recycle 9781907317026nConfusing recycling bins – too many recycling bins – and ‘green fatigue’  – are three factors turning people off recycling at home in the UK. These factors, along with a fall in the use of paper and glass in the UK, has prompted a stalling in the UK’s recycling rate – which needs to be 50% opf waste by 2020 to meet EU targets. The UK’s recycling rate was 43.2% in 2012-2013 – up just 0.2% from the year before (Defra) and SITA UK, who collect waste from 12 million homes, says that its recycling collections are already falling in some urban areas including London – an suggests that only mixed recycling (where almost all ‘dry’ recyclables are collected together in one bin) will promote higher recycling rates. The Campaign for Real Recycling oppose mixed bin recycling saying that too much collected ends up in landfill – and note that mixed bin suits the waste companies as they can use less vehicles.

china - clean air needed now

china – clean air needed now

After decades of manufacturing driven economic growth which has left the air, land and water badly polluted, China plans to scrap upwards of six million vehicles in the next year to remove cars and lorries with high emissions and polluting exhaust outputs.

Scientists have found that climate change is altering the colour of insects. A study of 366 butterfly an 107 dragonfly species shows that paler dragonflies and butterflies in Europe have become more successful – and paler insects from the south are now displacing darker variants further North as the region warms as they can reflect more warmth and prevent overheating.

WRAP – the Waste and Resources Action Programme – has launched a new £800,000 fund to help business partnerships bring about “innovative” waste prevention projects. Grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 are being offered to business partnerships that seek to support local-level waste prevention projects. Partnerships can involve local businesses, councils, charities and voluntary groups.  The ‘Innovation in Waste Prevention Fund’ aims to support communities across England in their effort to prevent waste, stimulating long-term changes to business models that encourage items to be kept in use for longer.

ALLOTMENTS3A group of European Union states led by the Netherlands and Sweden are calling on the European Commission to scrap ‘best before’ labels on a host of long life products in a bid to cut down on food waste. The proposal, backed by the governments of Austria, Denmark, Germany, Luxemburg, Sweden and the Netherlands, is designed to reduce the estimated 90m tonnes of edible food that is thrown away throughout Europe each year.  Under the plan, manufacturers would no longer have to put a best before date on foods that people keep in their cupboards for a long time such as rice and pasta.

And reports that businesses across the UK now have access to the world’s first guidance document which outlines how to design effective food waste prevention programmes based on proven experiences across the globe. The new tool – Think.Eat.Save Guidance Version 1.0 – has been released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO) and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) as part of the Save Food initiative.

Our friends at FareShare have pointed out that UK supermarkets are wasting thousands of tonnes of surplus food because subsidies for green energy make it cheaper to turn it into biogas than to donate it to hungry families. The government is spending millions of pounds subsidising the construction and operation of anaerobic digestion plants that are converting up to 100,000 tonnes of edible food a year into biogas, FareShare said but the subsidies mean that retailers and their suppliers can dispose of surplus food much more cheaply by sending it to these plants rather than delivering it to charities. Frank Field, the former Labour welfare minister leading an inquiry into food poverty, said that the subsidy system was “madness on stilts”. He has called for it to be reformed to make donating surplus food the cheapest option for the industry. “We live in a country where people are hungry yet we are using taxpayers’ money to destroy edible food,” he said. Mr Field’s inquiry found that only 2 per cent of the 300,000 to 400,000 tonnes of surplus food produced annually by the industry was redistributed to charities. FareShare, which redistributes 5,000 tonnes of surplus food a year to 1,300 charities and community projects, said that the subsidies for anaerobic digestion could be in breach of a directive that requires waste to be re-used where possible before being turned into energy.

This short video below tells the story of how climate change – more specifically ocean acidification – is affecting the life of fifth-generation small oyster farmers off the coast of Washington state. It was made by The Story Group, an independent journalism company that uses storytelling to covering “critical issues of our time”. I think it’s a great idea to break up the rather abstract concept of ‘climate change’ into more concrete pieces that show how it’s affecting people and ecosystems more directly. The short film is great, check it out here

A new report from the League of American Bicyclists has tracked a year of cycling fatalities and looked at the locations, the types of accidents and the penalties for the drivers that caused the accidents. And yes, for all the complaints about cyclists being irresponsible louts who cause accidents by going through stop signs and red lights, the numbers show otherwise. A shocking 40% of the deaths are “hit from behind” incidents, where drivers just go right over a cyclist. This is disproportionately large in relation to the number of cycling accidents. Of 238 fatal crashes where drivers were blamed, 42% were careless or inattentive, 36% were hit and run, and 12% were drunk or drugged. The most deaths happen on urban arterial roads, those multi-lane higher speed roads that probably have lots of room for bike lanes. Because that’s the way you reduce the rear-ender accidents, by giving cyclists their own separated lane

The National Trust has slashed its environmental footprint by switching on the UK’s largest marine-source heat pump at a country house in North Wales. Plas Newydd, which was previously consuming over 1,500 litres of oil every day, is now entirely heated by the 300kW marine source heat pump which cost £600,000 to install but will save the conservation organisation over £40,000 a year in operating costs.

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has launched an affiliate trade body to represent the UK’s growing wood heat industry. The newly formed Wood Heat Association (WHA) will unify the 700-plus companies across the UK’s wood heat supply chain; from equipment manufacturers and installers to fuel producers and distributors. It will benefit from the REA’s back-office support much the same way as the Solar Trade Association (STA) did when it became affiliated to the REA in 2011.

The UK energy industry has welcomed a new report from an influential Parliamentary committee which argues that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is now ‘vital’ to limiting climate change and the technology must be fast-tracked for use in UK power stations within the next 12 months. The new report from the Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECC), explains that CCS – which traps carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning and buries it – has become essential for the UK’s low-carbon ambitions and that investment decisions on two pilot CCS projects must be finalised before the next general election.

Five out of seven European car manufacturers will reach the EU’s carbon emissions objectives by the 2021 deadline if they progress at the same rate since the law was introduced in 2008.  That’s according to the 2014 Cars and CO2 report released today by Transport & Environment (T&E), which monitors the annual progress made by vehicle manufacturers to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of new cars.  Volvo, Toyota, Peugeot-Citroen, Renault, Ford and Daimler will all hit their targets early, while VW and Nissan are on schedule

Stating the obvious? Engineering firm Arup says that toilet redesign could unlock the key to reducing the amount of water used during the flushing process within the built environment.  Arup is working with a toilet inventor on a novel system that uses air assistance to generate a maximum of 1.5 litres of water per flush, compared with typical dual flush toilets which use between four and six litres.  The firm has developed a universal connector so that it can be fitted to existing drainage systems and is currently testing it within two of its London offices. We hope they are flushed with success! More on here.

By |2016-11-01T15:04:10+00:00June 3rd, 2014|AGF Blog|