A new exhibiton of photographs showing life in some of the most remote communities in the world is taking place in London, amidst warnings that climate change may well wipe out ancient ways of life within years. Ragnar Axelsson has spent 25 years capturing the lifestyles of traditional  innuit hunters ad fishermen in Greenland andhis new exhibition ‘LAST DAYS OF THE ARCTIC’ runs until March 11th at the Proud Gallery in Kings Road, Chelsea, London.

Meredith Alexander, Ethics Commissioner for the London 2012 Olympics, is leaving her post saying she cannot sanction the involvement of Dow Chemicals as a sponsor. Dow remain embroiled in a worldwide row over the Bhopal chemicals disaster at the Union Carbide plant in India in 1999.  The Commission for Sustainable London appear to have agreed to the £7 million deal, despite the fact that 3,500 people died when the within days of the Bhopal chemical gas tragedy and campaigners say more than 20,000 more have died since. Dow has a greed to withdraw branding from Olympic stadium panels.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has signed a pilot agreement with energy storage and clean fuel company ITM Power to deliver what it claims is the UK’s first hydrogen fuel powered vehicles. The trial forms part of M&S’ ongoing Plan A Initiative which sets out a number of sustainability ambitions, including a target of sourcing 100% of its energy from renewable sources.

Food manufacturers have welcomed EU proposals to deliver a coordinated strategy to halve the amount of food waste by 2025. The European Parliament has asked the Commission and member states to draw up plans to tackle the problem. Nearly 50% of edible and healthy food is wasted every year in the EU by households, supermarkets, restaurants and the distribution chain.  The EU says food waste currently amounts to around 89 million tonnes a year and could climb to 126 million tonnes in 2020 if no action is taken.

A Perthshire landowner and contractor have been handed fines of £9,000 and £900 respectively at Perth Sheriff’s Court for illegal waterworks in the River Tay, Scotland to enable gravel extraction. As a result of investigations by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), landowner Thomas Steuart Fothringham and contractor McIntosh & Robertson, run by John McIntosh, were found guilty of carrying out engineering works by building grey bank protection (river bank protection using artificial materials) on the south bank of the River Tay without a license.  According to SEPA, the engineering activities could have caused “huge adverse impacts on the water environment” as a result of silt into the river. reports that UK retailers will have to extend their takeback schemes for e-waste under new rules governing the WEEE Directive which have effectively strengthened producer responsibility requirements. The recast of the directive, which was approved by the European Parliament means that large stores selling electronic items – with a floor space of over 400 square metres – will be obliged to take back small items of WEEE free of charge, regardless of whether a customer makes a purchase or not. In addition, manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment will continue to contribute financially towards meeting tougher reprocessing targets, although they will benefit from a cut in red tape, with simplified registration and reporting requirements.

Sony Corporation has exceeded its waste minimisation targets across all of its global business sites, achieving a 54% reduction rate in 2010 set against a 40% objective. The electronics giant is now embarking on a number of pioneering initiatives to take its ambitions further. Out in Korea, Sony has launched a zero electronic waste campaign in collaboration with the Korean Government and various recycling companies, signing a memorandum of understanding with a national council of green consumers. Across Europe Sony says it is also reducing waste.. Recycling levels have increased from 73% in 2000 to 99% in 2009, meaning that 99% of the waste generated by Sony Europe’s manufacturing facilities is now either reused or recycled.

Northern Ireland will be bringing in a 5p levy on plastic bags from next year. A similar move in the Republic of Ireland which currently has a 18p levy per bag led to a 90% drop in plastic bag use. The Northern Ireland levy will rise to 10p in 2014.

Supermarket giant Tesco is back tracking on its support for carbon labelling of its products.  The chain says the labels, which it launched with the Carbon Trust four years ago, is frustrated at the lack of take up by other retailers and the time it takes to organise reports the Grocer magazine.  Tesco displays the label on around 500 products and is one of more than 100 businesses currently using it. reports that London’s police force has begun installing solar PV on its buildings as part of carbon cutting drive. The latest installation on the a Metropolitan Police Service’s building has seen solar PV panels installed on the roof of Lewisham station, in south east London.  So far, including Lewisham, three of the Met’s buildings have had PV installed on roofs.  The National Trust is also supporting solar power industry by commissioning renewable energy consultants Dulas to deliver its biggest solar panel installation yet. The works at the National Trust’s Grade 1 listed villa Llanerchaeron, Wales is expected to generate up to half of the electricity the property requires, with installation reaching completion before the cut to Feed In-Tariffs (FITs) came into force last month.

Plasterboard manufacturer British Gypsum has reached zero waste across all of its UK production operations, resulting in the closure of an internal landfill site.  The company has implemented a comprehensive waste reduction programme at its Kirky Thore manufacturing facility and is now recycling all of its gypsum waste. It has since closed and restored a nearby landfill site where the waste was previously sent to.  The programme reduced the amount of production waste going to landfill from an average of 5,000 tonnes per month in 2004 to zero in just six years.

The average UK family home is comfortably warm at 17.3C a rise of more than 5C since 1970 according to figures from University of Salford Retrofit 2012 conference which showed the average temperature at risen by just over a degree C a decade since the 70s.  Another challenge is that expectation of personal comfort in the home had risen, with the public’s definition of ‘comfortable’ home temperature rising from 12C in 1970 to 17.3C in 2008.


Unilever Food Solutions has developed a waste toolkit for catering venues and restaurants to help food service operators control their costs better. The toolkit breaks down the cost of commercial food waste and contains guidance on how establishments can carry out waste audits. It includes a briefing sheet for managers, guidelines for staff and menu ideas to use frequently wasted ngredients. Unilever drew up the toolkit in response to its latest World Menu Report, which highlights the growing problem of food waste when consumers dine out. According to the research, over half the food produced in the world today is wasted as a result of inefficiencies in the human managed food chain. We have just updated our ‘information pages’ to include more content on food, starting with a extremely interesting article by Hannah Claxton who previously worked in the music industry and now describes herself as a ‘trainee farmer’ – with a determination to produce sustainable food.

As the Environment Agency continues to urge businesses to reduce their water use, drinks giant Coca-Cola has unveiled how it will continue to hit “stringent” targets to reduce water usage in its first digital Global Reporting Initiative. As part of the ‘Reasons to Believe’ sustainability report, which follows GRI sustainability reporting guidelines, ‘water stewardship’ is one of four key areas focused on by Coca-Cola. And car giant Ford has revealed that it has invested Euro 2.3m in its five-year water reduction strategy.

Pioneering technology using microbubbles could solve the difficulties of harvesting algae for use as a biofuel, according to scientists. The technique, developed at the University of Sheffield, builds on previous research in which microbubbles were used to improve the way algae is cultivated.  Algae produce an oil which can be processed to create a useful biofuel. Until now however, there has been no cost-effective method of harvesting and removing the water from the algae for it to be processed effectively.

The rise of mixed plastics collections in the UK is starting to pose serious material quality problems for reprocessors, according to new research, According to a technical guide from WRAP, increasing amounts of mixed plastic packaging are diluting the presence of PET and HDPE bottles, making it difficult for plant operators to extract these polymer types to a high enough standard. The cost of this fall in quality in turn is now being passed onto local authorities through a reduction in the price they receive for their plastic bottles, and this trend is likely to continue until more infrastructure capable of sorting bottles from mixed plastics comes on-stream.

By |2016-11-01T15:05:19+00:00February 8th, 2012|AGF Blog|