Starbucks to start charging for disposable cups

January 9, 2018 by  
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2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are tossed away every single year in the United Kingdom, according to Member of Parliament (MP) Mary Creagh , and Starbucks is planning a new initiative to see if they can persuade drinkers to switch to reusable cups . In 20 to 25 central London locations, they’ll charge five British pennies for a disposable cup and then donate the resulting funds to the Hubbub Foundation for a behavior change study. Will a 5-pence (p) charge convince Londoners to drink their Starbucks in reusable cups? The coffee chain hopes to find out with a three-month-long trial commencing in February. In a statement , they detailed their efforts to influence coffee drinkers to make the change, from implementing a 10p incentive in 1998 to a 50p discount in 2016, but say a mere 1.8 percent of their customers are using reusable cups. Related: This giant Cup Monster wants Starbucks to use recyclable cups It seems they have a motivation to try something new. MPs want a 25p latte levy – and a total ban on disposable cups by 2023 if they aren’t all getting recycled . Starbucks’ disposable cup isn’t easily recyclable due to a thin layer of plastic to help keep a beverage hot. Creagh, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said the UK’s 2.5 billion thrown-away disposable cups could circle the Earth five and a half times, saying, “Almost none are recycled and half a million a day are littered. Coffee cup producers and distributors have not taken action to rectify this and the government has sat on its hands.” Starbucks said they’d boost efforts to ensure customers drinking coffee in their shops are offered a ceramic option, as well as reminding customers about the 25p discount for using a reusable cup with in-store marketing. The 5p charge money will go towards a study to help the chain better understand how they can encourage people to choose reusable cups. Via the BBC , Starbucks , and Inc. Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Starbucks to start charging for disposable cups

China is spending over $500 billion to expand high-speed rail

January 2, 2017 by  
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China is planning some serious upgrades to its public transportation system in the next few years. By 2020, the country hopes to have increased its high-speed railway coverage by 18,650 miles. The project will cost an estimated 3.5 trillion yuan, or about $503 billion USD. Not only will the population be more mobile, but the rails will significantly cut down on carbon emissions and air pollution. Adding on 18,650 miles to a railway system is a humongous feat and difficult to comprehend. The expansion would be roughly the equivalent of driving from New York City to Los Angeles six and a half times. It will also connect 80 percent of the country’s biggest cities and leave room for further rural expansion. Related: Chinese firm aiming for world record with 373 mph maglev train Much of the existing and future high-speed rails are located in coastal and eastern regions of China. Yet, access to the west and poorer regions of the country are being considered for future investments, despite the fact that they will not be as profitable. “We believe these railway lines will break even over time as the flow of people and goods experience fast growth,” said Yang Yudong, administrator of the National Railway Administration. As a global observer, one of the most appealing aspects of the project is how much air pollution will be slashed by connecting a bustling population to efficient public transit. China has been battling smog for decades, and taking vehicles off the streets could be the piece of the puzzle needed to make lasting improvements. Via Clean Technica Images via Wikipedia , Wikimedia

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China is spending over $500 billion to expand high-speed rail

Bowl-shaped roofs harvest rainwater and promote natural cooling in arid environments

January 2, 2017 by  
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Water scarcity is felt unequally throughout the world with some regions worse off than others. Iran-based BMDesign Studios addressed their home country’s arid climates with an architectural solution to water shortages called Concave Roof, a double-roof system designed to collect and store rainwater, and promote natural cooling. The Concave Roof was engineered for arid environments, where rainwater collection can be tricky due to higher than average evaporation rates and low annual precipitation. The double-roof system, which includes a domed roof beneath a bowl-shaped catchment area, is designed to “help [make] even the smallest quantities of rain [flow down] the roof and eventually coalesce into bigger drops, just right for harvesting before they evaporate,” said the architects to ArchDaily . Stacking a concave roof atop a convex roof promotes natural cooling through shade and wind movement between the two roofs. Related: Rammed earth house blends traditional materials with modern techniques in Vietnam’s last frontier The bowl-shaped catchment area is steeply sloped to move raindrops towards a central collection point, where the rain is funneled into reservoirs . The reservoirs are placed between building walls to help regulate indoor temperatures. With this system, the architects estimate that 28 cubic meters of water could be harvested with just 923 square meters of a concave roof surface. BMDesign Studios’ vision also goes beyond the double-roof system and includes a massing design where the buildings and courtyards are sunken to promote natural cooling. The buildings would be organized around atriums to promote circulation and community. + BMDesign Studios Via ArchDaily Images via BMDesign Studios

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Bowl-shaped roofs harvest rainwater and promote natural cooling in arid environments

Michigan just made it illegal for cities to ban plastic bags

January 2, 2017 by  
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Michigan just passed a new law that prohibits local governments from banning, regulating, or taxing the use of plastic bags and other containers. That’s right: it’s a statewide ban on banning plastic bags . The law was likely aimed at shutting down a local ordinance in Ann Arbor’s Washtenaw County, which would have instituted a 10 cent fee on grocery store bags. Plastic bag bans, of course, are intended to help keep pollution out of the environment. The flimsy plastic bags used in many grocery stores are not biodegradable and tend to find their way into waterways and the ocean, where they break down into smaller pieces that poison fish, seabirds, and marine animals. Even worse, they can take hundreds of years to break down in the environment – or even longer in a landfill . Related: Morocco just officially banned plastic bags Given the environmental impact, what possible reason could Michigan have for shutting down plastic bag bans within the state? In a word: money. Businesses complain that bans or taxes on bags are simply too high a burden for their everyday operations. Michigan isn’t the only state to have taken this approach, either: Idaho, Arizona, and Missouri have all enacted similar laws in recent years. Hopefully, as plastic bag bans become more common, it will become clear that industry claims about the cost and complexity of implementing the bans simply aren’t true. So far in the US, plastic bags have already been banned throughout California and in cities including Portland, Seattle, Austin, and Chicago. If these major cities and the country’s largest state can adapt to paper and reusable bags, surely Michigan could do so as well. Via The Washington Post Images via Randy Wick and Eric

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Michigan just made it illegal for cities to ban plastic bags

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