods bring numerous advantages, the waste they generate can be devastating to ecosystems.

All five major oceanic gyres now contain substantial amounts of plastic waste, which can injure or kill marine wildlife and spread invasive species. Furthermore, plastic does not biodegrade but remains in the environment for hundreds of years. Sunlight may break it down into smaller pieces but these fragments can have, if anything, even greater impacts.

Read more at Science for Environment Policy of European Commission.

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December 4, 2014

Tackling the challenge: How to make informed choices on forest products?

Sustainably sourced forest products are critical in eliminating deforestation from global supply chains, increasing transparency in the market place and incentivizing sustainable forest management. Together with the World Resources Institute, the WBCSD Forest Solutions Group refreshed some key sections of the Sustainable Procurement Guide for wood- and paper-based products. This year’s revisions focused predominantly on the chapters about the use of fresh & recycled fiber, protection of unique forest values and climate, with emphasis on REDD+, forest carbon accounting systems and markets.

The guide is a toolbox designed to help corporate managers make informed choices, understand the challenges and find the best advice on how to purchase forest-based products from sustainable sources - be it paper or packaging, wood for construction, or furniture.

Within the context of the growing determination to eliminate deforestation from supply chains, this guide constitutes a helpful resource kit for companies to establish a clear procurement policy and implement concrete measures.

Read more at The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

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December 3, 2014

Why impact assessments are good for non-profits but bad for business

In the hands of corporations aiming to profitably serve the poorest consumers impact assessments can impede progress

Erik Simanis
Wednesday 3 December 2014 17.00 GMT

Impact assessments are a powerful ? and necessary ? part of a non-profit’s tool kit. Rigorously measuring how and how much a program solves a social ill and betters the lives of the poor ensures continual improvement. Impact assessments also serve as a report card back to the funders of non-profits. They assure donors that grant funds are being maximised and used for the purpose intended.

Yet in the hands of corporations aiming to profitably serve the world’s poorest consumers ? the so-called base of the pyramid (BoP) ? impact assessments can impede progress more than enable it. While jumping onto today’s impact assessment bandwagon may feel like the right thing to do, companies can unwittingly jeopardise a business venture and reduce consumer value by doing so.

Insisting that BoP ventures focus on broad social impacts sets projects up to be viewed internally as corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs rather than business opportunities. When that happens, attracting resources and securing the support of country managers ? the people responsible for commercial activity in a territory ? will be an arduous uphill battle.

Read more at The Guardian.

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November 25, 2014

How 3D printing is set to shake up manufacturing supply chains

3D printing has come a long way in an extremely short span of time. Initially built by Charles Hull in the 1980s as a tool for making basic polymer objects, today, the technology has spurred remarkable efforts in several manufacturing sectors; from building intricate aircraft and race car components, to human organs and prostheses.

Now, the wider business world is beginning to understand the potential of 3D printing for cost-effective, efficient and environmentally-friendly manufacturing. It is little wonder that analyst firm, Canalys see the global market for 3D printers reaching $16.2bn (£10.3bn) by 2018. With increasing adoption, the technology will revolutionise manufacturing as well as the supply chain and logistics processes which surround it.

Though manufacturing in certain locations can be low-cost, managing a global logistics network isn’t; especially given the transportation costs involved. 3D printing can reduce these costs by enabling businesses to station local manufacturing centres closer to strategic markets, reducing the length of the supply chain and helping towards a reduced carbon footprint.

Regional manufacturing centres can also tackle inventory concerns, especially for the industrial spare parts and consumer sectors selling highly-customised products. 3D printing technology will enable manufacturers to easily produce goods to order, helping save money and minimise waste.

Read more at The Guardian.

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November 19, 2014

New ZSL toolkit boosts transparency for palm oil

The global palm oil industry is set for a shake-up with the launch of a ground-breaking new tool by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) that will significantly raise the level of transparency in the sector.

The international conservation group recently announced a free online resource called the Sustainable Palm Oil Transparency Toolkit, or SPOTT, which is designed to allow investors and stakeholders in the industry to assess and monitor oil palm growers on the sustainability of their operations.

In an industry first, SPOTT combines satellite mapping technology with in-depth performance assessments on 25 of the largest publicly listed companies that grow oil palm all in one platform.

The global palm oil industry in recent years has come under heavy scrutiny after oil palm plantations were linked to illegal land clearing, habitat destruction, conflicts with indigenous communities, and forest fires which caused the worst haze crisis in Southeast Asia last June.

Some environmental groups have launched public campaigns against major palm oil firms to pressure them into addressing the sustainability of their operations. Greenpeace noted that from 2009 to 2011 alone, around 300,000 hectares of the 1,240,000 hectares of forest lost in Indonesia was due to palm oil concessions.

ZSL, which has been working with oil palm growers since 2001, said that following the launch of SPOTT, it will continue to work with organisations such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to engage companies and rebuild trust in the industry.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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November 17, 2014

Tiny Batteries Could Revolutionize Green Energy--Nanotechnology could dramatically improve energy storage for electronics, cars, and buildings.

By Wendy Koch
National Geographic
PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 17, 2014

Tiny is big in the quest to build batteries that store more energy for cars, buildings, and personal electronics.

Nanosize batteries that are 80,000 times thinner than a human hair represent a promising new front. They could advance the use of electric vehicles, now limited by short driving ranges, and of renewable energy, which needs storage for times when the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine.

The latest breakthrough: a "nanopore" that's the ultimate in miniaturization. It's a hole in a ceramic sheet, no thicker than a grain of salt, that contains all the components a battery needs to produce electric current. One billion of these holes, connected in a honeycomb fashion, could fit on a postage stamp.

The itty-bitty battery delivers. It fully charges in 12 minutes and recharges thousands of times, according to University of Maryland researchers, who published their findings last week in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Nanotechnology.

"We were blown away by the performance," says co-author Eleanor Gillette, a doctoral candidate in chemistry. She attributes its quick charging to the short distances needed to carry the electric current. She says the nanosizing could enable manufacturers to squeeze many batteries into a tight space.

"It looks like a major advance," says George Crabtree, director of Argonne National Laboratory's Joint Center for Energy Storage Research. He says nanopores offer multiple advantages. Because they're identical, researchers-once they identify the optimal size-will be guaranteed consistent results that will make grid-scale use more promising, he says.

Read more at National Geographic.

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November 17, 2014

Staples, TerraCycle Launch Zero-Waste Recycling System

Staples along with global recycling company TerraCycle is now offering Canada’s first-ever zero-waste recycling option for all household and office waste.

Through the system, Canadians coast-to-coast can recycle almost anything ? broken pen holders, empty lipstick tubes, old filing accessories, rusty lawn and garden equipment, party decorations, old lightbulbs, used coffee capsules and more ? through TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Boxes, sold online.

How it works: Zero Waste Boxes are labeled either by stream (ex: batteries, light bulbs) or by room (ex: break room waste, bathroom waste). Consumers collect their waste according to the description and mail it to TerraCycle with the prepaid shipping label, already printed on each box.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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November 13, 2014

How Better Glass Can Save Hundreds of Millions of Birds a Year

We can prevent birds from flying into windows with current technologies?experts say we just need the will.
We may be embarrassed to admit it, but we've all done it: run headlong into a window or sliding glass door that we just didn't see.

People usually escape with only a bruised ego. But when birds smack into windows, the results can be deadly.

In fact, as many as 600 million birds die in window collisions in the U.S. and Canada every year, scientists estimate. We may hear only the occasional thump as a sparrow or robin crashes into our home or office window, but they add up.

These collisions kill more birds than oil spills or pesticides do, says Daniel Klem Jr., an ornithologist at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The spring and fall migration periods are particularly deadly, with large flocks of birds navigating cities and suburbs that are littered with windows.

Klem has been working on the problem since the 1970s, but he's in rare company. Lack of funding and a limited understanding of how birds see are the main reasons why scientists, politicians, and the public seem to be playing catch-up.

But now solutions are starting to pop up on the market, including new kinds of glass with patterns that birds can see and avoid. (And no, those hawk decals don't work.)

If the glass industry can come out with products that satisfy researchers as to their bird-friendliness?as well as consumers looking to preserve their views?then these fledgling efforts have a real chance of saving millions of birds a year. (See "New Report Highlights Dire Situation of Many U.S. Birds.")

Read more at National Geographic.

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November 13, 2014

Two thirds of world's largest companies exposed to serious water risks

São Paulo is the wealthiest state in Brazil. It is the pulsating heartbeat of the Brazilian economy. The state’s capital of the same name is a major driver of commercial activity. A megacity and home to 20 million people, it was at one point the largest industrial city in the southern hemisphere. How then, can such an important metropolis find itself on the verge of running out of water?

Brazil has experienced its driest period since records began, the worst drought in 80 years. São Paulo city’s population has also set records: for the 20 years from 1950, it was among the fastest growing. Today it’s still increasing. The resultant demand for water and the dependency and pressure on the Cantareira reservoir - the system that serves the city - has contributed to an official crisis. The huge basin is nearly dry, having dropped to below 10% of its capacity and São Paolo finds itself locked in difficult negotiations with neighbouring states that also rely on the Cantareira.

More established economies too are becoming acutely aware of the wide-ranging impacts that worsening water security can bring. Travel up from Latin America to California and you witness a severe drought now in its third year. It has cost billions of dollars, wrought havoc with the agriculture industry and caused discomfort for residents.

There are health implications too, some of which go further than the basic need of water for sanitation. California has spent decades working to create cleaner air but its progress is hindered by the heat and extreme drought, which have worsened smog levels.

Read more at The Guardian.

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November 10, 2014

World's most sustainable innovation in 2014: Pedal-powered recycling

Clearing up waste piling up in the streets using a zero-emissions vehicle, encouraging recycling, and providing jobs to low income communities are just some features of Nigerian initiative Wecyclers, which was crowned the top winner at this year’s Sustainia Award.

The innovative enterprise received the ‘Best Sustainability Solution’ award at the Sustainia Award ceremony in Copenhagen last October 30.

The international award, which honours sustainability solutions that have significant potential to help build a more sustainable future, was initiated by Denmark-based sustainable innovations think tank Sustainia in 2012.

Wecyclers showcases an innovative, but very simple urban waste management system that is scalable and can be easily replicated especially in densely-populated cities around the world.

It deploys a fleet of cargo bicycles to collect recyclable waste such as plastic bottles, plastic sachets and aluminum cans in low-income communities in Nigeria’s capital, Lagos.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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November 10, 2014

Product Sustainability Jumps to the Next Level

Lifecycle analysis (LCA) has become a best practice tool that many companies use to analyze and improve the environmental performance of their products. It enables them to work out what the biggest impacts of a product are and where they occur in the process of creating and consuming it. A company can then focus on reducing those impacts and measure progress towards its goal.

But sustainability metrics are evolving. A recent poll of more than 100 environmental managers, product designers and LCA practitioners conducted by Trucost reveals the limitations of LCA. Measuring impacts in physical terms such as tonnes of greenhouse gases or cubic meters of water used is becoming a first step towards creating more insightful and user-friendly metrics. Converting physical data to monetary values using natural capital valuation takes LCA to a whole new level. The implications for product design were discussed at a recent Trucost webinar.

Natural capital refers to the goods and services provided by nature, such as forests which give us timber and which also clean the air and regulate water flows. In the past, business and society has taken these resources for granted ? and to a great extent still does. But increasingly, companies are having to pay for these costs as a result of environmental regulation. Applying natural capital valuation to products can help companies design lower impact, more sustainable products and avoid these costs.

The poll showed that one limitation with LCA is that the results are very technical, and only really understandable by LCA specialists and experts in the sustainability team. Just 13% of respondents said that the results make sense to a mainstream business audience (see figure 1). Converting LCA data into monetary values overcomes this issue by presenting the data in a way that is accessible to everyone.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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November 5, 2014

Why metals should be recycled, not mined

There is no denying that the sustainability impacts of the extractive sector are serious ? sometimes even tragic and catastrophic. But they are not without solutions. Technology, which is the source of so much destruction in the mining and metals industry, can also be its saviour.

The most obvious opportunity for the sector is to embrace the circular economy. Many metals can be recycled ? and in some cases, actual recycling rates are already high. For example, 67% of scrap steel, more than 60% of aluminium and 35% of copper (45-50% in the EU) (pdf) is already recycled. Apart from resource savings, there is often also a net energy benefit. Energy accounts for 30% of primary aluminium production costs, but recycling of aluminium scrap uses only 5% of the energy of primary production (pdf).

Recyclability of metals is as important as recycling rates. We need more companies that grow the markets for recycled materials, like Novelis, which announced the commercial availability of the industry’s first independently certified, high-recycled content aluminium (90% minimum) designed specifically for the beverage can market.

The opportunity to increase recycling rates is significant. Today, less than one third of 60 metals analysed have an end-of-life recycling rate above 50% and 34 elements are below 1% (pdf). The irony is that recycling is often far more efficient than mining. For example, a post-consumer automotive catalyst has a concentration of platinum group metals (like platinum, palladium and rhodium) more than 100 times higher than in natural ores. Already, special refining plants are achieving recovery rates of more than 90% from this ‘waste’ (pdf).

This sustainability business case logic has not gone unnoticed. Given the importance of rare earth metals in electronics and renewable technologies, Japan has set aside \42bn (。31m) for the development of rare earth recycling, while Veolia Environmental Services says it plans to extract precious metals such as palladium from road dust in London.

Read more at The Guardian.

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November 3, 2014

Timberland retreads old tires as new shoes

Timberland announced a partnership with tire manufacturer and distributor Omni United on Monday to create the first line of tires ever purposely designed to be recycled into footwear outsoles at the end of their lifecycle.

The new Timberland Tires will be made in the U.S. and feature a rubber formulation appropriate for the recycling of the tires at the end of their useful life into shoes, rather than being used for tire-derived fuel or ending up in landfills. By designing the tires for a second life from the outset, Timberland and Omni United are taking taking recycling up a notch?to upcycling.

The companies say they first conceived this collaboration three years ago, when sustainability leaders from both brands came together to address a longstanding shared concern; the tire and footwear industries are two of the largest users of virgin rubber. The majority of tires on the market today have a limited life span; ecologically-sound disposal at the end of that life span presents yet another challenge.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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October 28, 2014

New tool aims to help companies measure social impact of products

Jacobine Das Gupta and Charles Duclaux
Tuesday 28 October 2014 14.13 GMT

Consumers are acutely aware of the provenance of the goods they purchase. They have greater access to product information than ever before, and are empowered to make more responsible purchase decisions.

Increasingly, businesses find that consumers favour products with ethical or environmental attributes and there is now evidence that a majority are also willing to pay more for them. A study by marketing research group Nielsen found that 55% of online consumers across 60 countries would pay a premium for ‘green’ or socially responsible goods.

Clearly therefore, there is now an opportunity for businesses to develop products and services that have demonstrable ecological or social benefits.

As consumers, we are accustomed to seeing ‘eco-labels’ on products and services. These are typically based on life cycle assessments (LCAs) that quantify the environmental impact of a product. These LCAs are being used to address issues such as climate change or water usage, and are based on a scientific approach, calculation models, and defined measurement units.

In contrast to the range of methodologies used to assess a product’s environmental impact, there is still a scarcity of tools and metrics to estimate the social impact of these products. A cross-industry social impact assessment method for products has not existed, even though many companies have implemented important social initiatives across their supply chains and operations.

Read more at The Guardian.

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October 21, 2014

Waste-free, Willy Wonka packaging is coming but are consumers ready for it?

If Willy Wonka did packaging, it’d probably look something like the WikiPearl ? a soft, durable and water-resistant edible membrane, made from natural food particles, designed to protect a bite-size portion of food that it’s encasing. Created by David Edwards, a Harvard professor and biomedical engineer, the intention of the WikiPearl (formerly WikiCell) is to kill the packaging and make its relationship with food symbiotic.

“It’s important we don’t only look at this as a way to reduce plastics in packaging, but also in the context of how nature creates its own biodegradable packaging, like the skins of fruits,” says Eric Freedman of WikiFoods. The company, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has collaborated with the organic dairy business Stonyfield to apply the WikiPearl technology to yogurt. The Frozen Yogurt Pearls (think, small scoops of ice cream) come in coconut, peach and strawberry flavoured skins and are being sold at selected Whole Foods stores in the US.

According to the government’s waste advisor Wrap, households in the UK threw out 4.2m tonnes of food and drink waste in 2012. Rethinking packaging is a popular topic of conversation for sustainability wonks and designers. Recently, the Swedish duo Tomorrow Machine showcased a series of utopian packaging that included a container that dissolves with its contents. They have previously designed a wrapper that transforms into a bowl when water is poured on it. Tomorrow Machine’s founders admit that it will be a several years before such concepts are adopted commercially, so while we wait to be able to wash our packaging down the sink with plate scrapings, we’re encouraged to masticate as well as reduce, reuse, recycle.

Read more at The Guardian.

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October 16, 2014

Eco-design should consider how users maintain non-electrical products

The lifetime environmental impacts of non-electrical consumer products, such as clothes, could be cut by over 40% if consumers maintained them in a more environmentally friendly manner, new research suggests. The study found the impacts of eco-designed products fell significantly when user guidelines were included in the eco-design.

‘Eco-design’ is an approach that considers the environmental impacts of a product during its entire life-cycle, from the choice of materials and manufacturing method, through to its eventual means of disposal or reuse. It aims to produce the most sustainable products and manufacturing processes with the lowest environmental impact. This study believes that communicating maintenance procedures to consumers should form part of the eco-design process.

EU directive 2009/125/EC defines the eco-design of energy-related products (ErPs), such as
televisions and light bulbs. It is often assumed that non-ErPs, such as cutlery or clothes, do not use much energy during their usage. However, ErPs are often used to maintain (e.g. wash) non-ErPs. As such, maintaining non-ErPs has important environmental impacts which depend on user behaviours. This study assessed how eco-design could improve the environmental impact of two common non-ErPs: a kitchen knife and a women’s jacket.

Read more at Science for Environment Policy, European Commission.

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October 14, 2014

Manufacturers Begin Process to Overturn California’s Plastic Bag Ban

Plastic bag manufacturers can now begin collecting signatures for a vote to overturn California’s ban on single-use plastic shopping bags, the Associated Press reports.

Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the statewide law ? the first in the US ? that institutes a plastic bag ban beginning in 2015 for grocery store carry-out bags and creates a mandatory minimum 10-cent fee for recycled paper, reusable plastic and compostable bags.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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October 13, 2014

Why Procter & Gamble is resetting its sustainability goals

By Joel Makower
Published October 13, 2014

Today, Procter & Gamble is updating its sustainability commitments, expanding some of its efforts and dialing back on another. Behind that announcement is a larger story about how the world’s largest consumer packaged goods story is viewing sustainability these days.

Setting sustainability goals for a multinational company can be tricky stuff. How high can you set the bar and still set yourself up for success? And what if you reach your goal ahead of schedule ? do you raise the bar? What if you’re not making the progress you hoped ? do you lower the bar? Four years ago, P&G set a series of 10-year goals. As it nears the halfway point, it’s a good time to reassess.

As part of its assessment, P&G is adding four new 2020 goals, aimed at expanding its efforts in water conservation and improving the environmental sustainability of its packaging. It is also revising an existing goal to drive more innovation on renewable materials.

Read more at GreenBiz.com.

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October 9, 2014

Vietnam seeks solutions to polluting paper factories

More than 90 per cent of paper factories in Vietnam operate with substandard waste water treatment systems or have no such system, creating pollution in localities where they are located.

Paper production, which requires 200-500 cubic meters of clean water to make one tonne of paper, is a huge consumer of water and is one of the biggest environmental polluting industries.

However, the majority of paper factories do not have waste water treatment systems which can meet standards, because they don’t want to spend money on waste water treatment work.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) said it would apply more drastic measures to stop the use of outdated equipment that causes pollution. It will also require companies to install waste water treatment systems.

An official of the ministry said a new circular stipulating the standard energy consumption levels for some key industries, including paper and pulp production, will be released in 2015.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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October 7, 2014

Plastics recycling and cutting through the “green smoke”

Willow Aliento | 7 October 2014

There’s an elephant in the room of the waste-to-energy industry: the majority of megawatts generated still come from burning fossil fuels, in the form of plastics, according to director and co-founder of Plastic Forests, David Hodge, who will be a panellist at the Australian Waste and Recycling Expo this week in Sydney.

Mr Hodge’s company aims to reclaim a significant part of those resources through a world-first process for upcycling plastic film, including plastic shopping bags and packaging films, into a range of useful products including electrical cable covers, root guards for trees and garden edging.

The company began as a project within Global Renewables in Sydney, one of only two Australian firms taking “red bin” general household waste ? including organics for compost, batteries, aluminium and plastics ? and processing it into a number of streams of recyclables.

Mr Hodge said the company found that out of the 250,000 tonnes a year of waste it was processing from three Sydney council areas, about 10 per cent comprised plastic films. A lengthy research and development process was carried out, resulting in the creation of a new independent company with a facility based in regional Victoria.

The new company produces upcycled plastic products under the Green Mongrel brand as well as pelletised plastic for other manufacturers.

Read more at The Fifth Estate.

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October 7, 2014

Nobel Prize Goes to Inventors of LED Lights

This year's Nobel Prize for Physics goes to three scientists for their work on the LED light bulb, "an invention of greatest benefit to mankind."

In the early 1990s, they overcame decades of unsuccessful efforts to produce bright blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs), paving the way for a fundamental transformation of lighting technology.

"Their inventions are revolutionary. While incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century, the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps," says the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the Nobel Prize.

Read more at Sustainable Business.com.

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October 2, 2014

California Says Goodbye to Plastic Bags

SACRAMENTO, California, October 2, 2014 (ENS) ? California Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic shopping bags.

Hawaii has had a de facto statewide ban for nearly two years, but because each of the four major islands is a county, the bag bans were approved county by county.

Senate Bill 270 will phase out single-use plastic bags across the entire state of California.

The measure takes effect on January 1, 2015 in grocery stores and pharmacies. Beginning July 1, 2016, convenience stores and liquor stores will no longer be able to hand out single-use plastic bags.

Plastic bags cause litter, slow sorting and jam machinery at recycling centers. They kill birds, turtles and marine mammals that become entangled or mistake the bags for food. Plastic composes 90 percent of all floating debris worldwide.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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September 30, 2014

Innovations in mobile phone recycling: biomining to dissolving circuit boards

More than 1.8bn mobile phones were bought in 2013, but within just a few years, 44% of them could end up “hibernating” in drawers according to research from Hywel Jones, a materials scientist at Sheffield Hallam University. He estimates that the same share will be resold and passed on, 4% will end up in landfills and only 3% will be recycled.

The recycling challenge
Jones unsurprisingly sees major environmental and resource implications in the lack of phone recycling. Each phone contains about 300mg of silver and 30mg of gold. Between now and the end of 2020, 10m tonnes of electronic products will be purchased in the UK. This will include silver, gold and platinum group metals with an estimated total market value of £1.5bn.

Of the 20 different materials in a phone, only a small fraction are ever recuperated, even in the most sophisticated electronics recycling plants such as the huge smelting and electrolysis facility run by metals firm Umicore in Antwerp. In developing countries, where manual disassembly of electronics often takes place, the recovery rate is far lower and comes with the added risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals.

In a bid to head off this growing problem, private technology firms are developing systems to make phone recycling easier, cheaper and less hazardous. Academics meanwhile are hoping that designs for extending the useful life of phones (such as modular phones featuring replaceable components and “skins” that look better with age) can prevent them from being left in drawers in the first place.

Read more at The Guardian.

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September 26, 2014

DuPont Printing Technology Halves Emissions

DuPont Packaging Graphics’ installation of two thermal processing systems at Wisconsin-based Bemis Graphics has helped cut the facility’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent.

DuPont’s Cyrel Fast 3000TD offers a 53 percent savings in greenhouse gas generation and a 63 percent reduction in non-renewable energy consumption compared to solvent processing, based on a life cycle assessment by DuPont.

The Cyrel Fast is a plate making system that uses dry, thermal technology to process high quality photopolymer plates, which eliminates all solvents and aqueous solutions from the plate room.

Bemis Graphics had previously used a solvent-based plate making system. As that system neared the end of its useful life, the company was also approaching the emission limits established by the state environmental regulatory agency. Since the move to the DuPont system, solvent emissions are no longer a concern.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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September 18, 2014

E-waste recycling goes big in Singapore

Joint initiative by telecommunications company StarHub, e-waste recycler TES-AMM and courier firm DHL will allow consumers to dispose unwanted cellphones, laptops and other electronics in 100 bins islandwide by end of the year.

Recycling old cell phones, laptops, and other electronic waste (e-waste) in Singapore will now be easier, thanks to a new programme by global courier company DHL Express, telecommunications provider StarHub, and e-waste recycler TES-AMM which will see 100 e-waste bins installed across the island by year end.

The three companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at Singapore’s Environment Building on Tuesday to launch the ‘Recycling Nation’s Electronic Waste (RENEW) programme.

This is an expanded version of StarHub’s E-Waste Recycling Programme which began in 2012, and in partnership with TES-AMM, collected and processed e-waste from 30 bins islandwide.

The National Environment Agency estimates that Singapore produces 60,000 tonnes of e-waste annually, equivalent to the weight of 172 MRT trains. Half of this comes from consumers, and half from the industry sector.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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September 15, 2014

Carton Recycling Network Formed

The Carton Council of North America has formed a Carton Recycling Champions network, a group of companies committed to improving carton recycling.

Inaugural members are: Boxed Water Is Better, Crystal Creamery, Dean Foods, Fat Tuesday, GoodBelly, Just Beverages, Kemps, Leahy-IFP, Pacific Foods, The ReWall Company, Turner Dairy Farms and WhiteWave Foods.

A survey of American adults commissioned by CCNA and conducted by Research+Data Insights last fall further found that 86 percent of respondents say that they expect food and beverage brands to actively help increase the recycling of their packages. The survey also indicated that 76 percent of consumers look to the actual product packaging they purchase for recycling information ? even before turning to other resources, such as a city website.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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September 12, 2014

The rise of south-south trade: a challenge for sustainable agriculture

Patterns of trade and the distribution of market power in the global economy are shifting ? rapidly. In the past, most trade in agricultural commodities occurred between the countries of the global south (sites of production) and the countries of the global north (sites of consumption).

But, in recent years, the volume of south-south trade has increased significantly. Today, some of the environmentally most problematic crops such as soya and oil palm are predominantly traded amongst southern countries. With a total import volume of 63m tonnes in 2013, China is now by far the largest buyer of internationally traded soya, and India’s share of the global palm oil trade is estimated to have reached 20% (China 16%, EU 14%).

The booming demand for soya and palm oil in emerging markets has further fuelled agricultural expansion, deforestation, and biodiversity loss in producer countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Malaysia ? creating a new sustainability crisis in the global south.

Read more at The Guardian.

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September 2, 2014

Bridging the emotional disconnect between people and cities

Urban dwellers who care about conservation and are mindful about reducing energy consumption are a must-have for cities to achieve their sustainabilty goals, say experts at the International Green Building Conference 2014.

An economics-driven approach to urban development will inevitably aim to maximise the value of land area; this has led to the construction of dense, high-rise urban jungles in many countries and resulted in a swathe of identical, generic urban skylines across the globe.
This is no way to create cities that are sustainable or liveable, according to British landscape architect Andrew Grant, one of the key figures behind Singapore’s award-winning park, Gardens by the Bay.

Speaking at a plenary session at the International Green Building Conference on Tuesday, Grant, who founded and heads UK-based architecture firm Grant Associates, said that most urban expansion globally is taking place at the expense of surrounding natural spaces.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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August 21, 2014

Circular economy to get boost from consumers with first online shop

Paul Capel and business partner Brendan Rowan has set up an online store that sell goods that support the circular economy. The result is Cradle to Cradle Marketplace, which sells only Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certified products ? that is, products that have been designed with their entire lifecycle in mind.

The start-up venture has the approval of MBDC, the company set up by Braungart and McDonough to provide certification. C2C-certified products all go through rigorous tests for material reuse, renewable energy use and carbon management, water stewardship and social fairness.

C2C Marketplace’s next move is to launch online clothing made by German manufacturer Trigema. It will also supply Method cleaning products as well as a range of products it describes as “C2C inspired”. These are from companies that cannot afford to go through the certification process but are making things from C2C certified materials.

Read more at The Guardian.

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August 19, 2014

Waste-to-energy could supply 12% of US electricity

If all of the municipal solid waste (MSW) that is currently put into landfills each year in the US were diverted to waste-to-energy (WTE) power plants, it could generate enough electricity to supply 12 percent of the US total, according to a study conducted by the Earth Engineering Center (EEC) of Columbia University.

According to the study, this shift also could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 123 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year.

Sponsored by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the study is based on data obtained in Columbia University’s 2014 Survey of Waste Management in the US, which looked at waste management statistics during 2011, and from MSW characterization studies in several states.

Read more at Environmental Leader.


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August 19, 2014

China looking to connect green entrepreneurs from around the world at cleantech ‘match-making’ summit

Next month global investors and clean technology companies from around the world will meet in Beijing, China, for the Global Cleantech Summit 2014, a new event which aims to connect low carbon business pioneers to drive a global ‘clean revolution’.

Global Cleantech Summit 2014 is the first of what could be an important annual event to boost the rapidly growing low carbon markets around the world, but it comes at a particularly critical time for China. The Summit offers the clean technology perspective as a key solution to meet China’s fast-growing energy demands and gives new business leaders from other nations a chance to obtain insight on entering Chinese markets to provide their services.

As well as bringing together key experts and speakers from finance, industry and business, government leaders will also join the Summit to show their political support for low carbon growth.

Read more at The Clean Revolution.

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August 14, 2014

ICLEI and WBCSD announce collaborative partnership

Advanced technology and innovation are urgently needed to ensure sustainable urban development. Sustainable and efficient solutions for urban transport and mobility can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and noise, improve air quality, and help to create high-quality public spaces. Technological solutions can contribute to enhancing and sustaining healthy ecosystems and ecosystem services, for example by reducing water consumption.

Business is a key provider of solutions to these complex urban sustainability challenges. The main infrastructure, technology, services and financing solutions that will support the sustainable visions and strategies of cities are predominantly developed, designed and implemented by the private sector. It is crucial that cites and business develop new models for strategic engagement to realise the full capability of business to deliver innovative solutions. Unfortunately, institutional and perception barriers can limit city-business engagement where it is most critical - early in the planning process.

ICLEI ? the world's leading association of cities and local governments dedicated to sustainable development ? and the WBCSD ? the leading global business organization promoting action for sustainability ? have been working together to overcome these barriers and demonstrate in practice the real value of early strategic collaboration. Key examples of this collaboration include the WBCSD’s Urban Infrastructure Initiative (UII), the ICLEI Global Town Hall in Hannover (Germany) and a global survey of city leaders in early 2014, exploring barriers and opportunities for scaling up city collaboration with private sector solutions providers.

Read more at ICLEI Europe.

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August 13, 2014

Architects commit to carbon neutral built environment

The International Union of Architects has unanimously adopted a declaration committing to the phasing out of carbon dioxide emissions in the built environment by 2050, presented to it by Australian Institute of Architects chief executive David Parken.

The 2050 Imperative, which was presented last Friday at the UIA World Congress in Durban, recognises the urgency of the UIA and its member organisations in committing to a sustainable, equitable future.

“Urban areas are responsible for over 70 per cent of global energy consumption and CO2 emissions, mostly from buildings, and over the next two decades an area roughly equal to 60 per cent of the world’s total building stock is projected to be built and rebuilt in urban areas,” the declaration states.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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August 8, 2014

ISO Publishes Water Footprint Standard

The International Organization for Standardization has published a water footprint standard to help businesses and other organizations measure their potential environmental impact of water use and pollution.

ISO 14046, Environmental management ? Water footprint ? Principles, requirements and guidelines, is based on a life cycle assessment and can assist in:

- Assessing the magnitude of potential environmental impacts related to water,

- identifying ways to reduce those impacts,

- facilitating water efficiency and optimization of water management at product, process and organizational levels, and

- providing scientifically consistent and reliable information for reporting water footprint results that can be tracked over time.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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August 7, 2014

Construction begins on world’s largest geothermal plant

Construction will finally begin in the world’s largest geothermal power plant ? the Sarulla Geothermal Power Project in Indonesia. In the works since 1990, the $1.2 billion, 330 megawatt (MW) project is about to break ground, with the first phase online by 2016, and the entire project by 2018.

It’s been delayed by many factors, such as the 1990s Asian financial crisis, complex regulations and difficulty in finding financing for geothermal. One constraint has been an Indonesian law that lumps geothermal energy extraction in the same category as strip mining which was finally corrected by Parliament last year.

Although Indonesia is geothermal-rich, with about 40% of the world’s reserves, it currently taps into only 4-5% of that even with geothermal tariff. At 227 MW, Wayang Windu Geothermal Power Station in West Java is the largest project to date.

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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August 6, 2014

Beijing aims to ditch coal use by 2020

Beijing is set to ban coal sales and use across its six main regions by the end of 2020 in a bid to cut air pollution, Chinese state media has reported.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau announced that the districts of Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai, and Shijingshan will stop using coal and its related products, and close coal-fired power plants and other coal facilities.

Electricity and natural gas will replace coal for heating, cooking and other uses, the bureau said, with other fuels, such as fuel oil, petroleum coke, combustible waste and some biomass fuels, also likely to fall foul of the new regulations.

Currently, pollution from coal-burning combines with vehicle exhaust and industrial production to account for almost 72 percent of the PM 2.5 soot particles blamed for city-wide smogs that have choked Beijing and other cities across China.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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August 4, 2014

UN agency pushes use of bioenergy crops in Asia

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is working to promote the use of bioenergy crops in Southeast Asia so that the region may be able to balance the growing need for food and fuel.

Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO assistant director general, said in a statement that such balance is achievable by sustaining the production of both food and bioenergy crops like sugarcane, tapioca and corn.

“Bioenergy can contribute towards achieving wider and more sustainable energy access,” said Konuma. “The key is to develop bioenergy options sustainably, with the inclusion of small holders and without competition with resources for food production.”

Read more at Eco-Business.

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August 1, 2014

$100 million for Singapore’s road to energy efficiency

The Singapore government is investing $100 million into research to make buildings and data centers more energy efficient. It also released detailed plans to deploy technology to promote industrial energy efficiency, solar energy, and carbon capture technology.

The plans were developed as part of the government’s Energy National Innovation Challenge set up in 2011 to identify energy solutions that were cost-competitive and could be implemented within 20 years.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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August 1, 2014

National Grid awards crucial CCS pipeline contract

The UK’s nascent carbon capture and storage (CCS) industry has taken another step forward, after National Grid confirmed it has awarded a development contract for its planned pipeline to link the White Rose demonstration project in Yorkshire with a storage site under the North Sea.

The pipeline is expected to have the capacity to transport up to 17 million tons of CO2 a year, with the White Rose project requiring about two million tons. The extra capacity is being included in the design as it is hoped that the North East can establish itself as a CCS hub with a host of power stations and industrial sites in the region eventually making use of the pipeline and storage network.

Read more at Business Green.

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July 25, 2014

Renewables now a viable option for governments: ADB

The 2014 Annual Evaluation Review released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) puts pressure on Asia’s governments to provide affordable energy to power the region’s growing economy and population while also meeting pressing environmental objectives.

Vinod Thomas, Director General of Independent Evaluation at ADB, noted that governments in Asia are under significant pressure to keep energy prices from rising, and renewable energy can seem like an unattractive option due to high start-up costs.

“Fortunately, the cost of renewables is starting to fall, which is easing tensions between vital environmental objectives and those of an affordable and renewable energy supply,” said Thomas.

“The emerging trend presents countries with an opportunity to step up policies and investments for switching to a low carbon path. This is the right time for governments to put in place policies to encourage investment in renewables”.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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July 22, 2014

KfW toolbox helps developing countries implement sustainable procurement

On behalf of the German Federal Government and in cooperation with ICLEI ? Local Governments for Sustainability, KfW Development Bank has produced a Toolbox detailing how to include aspects of sustainability in public procurement procedures for Financial Cooperation projects. The guide places a particular focus on water infrastructure, energy with the focus on renewables, information and communication technologies, buildings and road construction. The concepts outlined are broad enough to be adapted to circumstances faced by any kind of procuring authorities in the field of Financial Cooperation.

More to read at ICLEI Europe.

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July 14, 2014

Chinese Government to buy more 'green' cars

Government agencies across the country will be required to purchase more “green” cars under a plan released yesterday that has been hailed as a big step forward in the fight against pollution and the promotion of the new-energy vehicle market.

Under the plan, drawn up by five central government ministries and departments, at least 30 per cent of all cars purchased for official use in the 2014-16 period must be new-energy. After 2016, the requirement will be increased year by year.

New-energy vehicles include electric, plug-in hybrids, fuel-cell and solar-powered models, according to the plan.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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July 3, 2014

Government spending could save the world - so what's holding it back?

As South Korea and Europe lead the way on sustainable procurement, cost and a lack of unity means many countries are lagging; a new program encourages a shift

Erica Gies
The guardian.com, Wednesday 25 June 2014 15.41 BST


Governments' purchasing decisions can have huge consequences for markets.

During the US Civil War, the Defense Department required clothiers to manufacture uniforms in small, medium, and large sizes, a new innovation in a world that knew only bespoke clothing and one-size-fits-all, and one which changed the way clothes are made and sold.

In the 20th century, US government contracts for energy-efficient appliances and computers led to more efficient machines, marked by the Energy Star label. Now in the 21st century, governments large and small are throwing their buying power behind efforts to transition to lower carbon, resource-efficient, greener economies.

“The state has a power to transform markets,” said Farid Yaker, the Paris-based program officer for sustainable public procurement at the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep).

Read more at The Guardian.

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June 27, 2014

EPA Proposes Approval of New Climate-Friendly Refrigerants

In support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to increase the options for refrigerants in the United States that offer better climate protection without harming the ozone layer. This is the agency’s first action that addresses refrigerants under the Climate Action Plan, which calls on EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program to identify and approve additional climate-friendly chemicals.

Under the authority of the Clean Air Act, EPA’s SNAP Program evaluates substitute chemicals and technologies that are safe for the ozone layer. This proposed action would expand the list of SNAP-approved substitutes to include more low-global warming potential (GWP) alternatives that can replace both the ozone-depleting substances and high-GWP hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

After receiving input from industry, environmental groups, and others, EPA is proposing to list additional low GWP hydrocarbon refrigerants in six refrigeration and air conditioning applications: stand-alone commercial and household refrigerators and freezers; very low temperature refrigeration; non-mechanical heat transfer; vending machines; and room air conditioning units. The proposal also adds one lower-GWP HFC (HFC-32) that has just one-third the GWP of the conventional refrigerants currently being used in room air conditioning units. These refrigerants are already in use in many of these applications in Europe and Asia.

Read more at EPA Newsroom.

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June 23, 2014

New procurement guide helps public authorities unlock the benefits of innovation

To reduce the existing knowledge gap on public procurement of innovation (PPI), the EU-funded Public Procurement of Innovation Platform project has launched a comprehensive guide.

The guide, which is available online and in print, offers explanations of procedures, definitions and answers to common questions, a selection of case studies, and useful resources for further reading. Particular emphasis is placed on the latest EU procurement directives, as well as ways in which procurement procedures can facilitate greater innovation.

Read more at ICLEI Europe.

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March 20, 2014

Greenpeace: European supergrid could save billions

A pan European supergrid could play a major role in helping the European Union achieve an ambitious 45 percent share of renewable energy by 2030, according to a new report from Greenpeace.

The report, based on analysis by Energynautics, sets out a case for a supergrid that could save European member states from wasting billions of pounds a year accrued by switching off wind and solar farms when demand is too high.

Using data from the International Energy Agency, the report models three potential scenarios out to 2030 that examine how much countries could integrate their national energy markets. It found that renewable energy could be installed extensively and cheaply across the bloc if it could be traded easily across member states.

Read more at Business Green.

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March 17, 2014

TripAdvisor Green Certification Expands to Europe, Canada

TripAdvisor is extending its GreenLeaders program, which highlights hotels and B&Bs engaging in environmentally friendly practices into 19 new markets. GreenLeaders has grown quickly in the US and it now plans to take the program into Canada and Europe, including the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

The hotel ratings site launched GreenLeaders in April 2013, following consultation with the United Nations Environment Programme, the US Green Building Council, Energy Star, and the International Center for Responsible Tourism Canada. The company has since awarded the status to over 3,700 hotels and B&Bs, ranging from small, independent establishments to multinational brands including Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide, Select Regency and Coast Hotels.

TripAdvisor says GreenLeaders is the largest national green hotel program that directly assesses eco-friendly practices. It assesses each application it receives against environmental criteria including recycling and composting, renewable energy use, electric car charging and green roofing.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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March 7, 2014

Global Green Economy Partnership Calls for Fundamental Shift in Investment to Green Jobs, Industry and Trade

Countries that have begun to embrace a green economy approach say that they realize a fundamental change in national planning and investment is required to reach their sustainable development and poverty eradication ambitions.

More than 450 participants from 66 countries ? including 27 ministers ? presented their national perspectives at the first global conference on the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), an initiative led by the United Nations to support countries making the transition to an inclusive, low-carbon and resource-efficient economy.

The Minister of Environment and Water of the United Arab Emirates, Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, who hosted the two-day event said: “Fundamental change in terms of attitudes, behaviors and partnerships are required. Business as usual is not an option. While each country must forge its own green economy pathway, based on its own national priorities and natural assets, sharing these different approaches will help to distill the lessons and good practices, and encourage other countries to embark on this journey.”

The PAGE initiative was launched last year after the Rio+20 global summit on sustainable development called on the United Nations to support countries in their transition to greener and inclusive economies. The initiative is supported by Friends of PAGE, a group of countries committed to supporting nations seeking assistance to transform their economies.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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March 4, 2014

EPA launches smog crackdown with new auto emission standards

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled the long-awaited vehicle emissions standards, confirming plans to slash the sulfur content of fuel and reduce smog across the country.

The agency released its so-called Tier 3 emissions standards, which are due to come into effect for cars and light trucks from 2017 in line with greenhouse gas emissions standards and are designed to cover air pollution-causing tailpipe emissions. The EPA said the rules would cut sulfur emissions by more than 60 percent, down from 30 to 10 parts per million (ppm) by 2017, resulting in huge economic and health benefits.

The rules are the latest phase in the Obama administration’s push to slash greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality across the US. The EPA reiterated that the vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards that are due to come into effect from 2017 will result in average fuel savings of more than $8,000 by 2025 over a vehicles lifetime.

Read more at Business Green.

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March 4, 2014

New UN-led Global Partnership to Help Green 30 National Economies by 2020

Countries such as Burkina Faso, Peru, Mauritius, Mongolia, and Sengal are set to boost their economies through a shift of investment and policies towards a new generation of assets that include clean technologies and resource efficient infrastructure, green skilled labor, well-functioning ecosystems, and good governance. Such a transformation, supported by the UN-led Partnership for Action on a Green Economy (PAGE), will pay significant dividends in social, environmental and economic terms. PAGE aims to extend its support to a total of 30 countries by 2020.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Directore of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said: “The Partnership for Action on Green Economy has the potential to help countries improve human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities in line with their own national development priorities. Growth in income and employment would be driven by public and private investment that reduces carbon emissions and pollution, enhances energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services”

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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March 3, 2014

WorldGBC launches project definition

The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) is launching a global project to help define the health and productivity benefits of green office buildings. The group says the business benefits of greener, healthier buildings are being recognized by the real estate sector. The WorldGBC’s project aims to define a common method to capturing these benefits, and to provide best practice guidance on the type of green building features ? such as daylighting, ventilation and indoor office environments ? that enhance them.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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February 28, 2014

UK greenlights carbon capture from natural gas

The first industrial carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project from natural gas has been given the go-ahead by the British government with Shell as the contractor.

Shell UK is launching the design phase for Peterhead Carbon Capture and Storage in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It would capture over 85% of CO2 emissions that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and then transport it through an existing pipeline to be buried in a depleted gas field 2.5 kilometers beneath the North Sea.

After the design is completed next year, Shell and the government will decide whether to pursue the rest of the project. If it goes forward, it would capture 1 million tons of carbon emissions a year while providing electricity to over 500,000 homes.

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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February 27, 2014

Recycling platform reaches a milestone

The European Recycling Platform (ERP) has hit a milestone of 2 million metric tons of recycled electronics since it began operations. ERP says this is the equivalent of removing 8 million cars from European roads for an entire year or eliminating 21.7 million metric tons of CO2 mostly through the effect of CFC elimination and raw materials recovery.

Read more at Environmetnal Leader.

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February 26, 2014

Electric vehicle chargers trial London smart grid hook up

The marriage of electric car and smart grid technologies are being trialed in London as developers look to reduce the impact of electric vehicles on existing grid infrastructure. London’s electricity distributor, UK Power Networks, announced that it is working with POD Point, Smarter Grid Solutions and Imperial College London on a comprehensive five month trial designed to overcome one of the potential long term barriers faced by the electric vehicle industry.

Experts have previously warned that while electric vehicles have the potential to slash greenhouse gas emissions from transport their widespread adoption would put significant pressure on ageing electricity grids.

Now the new trial, backed by Ofgem’s Low Carbon London fund, is seeking to identify how smart grid technologies and energy management software from Smarter Grid Solutions and POD Point respectively could automatically optimize electric vehicle charging to avoid excessive demand on the grid at peak times. The technology is being trialed at three sites across the capital, including five public charge points in the city, 10 in Beckton, and 50 of the most popular points in London.

Read more at Business Green.

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February 25, 2014

Support for green economy surges but crucial gaps remain

Governments, businesses, investors and others are embracing the ‘green economy’ idea, but differences in the way they interpret it pose barriers to sustainable development, according to a report published by the International Institute for Environment and Development and the Green Economy Coalition.

“The green economy concept is an antidote to the prevailing brown economy, which is a major driver of environmental degradation and inequality,” says Oliver Greenfield Convener of the Green Economy Coalition. “Its purpose is to improve both society and the natural environment. Right now though, the most powerful players are backing a narrower goal of ‘green growth’, which risks being discredited unless it more effectively tackles inequality.”

The report outlines ways to bridge this and other gaps that could jeopardize the transition towards inclusive, sustainable development.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 24, 2014

Energising green cities: Solutions to meet demand and spark economic growth

Cities in Southeast Asia (SEA) are growing twice as fast as the rest of the world and by 2030, it is expected that 70 percent of SEA population will live in cities. Given their size and dynamic growth, SEA cities today have a unique opportunity to also become global engines of green growth by choosing energy-efficient solutions for their infrastructure needs.

Improving energy efficiency isn’t just good for the environment; it’s good for economic growth, says a World Bank report, “Energising Green Cities in Southeast Asia ? Applying Sustainable Urban Energy and Emissions Planning.”

According to the report, there is a clear correlation between investments in energy efficient solutions in infrastructure and economic growth, based on a study of three cities ? Da Nang in Vietnam, Surabaya in Indonesia and Cebu City in the Philippines. By improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, cities not only help the global environment, but they also support local economic development through productivity gains, reduced pollutions and more efficient use of resources.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 21, 2014

Ecolabels don’t influence consumer food choice, study says

Consumers are concerned about sustainability, but their understanding is limited and ecolabels rarely influence food purchases, according to a study by the European Food Information Council.

The study, “Sustainability labels on food products: Consumer motivation, understanding and use”, which surveyed 4,408 respondents living in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and Poland says, consumers have a medium to high-level of concern with sustainability issues at a general level. That level of concern ? and understanding ? falls when it comes to making food and beverage choices.

The study, which was published in Food Policy, tested environmental and ethical aspects against nutritional value and price and found sustainability had no meaningful impact on food choice, across all product categories.

Researchers say the results don’t necessarily imply that sustainability information will not play a role in future food purchases. However, compared to health and nutrition-related issues, sustainability is more difficult to grasp and, as a result, it struggles to be relevant in a consumer’s mindset during purchases.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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February 21, 2014

Earth’s green canopy gets online protector

A new online monitoring system will make it possible to quickly check the condition of tropical forests around the globe that were previously under no surveillance, potentially increasing pressure on governments to stop deforestation.

Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI) will provide public access to the new tool to evaluate forests worldwide. Global Forest Watch (GFW) was developed by dozens of institutions with the help of Google Inc’s Earth Engine. It promises to improve scrutiny of changes in forest cover in vulnerable areas of Southeast Asia, Africa and the Amazon.

“With the exception f Brazil, none of the tropical forest countries have been able to report the state of their forests,” said Rebecca Moore, engineering manager with Google Earth Outreach and Earth Engine. “Now it will be possible to have near real-time updates of the state of the world’s forests, open to anyone to use.”

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 20, 2014

New car labels would promote use of renewable fuels

“To increase consumer awareness regarding the use and benefits of alternative fuels,” writes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they will require car manufacturers to label vehicles indicating the kinds of fuels they can use: ethanol, biodiesel, vegetable oil, hydrogen or electric batteries.

In addition to a permanent label on the vehicle exterior, a second sticker will be on the fuel tank compartment, and text in the owner’s manual will provide information on the “capabilities and benefits” of using alternative fuels.

The rule applies to new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold in the US and is in addition to new EPA stickers that give information about the fuel’s fuel economy, greenhouse gas emissions and smog-forming emissions in a way that can be easily compared across vehicles.

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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February 20, 2014

Study: Wind turbines remain efficient for at least 25 years

Wind turbines can remain productive for up to 25 years, scientists have said, scotching claims that the devices have a more limited shelf life than other energy technologies. New researched published by the Imperial College Business School that analyses UK’s 4,246 wind turbines using local wind speed data from NASA showed turbines will last their full life of around 25 years before they need to be upgraded.

The study found even the earliest turbines built in the 1990s, are still producing three-quarters of their original output after 19 years of operation. This is almost twice the amount previously claimed and the researchers say the turbines will continue to operate effectively for up to 25 years ? comparable to the performance of gas turbines used in power stations.

More recent turbines are understood to perform even better as they age and could have a longer lifespan than first estimated, which the researchers said further strengthens the attractiveness of wind farms as an effective long-term investment.

The researchers reached their conclusion using data from NASA, collected over a 20-year period, to measure the wind speed and at the exact site of each onshore windfarm in the UK.

Read more at Business Green.

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February 18, 2014

Stronger push for ‘green’ cars

Buyers of cleaner and more efficient cars in Beijing can receive a maximum subsidy of 57,000 yuan from the central government as it targets 200,000 clean energy vehicles on the road by the end of 2017.

Beijing will offer 20,000 license plates for fully-electric cars through a lottery system in 2014 according to a clean air action plan released in late 2013. The transport authority said it will increase the quota to 30,000 in 2015 and double it to 60,000 in 2016 and 2017. In addition to the ease of licensing, both the central and local governments are offering generous subsidies to buyers of clean-energy models.

Despite the incentives, many are reluctant to buy a green-energy model, with their biggest concern the travel range. China News Service reported that there were about 70 charging stations in Beijing by the end of 2013, most of them serving buses, taxis and other public vehicles. The Beijing government announced it will build 1,000 charging stalls in 2014 with its long-term target to have stations within five kilometers of any locale in the city.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 17, 2014

Sustainable packaging market to hit $244 billion by 2018

Consumer demand, advances in material technology and legislation will push sustainable packaging to a $244 billion market by 2018, according to report by Smithers Para. The “Future of Sustainable Packaging to 2018” report found awareness among consumers is driving demand for sustainability, particularly packaging that has a smaller environmental footprint.

Sustainability programs are increasingly seen as a source of innovation that can serve as a platform for new product ? for instance, packaging materials ? and market development, the report says. The report also forecasts that downsizing or lightweighting, increased recycling and waste recovery, increased the use of recycled content, improvement in packaging and logistical efficiency and increased use of renewable-sourced materials are the five most common trends in sustainable packaging.

Demand for sustainable packaging in China and India and a growing middle class aware of health and the environment is driving growth in Asia. The Smithers Para report forecasts that Asia will be the largest market for sustainable packaging in the world by 2018, accounting for 32 percent of the overall market, reported PackWorld.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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February 12, 2014

New York Green Bank confirmed as “open for business”

New York has officially launched its Green Bank, confirming plans to boost investment in environmental technologies and renewable energy, such as wind farms and solar panels. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the bank officially started operations yesterday, outlining how it will invest alongside other parties in clean power and energy efficiency projects.

In the long term, the Green Bank is expected to be capitalized with $1 billion, which, like the UK’s Green Investment Bank, will be used to leverage additional private investment. It opened with $210 million funding, $165 million of which has been redirected from unallocated government funds such as surcharges on utility bills that the state already collects to fund energy efficiency programs and $45 million that has been raised through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative emissions trading scheme.

The bank said it expects to support a wide range of businesses and technologies, including solar, wind and other renewable energy generation technologies, as well as energy efficiency measures and onsite generation.

Read more at Business Green.

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February 11, 2014

Online registry tracks credits

Ecometrica’s online tracing and registry software addresses the need to ensure that certified products or certificates of environmental benefit can be traced back to a specific farm, forest, plantation, ecosystem or mining operation.

Trace to Source is an online registry platform for managing environmental credits and certified materials. It allows the users to trace certificates and materials at any point in the supply chain back to their source. This reduces potential overlapping claims and facilitates verification of origination. The registry functionality ensures that products or certificates or certified material cannot be diverted or “double-counted” through the chain of custody and allows traceability to source to be applied at any stage of the chain.

The software is integrated with Ecometrica’s geospatial data platform, Our Ecosystem, which allows any source are to access relevant geospatial information ? such as land use changes, extreme weather events, vegetation condition, fires or other hazards.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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February 7, 2014

Taiwan promotes new green, healthy plastic

A special polylactic acid (PLA) resistant to temperatures of more than 100 C has been developed by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), with possible applications including food and drink containers that promise to contribute greatly to food safety and the environment.

According to the government-funded R&D body in Hsinchu County, researchers spent eight years perfecting the use of non-toxic nucleating agents in producing the special PLA to create molded plastic that is heat and deformation-resistant, non-toxic and rapid-setting. PLA can be manufactured from a variety of biological sources, such as corn starch. The modified PLA also readily decomposes into carbon dioxide and water in soil, making it environmentally friendly.

Manufacturers are already cooperating with ITRI in commercialization of the new technology to create safe, heat-resistant utensils for children. Other applications, such as high-density electronic devices, transparent plastic bags, as well as coatings for paper cups and wooden lunchboxes, are also in the pipeline.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 3, 2014

Sustainable label programs enjoy 40 percent boost

Production of certified sustainable goods, such as those carrying Fairtrade or organic labels, jumped more than 40 percent in 2012, increasing their market share across a raft of product categories.

A new study of the 16 most prevalent green standards initiatives across 10 commodities sectors records the rapid expansion in the development and use of voluntary standards over the past decade, transforming them from instruments for supporting niche markets into globally recognized names. In 2012, certified or verified production across the 16 standards reached an estimated trade value of $36.1 billion, while the market grew at a rate that was 20 times that of the corresponding conventional commodity markets.

However, while the report highlights strong growth in both production and sales of green labeled products, it also identifies a “persistent oversupply of standard-compliant products,” despite a growing number of companies making commitments to source sustainably. As a result, many products that could be sold as certified are not marketed as such.

The overarching message of the report is that while sustainability standards make and important contribution to the green economy by driving investment in sustainable technologies and practices, they cannot be assumed to deliver sustainable outcomes on their own. Bill Vorley of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) said, complementary policies are required ? on top of business-led initiatives and sustainable sourcing policies ? to ensure labeling schemes are raising standards across entire sectors.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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January 29, 2014

New green management certification standards edge forward

Countries have backed a move to publish a revised version of ISO 14001 as a draft international standard (DIS), paving the way for sustainable management best practices to play an even more central role in corporate decision making.

Over 80 percent of ISO members voted in favor of a second committee draft (CD2) of the revised environmental management systems standard, published in October, in a ballot process that ran up to January 23.

The next meeting of the international working group drafting the standard will be held from 25th February to 1st March and will see the group consider the comments submitted during the latest consultation. A final round of consultation with users will then be undertaken before the new standard is officially launched.

The ISO 14001 standard has proven hugely popular globally with the take up of the guidelines soaring nine percent during 2012 to over 285,000 organizations globally.

Read more at Business Green.

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January 29, 2014

Energy efficient asphalt could drive down road emissions

Using lower temperature asphalt in road construction could save the UK road industry more than £46m over the next 10 years, while also cutting carbon emissions arising from the process by up to 39 percent, a new study has found.

A three year project by Lafarge Tarmac and the Carbon Trust claims to have successfully trialled a material that bonds road materials as effectively as conventional methods, but uses temperatures much lower than the standard 180C and 190C meaning that it requires far less energy.

The project team calculates that should the UK road industry adopt the specifications for the use of the new asphalt that they have designed then the technology could account for 21 percent of the total market within 10 years. Such a market share could save the industry £46.2m and cut emissions by around 260,000 tonnes of CO2 over the decade ? equivalent carbon savings to taking more than 345,000 cars off the road.


Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 29, 2014

Award-winning professor creates cow-less leather with chicken feathers

Professor Richard Wool, a 2013 US Environmental Protection Agency awardee, has devised a leather substitute out of chicken feathers, creating a manufacturing method that uses less energy and water.

A professor at the University of Delaware, he developed a new type of material called Eco-leather, made from a combination of bio-based materials like discarded chicken feathers, flax, and vegetable oils, that is processed using techniques from aerospace engineers. The result is not only a pair of shoes with breathable leather and sturdy soles, but also a manufacturing method that is unlike the usual petroleum-based processes. Traditional leather making or shoe-making uses a significant amount of water and energy, and causes pollution with its hazardous waste.

Wool’s eco-leather and other bio-based materials can be applied to various industries other than footwear, according to the Affordable Composites from Renewable Sources (ACRES) program at the University. The research group, focused primarily on the use of soybean triglycerides as raw materials, noted that potential applications for these eco-materials include the automotive industry, farm machinery, construction industry, and the defense sector.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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January 27, 2014

Philips teams up with mayors to power city LEDs

Washington, D.C. is following in the footsteps of a bunch of cities that have ? or are in the process of ? switching their lighting to LEDs. But unlike the other cities, Washington isn’t paying the high costs of making the switch ? it is taking advantage of the first foray of Philips Lighting (which manufactures the LEDs) into offering a “lighting as a service” model.

In Washington, D.C., Philips will upgrade more than 13,000 lighting fixtures in all its parking garages at no upfront cost to the city and provide a 10-year maintenance contract. Philips will get paid from the $2 million in savings the LEDs are expected to provide each year. The project starts this spring and will take about a year.

“With digital lighting systems, we really need to break the conventional thinking and look to the services and delivery models of the software industry to understand the future of lighting and how we can remove one of the greatest barriers to adoption: the upfront costs,” said Bruno Biasiotta, CEO of Philips Lighting Americas.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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January 27, 2014

Switzerland scores first in global green rankings

Switzerland tops a new index that was released at Davos this weekend, which ranks countries in order of their sustainability efforts.

The Environmental Performance Index, tracks the performance of 178 countries representing 95% of global GDP, under two broad policy areas: ‘protection of human health from environmental harm’ and ‘protection of ecosystems’, that include indicators such as climate change, air quality and water management. The results are used to measure how close countries are to meeting international targets, see what is working best, compare the leaders, and improve performance across the world.

Switzerland came out on top, followed by Luxemburg, Australia, Singapore and the Czech Republic.

Read more at The Clean Revolution.

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January 24, 2014

First Grocer joins How2Recycle

Wegmans Food Markets has joined the How2Recycle Label program, making it the first grocer to use the voluntary recycling label developed by GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition.

The addition of Wegmans also pushes How2recycle past its goal of 20 participating companies including Kellog’s, Best Buy, Clorox, Costco, Estee Lauder Companies Aveda brand, General Mills, Microsoft, Minute Maid, Sealed Air, Seventh Generation and REI. Wegmans is the fifth How2Recycle participant and first retailer to receive a sponsorship from the American Chemistry Council’s Flexible Film recycling Group for use of the Store Drop-off Label on its plastic carryout bags.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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January 23, 2014

LED street lighting can generate savings as high as 85 percent

The Climate Group, in association with Philips, launched a global ‘consultation process’ with its network of member cities, states and regions to identify and address barriers to the adoption of low carbon LED (light-emitting diode) street lighting in cities.

The collaborative consultation will focus on identifying practical solutions and addressing specific geographical challenges to LED adoption. It will address topics such as the benefits of LEDs, new approaches to LED financing, risk allocation, intelligent and smart lighting, future-proofing, standards, quality thresholds, and related socio-economic benefits from LED lighting.

In its 2012 report, “Lighting the Clean Revolution: The rise of LEDs and what it means for cities”, The Climate Group, supported by Philips, reported that following a global trial across 12 cities, LED street lighting could generate energy savings as high as 85%, making a significant impact in the 19% of global energy consumed by lighting.

Read more at The Clean Revolution.

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January 23, 2014

Singapore to build green features into new public housing

The Singapore government has said that all future public housing developments will be outfitted with a range of standard eco-living features including centralized waste recycling chutes, LED lighting, motion sensors and even a system that uses drained sink water to flush toilets.

The initiative will begin with 3,193 new flats the Housing and Development Board announced under the years’ first Built-to-Order (BTO) allotment launched yesterday. The first batch of BTO flats for 2014 will be located in the long-established Serangoon estate and the relatively newer towns of Bukit Batok, Juron West, Punggol and Woodlands.

Read more at CleanBiz Asia.

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January 23, 2014

Swedish city builds ‘passive houses’ as part of ambitious CO2 reduction targets

Passive housing is catching on across Europe, but Vaxjo boasts innovative highrise project to help country realize goal of eliminating CO2 emissions by 2050.

Passive houses feature wood frames and very thick walls, which keep cold air out and human-generated heat ? from cooking, gadget use, people moving about ? in. Each of the Vaxjo city-funded highrises also has a ventilator in the attic that transports the human-generated heat back into the apartments. The buildings even recycle wastewater, which contains valuable heat.

For Vaxjo, the passive-house push is part of a highly ambitious CO2 reduction plan. The university city, home to some 61,000 residents, has already built a 150km bike-path system and launched a bus fleet running on biogas from sewage. By the end of last year, such measures had resulted in a 41% reduction of the city’s emissions compared to 1993 levels, and by 2025, the city aims to be 70% CO2-free.

Read more at The Guardian.

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January 22, 2014

New Web Platform Launched to Accelerate Green Economy Transition

A robust, state-of-the art knowledge-sharing platform was launched today by the newly established Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP), a diverse consortium of leading institutions and organizations working in areas related to green growth and green economy. The website is in response to the increasing demand from both policy makers and the public for information on ways to achieve sustainable economic growth.

“The GGKP is quickly emerging as the leading platform for managing and sharing knowledge around green growth and its new web platform will help to empower others”, said Howard Bamsey, Director-General of the Global Green Grown Institute (GGGI).

As of January 2014, the GGKP confirms agreements with 29 knowledge partners, including international organization, research institutes and think tanks. Moving forward, the GGKP will work with these partners to promote collaboration and coordinated research on a number of priority themes, including green growth indicators and measurement, trade and competitiveness and green technology and innovation.

Read more at UNEP.

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January 16, 2014

EPA moves hazardous waste e-Manifest system forward

The EPA has issued a final rule that it says is a crucial step in developing a national electronic manifest (e-Manifest) system, which will upgrade the current paper-based system of tracking hazardous waste to an electronic one.

Once fully implemented, the national e-Manifest system will give emergency responders greater access about the types and sources of hazardous wastes that are in transit between generator sites and waste management facilities, says Mathy Stanislaus, EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

The e-Manifest program is the vanguard of the agency-wide initiative to develop new tools to reduce the reporting burden on regulated entities, and provide the agency, states and the public with easier access to environmental data. The EPA estimates the national e-Manifest system will ultimately reduce the burden associated with preparing shipping manifests by between 300,000 and 700,000 hours, and result in cost savings of more than $75 million per year for states and industry.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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January 16, 2014

EcoATM recycles 2 million electronic devices

EcoATM, a network of automated electronics recycling kiosks, says it has recycled mor