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ANOTHER PLANET

Good news –  scientists have developed a robot jellyfish which has synthetic muscles powered by the hydrogen and oxygen in water. The Robot is made up of eight moving parts wrapped in carbon nanotubes and coated with a platinum powder.How sustainable is that! Bad news – the research was funded by the US military who are looking at options like ‘underwater spy drones’ for the new technology.

A fascinating article on Tree Hugger about the future design of wind turbines – and they don’t have to be giant windmills, or have baldes – and they can run in low wind,  – and designs include the Makani Airborne Wind Turbine, the Altaeros Airborne Wind Turbine (pictured), the Wind Harvester, the Wind Stalk and vertical axis turbines.  Much more at http://www.treehugger.com/wind-technology/future-wind-power-9-cool-innovations.html?campaign=weekly_nl

TreeHugger also has an interstig review of a new book detailing many of the buildings that have been built for the London 2012 Olympic Games  – London 2012 Sustainable Design – Delivering a Games Legacy by architect Hattie Hartman   http://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/London-sustainability-guide-Olympics.html?campaign=weekly_nl

The UK government is to revive its £1bn Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) competition and take its first steps to design the first workable demonstration project has been welcomed by industry.  Energy secretary Ed Davey announced the CCS Commercialisation Programme, which replaces the scrapped Longannet CCS scheme, and which aims to boost innovation in carbon capture and storage technologies.  It is anticipated the initiative, which is financed using public funding, will help the UK meet its climate change targets and boost energy security by encouraging development in CCS technology. A major change to the reformed competition is that it will be open to gas-powered stations with Stuart Haszeldine, Scottish Power Professor of Carbon Capture and Storage at the University of Edinburgh saying “This is a much, much better offer than we had before”.

A French village has proposed giving two chickens to each household to cut down on food waste.  Officials from Pince in the northwest of France say the chickens could consume up to 150kg of food waste each year from families, as well as provide eggs for the breakfast table.  So far, 20 households have reportedly already stated an interest in receiving the birds which will be handed out in September – and it works – when I used to keep chicken, ALL household vegetable waste either went to the chickens or was composted – the hens loved peas, cooked rice, potato peelings, lettuce leaves – even cabbage leaves – and produced lovely eggs and free manure too!

NHS trusts will be required to produce annual sustainability reports as from this year under new laws announced by the Department of Health. Trusts will be required to chart their sustainability progress as part of their annual reporting obligations.  The legislation aims to tackle the NHS’s immense carbon impact which totals 20m tonnes of CO2.

UK Businesses will face higher waste disposal costs as from this month as landfill tax rises to £64 per tonne under the Government’s continued materials diversion drive. The hike represents an £8 increase from the 2011-12 rate of £56 per tonne and will put companies under greater pressure to manage their waste more effectively by seeking alternative treatment and recovery options.

Edie.net reports that despite climate change posing a “substantial” risk to UK major companies less than half have contingency plans in place. New research by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which conducted a poll of UK FTSE 100 companies as part of its Insight into Climate Change Adaptation by UK Companies Report which found that while 80% of respondents had identified substantial risks to their business from climate change, just 46% said they had plans in place to protect against.

The UK’s paper recycling rate stands at 78.7%, an increase of nearly 5% on the previous year, according to latest figures. Data released by the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) shows a rise from 75.1% in 2010 to 78.7% in 2011.

Water restrictions are now in force for Southern and Eastern England customers l as seven water companies pull the plug on hosepipe use. This follows last month’s warning that restrictions are likely to be enforced this spring as a result of a drier than average autumn, winter and early spring which has left reservoir levels seriously low and parts of the country in drought  Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East are the first seven companies to enforce restrictions, with some of these restrictions coming into force on April 5th in the form of a hosepipe ban with a maximum £1000 penalty.

Nearly 20 states in the USA are planning to introduce labelling for genetically modified foods – something an estimated 90 percent of American people want but aren’t getting from their federal government but it seems that that state government officials may even be dragging their feet on legislation they previously supported—with AlterNet reporting that this is because chemicals giant Monsanto is threatening to sue explaining hat the legislators changed their minds only after a Monsanto representative threatened a public official that the chemical and biotech giant would sue Vermont if they dared to pass the labeling bill. More here http://www.vtrighttoknow.org/ .

Trade body Renewable UK has said that the wind power industry would create almost 80,000 new jobs in that period, taking the total number of employees in the sector to around 90,000 by 2020. And, in the shorter term in order to address the projected demand and skills gap, it pledges to create up to 2,000 places on specialist training courses by the end of 2013 to help people retrain within the sector and creating employment opportunities. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey welcomed the charter saying: “As an island, we have an abundance of free wind energy which we would be crazy not to harness. We have the opportunity to build a world leading wind energy industry”.

Three of the four big supermarkets in the UK have refused to publicly reveal how much food they throw away each year. According to Channel 4 news, Britain’s supermarkets collectively generate 300,000 tonnes of food waste every year, but Tesco, Asda and Morrison’s declined to disclose their individual figures when contacted by the news channel. Only Sainsbury’s was prepared to publish its food waste figures and told Channel 4 it generated about 44,000 tonnes of food waste in 2011.

A planned anaerobic digestion (AD) plant at Scottish ice cream manufacturer Mackie’s could save the firm up to £300k a year in energy costs, bolstering it’s already impressive renewable energy credentials.  The firm already has three 800kW wind turbines which supply 70% of the firm’s energy needs at its 1,600-acre Aberdeenshire site – as well as exporting 62% of their output to the national grid. A further 50kW of solar panels was added earlier this year, however, an AD plant would reduce reliance on wind or sunshine, allowing the company to power operations using only on-site renewable energy.

And finally, the Midcounties Co-operative has saved over £100,000 in waste disposal costs over the past 12 months due to an aggressive recycling drive.