Students around the world join climate strike on March 15

March 13, 2019 by  
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On Friday, March 15, tens of thousands of high school and middle school students in more than 70 countries plan to walk out of their classrooms and protest at town and city halls. Young people are uniting around the world in a coordinated demand for their leaders to take radical action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and slow down the impacts of climate change. How did the climate strikes start? The international youth climate strike movement began in August 2018 when 16-year-old environmental activist, Greta Thunberg skipped school to protest outside the Swedish Parliament. Since August, her actions caused a ripple effect throughout the world and snowballed the movement to include teens throughout the world. Related: 8 women leading the change for a better world Since Thunberg’s protest, students have similarly skipped out on school to hold up “Youth Climate Strike” and “School Strike for Climate” signs outside government buildings in the U.K., U.S., Japan, Uganda, Germany, Thailand, Switzerland and France, among others . Frustrated by inaction— or insufficient action— from politicians throughout their young lives, these students are panicked about the scientific predictions for the future and unwavering in their call for change. In New York, for example, 13-year-old Alexandria Villasenor has forgone her classes for the past twelve consecutive Fridays in order to sit outside the U.N. headquarters and protest. On Friday, March 15, thousands of others will join what the young people have virally hashtagged as #FridaysForFuture . Find a Climate Strike near you To date, there will be over 700 strikes in 71 countries, however the number continues to grow as rallies are added to the map. Check out this world-wide map  to see the incredible number of strikes across the globe. This U.S. climate strike map  is tracking all of the registered climate strikes in the U.S. Students are rallying around the hashtags #FridaysforFuture and #YouthClimateStrike , in honor of Thunberg and other student activists who have skipped school to protest for climate action in the past months. The strikes are supported by outspoken environmental groups such as the Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion. Climate Strike leaders are calling on students to walk out of their classes on Friday, March 15, to protest outside of the nearest town or city hall, and of course post a photo on social media. Not all students get a free pass Many of the U.S. climate strikes will take place at local House or Senate representatives’ offices where the youth plans to push for acceptance of the Green New Deal, a radical environmental proposal championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Similar protests have already met with dismay by representatives such as Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein, both Democrats from California, who feel the students are naively confident in the Green New Deal without understanding the complexities of politics and party relations. Related: Rep. Ocasio Cortez releases green new deal In the U.K., the Prime Minister condemned the climate strike as wasteful of teachers’ time. In Australia, despite support for the protests by labor unions, the Minister of Education announced that all students and teachers who leave school on Friday will be punished— to which Greta Thunberg quickly tweeted back “we don’t care.” Isra Hirsi, daughter of freshman Representative, Ilhan Omar (D-MN), is one of the young leaders of the behind U.S. climate strikes, but she also expressed concern about the movement’s lack of intersectionality– in other words its lack of recognition and inclusion of climate leaders from many different, overlapping and often disadvantaged, demographic groups. Early this week, Hirsi tweeted about the importance of recognizing that indigenous leaders, not young white students, have been leading climate activism long before these hashtags. What are the students asking for? The strikes are largely a response to a UN Framework Convention on Climate Change report, which indicates that the world has less than 12 years to implement radical change or the impacts of global warming will be devastating and irreversible. Mark Hertsgaard from The Nation wrote of the students: “They grasp what many of their elders apparently never learned: The climate struggle is not about having the best science, the smartest arguments, or the most bipartisan talking points. It is about power — specifically, the power that ExxonMobil and the rest of the fossil-fuel industry wield over governments and economies the world over, and their willingness to use that power to enforce a business model guaranteed to fry the planet.” While students around the world have different demands from their respective leaders, they are united in their call for swift and decisive action to curtail carbon emissions and for politicians to adopt firm environmental platforms. Such platforms, though, might look drastically different in each country. Columnist for The Guardian , George Monbiot, argued that the students must develop and articulate a clear position, or else he fears they will be divided, co-opted or worse– ineffective at ultimately influencing the actual legislation that will save their futures. Via The Nation Images via Mike Baumeister , niekverlaan

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Students around the world join climate strike on March 15

Taiwan introduces one of the world’s most comprehensive plastic bans

March 12, 2019 by  
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Taiwan aims to be completely free of plastic bags and all single-use plastic items, such as utensils and beverage cups, by 2030. But first, the straws. Starting this year, chain restaurants will be restricted from giving straws to customers for in-store use. Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Ying-Yuan Lee announced the new policy at a press conference last month. “”We aim to implement a blanket ban by 2030 to significantly reduce plastic waste that pollutes the ocean and also gets into the food chain to affect human health,” said Ying-Yuan Lee. Related: Simple tips to reduce single-use plastic Aspects of Taiwan’s new program will be phased in over the next decade. Retail stores will face fines for giving customers disposable food containers, utensils and plastic bags in 2020. By 2025, those fees will increase. As for straws, the new policy will first affect in-store diners, then later extend to carry-out. By 2030, the straw ban should be complete throughout Taiwan. Taiwan’s new plastic policy is among the farthest-reaching in the world, though other countries are also stepping up the war against plastic waste. Scotland has banned single-use straws. In Kenya, people caught producing or selling plastic bags face stiff fines and even jail time. Rwanda banned plastic bags all the way back in 2008. Cities around the world have enacted anti-plastic policies to try to put a dent in the 8 million metric tons of plastic that wind up in the oceans every year. A 2018 policy to severely decrease plastic bag use in Taiwan met great success. Starting January 1 of last year, businesses like pharmacies, bakeries and beverage shops could no longer offer customers free plastic bags. Follow-up research indicated that 70 percent of customers chose to forego buying plastic bags . The EPA minister isn’t losing any sleep over the despair of single-use straw devotees. “You can use steel products, or edible straws — or maybe you just don’t need to use straws at all,” Ying-Yuan Lee said. “There is no inconvenience caused at all.” + Environmental Protection Administration (Taiwan) Via Global Citizen Image via Hans Braxmeier

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Singapores new-build, first net-zero energy building opens its doors

March 12, 2019 by  
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Opened earlier this year, the newly completed NUS School of Design & Environment 4 (SDE4) is distinguished as Singapore’s first new-build, net-zero energy building school. Developed by the School of Design and Environment at the National University of Singapore and designed by Serie + Multiply Architects with Surbana Jurong , the six-story multidisciplinary building is located on a hillock along Clementi Road near the southern coastline of Singapore where it joins a larger campus redevelopment. Engineered to strict net-zero energy standards, the 8,500-square-meter building is powered with over 1,200 rooftop solar photovoltaic panels and features a climate-responsive design to stay naturally cool in the region’s tropical climate. Serie + Multiply Architects and Surbana Jurong won the bid for the academic building through an international design competition back in 2013 with their design of a porous structure meant to blur the boundaries between the indoors and outdoors. Instead of creating a hermetically sealed environment heavily reliant on AC—like many of Singapore’s buildings—the architects wanted to integrate Singapore’s lush tropics into the building. Not only do landscape views and natural ventilation penetrate the building, but nature has also been made part of the teaching curriculum, from the planting palette that incorporates many native species to the south gardens that serve as a natural purification system for stormwater runoff. SDE4 includes over 1,500 square meters of design studio space, a 500-square-meter open plaza, public and social spaces, workshops, research centers, a cafe and library. The rooms are designed for flexibility with layouts that can be rearranged to suit diverse usage. The net-zero energy building also takes inspiration from vernacular Southeast Asian tropical architecture with an abundance of verandas and shaded terraces. Natural ventilation is supplemented with an innovative hybrid cooling system that feeds rooms with 100% pre-cooled air that work in tandem with ceiling fans. Related: A green-roofed underground extension breaks the mold for school architecture “Buildings are not isolated entities in their own context,” Lam Khee Poh, Dean of the School of Design and Environment, explains. “They form an environment, a precinct, or a neighborhood supporting community activities, which is crucial for all educational institutions. Our students and faculty get the opportunity to learn both inside and outside the classroom , being engaged in an integrated process of designing, developing, constructing, and operating state-of-the-art buildings that will, in turn, influence them to adapt their own behavior when they occupy it.” + Serie + Multiply Architects + Surbana Jurong Images by Rory Gardiner

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Singapores new-build, first net-zero energy building opens its doors

TemperPack raises $40M to combat plastic foam waste

March 8, 2019 by  
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If you’ve purchased a TV or other appliance in the past few decades, you’ve experienced the massive chunks of polystyrene foam that came with it. Plastic foam as it is known, also commonly called by the brand name Styrofoam , has dominated the packaging and insulation industries for many years and brought with it tons of waste. Taking an estimated 500 years to break down, the product leaves much to be desired from a sustainability standpoint. There is no doubt that plastic foam is one of the least sustainable products on the market, yet it is still prevalent because it works so well. A newcomer to the market, TemperPack, has developed an eco-friendly option that hopes to eliminate the need for plastic foam altogether. Obviously, TemperPack is not alone in its desire to bring the product to market, as they have sourced around $40 million in funding to further develop the technology . Related: Jamaica will ban plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam by 2019 Longtime friends and now co-founders Brian Powers and James McGoff developed a patent-pending product called ClimaCell that is aimed at sustainability from production through the waste cycle. The company claims that the manufacturing produces 97 percent less carbon emissions than plastic foam manufacturing. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the ClimaCell is the ability to add it to curbside recycling where available. The company has taken the steps to obtain OCC-E certification, ensuring the product meets recycling standards equal to basic cardboard, which has an extraordinarily high recycle rate. The new product is set to replace large hunks and sheets of plastic foam with its cushioning capabilities. In addition, ClimaCell offers an alternative for disposable food shipping coolers while ensuring perishables arrive safely and remain cold during transport. Several thicknesses are available to cater to the different needs of businesses throughout seasonal and product changes. Using the technology in a similar way, TemperPack also produces a completely recyclable alternative to packing peanuts and bubble wrap for full-spectrum packaging and packing options. TemperPack aims to offer complete solutions to businesses in order to make it easier for them to lessen their environmental impact. In the end, its hopes to achieve its mission of solving packaging problems through sustainable design. High consuming industries include pharmaceutical and food companies with a need to keep products cold. The company estimates the use of ClimaCell has diverted 10 million pounds of plastic foam from the waste stream. + TemperPack Via Forbes Images via TemperPack

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TemperPack raises $40M to combat plastic foam waste

Vegan dog food company continues its international expansion

March 8, 2019 by  
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V-planet , the San Francisco-based company that manufactures 100 percent vegan products for dogs, has just expanded its market to Israel. Israeli shoppers can now buy vegan pet food through Vegpet , v-planet’s online store. Why Israel? “Israel is one of the most vegan-friendly countries in the world, with more self-identified vegans per capita than any other country,” said Lindsay Rubin, vice president of v-dog. “With so many consumers interested in transitioning their dogs to a vegan diet, expanding our brand to Israel to offer a high-quality option to dog parents seemed like a natural fit for our brand.” Since 2005, the vegan-owned and family-operated business has offered its plant-based kibble to a U.S. clientele. Its international expansion now makes v-dog available in Canada, Australia and Israel. Related: Can vegan pet food be good for the planet and your pet? Switching dogs to vegan kibble could have a significant effect on the planet. “A 2019 study stated that if dogs and cats were a country, they’d rank fifth in global meat consumption,” Rubin told Inhabitat. “Caring for a large dog is environmentally comparable to driving an SUV. Pets are responsible for a quarter of the greenhouse gases from animal agriculture. Just like a human choosing a plant-based lifestyle, a dog can significantly reduce their carbon pawprint by going vegan.” By contrast, plant-based ingredients naturally use significantly less land, water and energy than meat-based counterparts, she said. According to Rubin, vegan dogs thrive. Customers have reported reduced allergies , better digestion, less arthritis and other joint inflammation issues and better overall health and energy after switching their dogs to a vegan diet. Still, it is  important to talk with a veterinarian  before making drastic changes to your furry friend’s diet, as it must be done very cautiously. The brand hopes to grow internationally and is actively seeking additional distributors in more countries. “At v-planet, we’re passionate about nutritious, yummy products for dogs that are cruelty-free and environmentally sustainable,” Rubin said. “We hope that by continuing to expand v-planet’s availability, we can help more dogs and save more farmed animals.” + v-planet Images via v-dog / v-planet

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International Women’s Day Spotlight: Meet the 8 women leading the change for a better world

March 8, 2019 by  
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International Women’s Day is just one of the 365 days per year that it is important to recognize and celebrate the contributions and advancements female leaders have bestowed onto the environment, society and culture from around the world. While there are thousands of women who are fighting to help conserve and preserve our planet, below we highlight eight brave women from across the globe who are making headlines for their innovative impact in the environmental, conservation and sustainability fields. Melina Laboucan Massimo Indigenous Rights & Clean Energy Campaigner (Canada) Massimo , a member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation, grew up in a small community where the only jobs were in the oil and gas industry. Following a devastating oil spill that contaminated the water and land that her community depended on for generations, Massimo was inspired to take action. She is a Climate and Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace, journalist, film producer and an indigenous rights activist. She advocates for a equitable transition to clean and renewable energy sources that prioritize local jobs, ownership and environmental protection. Related: Women are essential to climate resilience in the Caribbean — here’s why Vandana Shiva Food Sovereignty Advocate (India) Shiva is an eco-activist and agroecologist who focuses on sustainable agriculture , local food systems and the working conditions of farm workers in India. She is a vocal opponent of genetically modified organisms and her work has helped preserve and prioritize indigenous seed diversity and traditional knowledge. Forbes named Shiva one of the Seven Most Powerful Women on the Globe. Christiana Figueres U.N. Leader and Climate Optimist (Costa Rica) Christiana Figueres was the driving force behind the monumental Paris Agreement of 2015, in which 195 nations signed on to legally-binding, time-bound commitments to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming . After serving as the Executive Secretary for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change from 2010 to 2016, Figueres turned her attention to speaking, writing and advising major companies on climate sustainability. Figueres also leads Mission 2020 and Global Optimism, organizations focused on making the world’s ambitious climate visions into a reality. She recently won the prestigious US$1 million Dan David Prize for her work in combating climate change. Paula Kahumbu Elephant Conservationist (Kenya) Kahumbu is the Executive Director of WildlifeDirect in Kenya and leader of a muti-year campaign to both raise awareness about elephant poaching and pass conservation legislation. Her local and international efforts to stem poaching from all angles have won her numerous awards, including the Whitley Award and the National Geographic Howard Buffet Award for conservation leadership in Africa. Basima Abdulrahman Green Re-Building Pioneer (Iraq) Abdulrahman is the Founder and CEO of Iraq’s first green design and construction consulting company. Her goal is to help her war-torn country build back in a way that is “sustainable, inclusive and economically productive through making buildings and infrastructures healthy, environmentally responsible, and resource-efficient.” Abdulrahman was the co-chair of the World Economic Forum in Davos, in January 2019. Related: Permaculture feeds and empowers refugees in Uganda Amy Jadesimi Sustainable Business Leader (Nigeria) Jadesimi is the CEO of a 100 percent Nigerian-owned Industrial Free Zone in Lagos. She is a trained medical doctor, entrepreneur and advocate for sustainable business as the only viable business model for progress. In 2018 she spoke at the U.N. about “the potential for private sector to take a lead in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.“ Jadesimi is confident that market growth in Africa, guided by the Sustainable Development Goals, is essential to provide jobs and improve environmental and social problems at the scale needed for a successful and sustainable future. Greta Thunberg Teen Climate Crusader (Sweden) In 2018, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg sat outside the Swedish Parliament for three weeks, demanding national leaders radically prioritize climate change . Since then, her example has launched a ripple-effect of youth protests in over 270 cities around the world. Faced with living out the impacts of climate change, young people are taking the lead to speak out for stronger commitment and follow-through from world leaders. The New Yorker called Greta a “voice of unaccommodating clarity.” Heba Al Farra Women in the Environment Sector Connector (Palestine) Al Farra was recognized as a UN Young Champion of the Earth  for her organization, Women in Energy & Environment at MENA Region (WEE), which is building a professional network for Middle Eastern and North African women working in environmental fields. WEE connects women with resources and a supportive community. An environmental engineer, Al Farra left Palestine for Kuwait when the violence in Gaza disrupted her studies and is dedicated to linking women from her home country with the skills they need to succeed professionally. Images via David Suzuki Foundation , Frank Schwichtenberg , UNclimatechange,   Pop Tech , World Economic Forum , Danish Maritime Days , UNEP , bones64 , Molly Adams , Shutterstock

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International Women’s Day Spotlight: Meet the 8 women leading the change for a better world

Cove launches the first 100% biodegradable water bottle

March 7, 2019 by  
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Officially launched in California on Feb. 28, 2019 and targeted to expand to new markets throughout the year, the Cove brand’s 100 percent biodegradable water bottles have become available as a sustainable plastic alternative. Cove offers an eco-friendly solution for water on the go at every phase of production and regardless of the disposal technique used. Single-use plastic water bottles have made the headlines in every fight for sustainability over the years for good reason — they are toxic for the environment. With the amount of plastic in the oceans as well as little hope of any plastic ever truly disappearing, it’s no wonder companies are looking for better ways to package our must-have water. While some companies have invested in plastic alternatives already, they each include metal, plastic or glass that needs to be separated out at the recycling stage. In contrast, the Cove water bottle sidesteps the recycling process altogether. Related: Everlane introduces long-lasting outerwear made from recycled water bottles Although it looks, feels and functions like regular plastic, the Cove water bottle is made from naturally occurring biopolymers called PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) that are biodegradable and compostable. These bottles break down into carbon dioxide, water and organic waste after being tossed into the compost or hauled to the landfill. They will even break down in the soil or the ocean with zero toxic byproducts. Construction of this innovative water bottle begins with a paper core. Attached to that is the PHA formed cylinder, cap and top dome. While the bottle might not last forever like its plastic counterparts, it is shelf-stable for six months. During that period, the bottle can also be reused . Currently, the Cove bottles are filled with natural spring water sourced from Palomar Mountain, California, for the initial launch. However, founder Alex Totterman believes that businesses have an environmental responsibility, so rather than shipping water across long distances, the company vows to source locally in each region as sales and availability spread across different markets. The idea behind the Cove water bottle is simple — produce an earth-friendly alternative to single-use plastic while keeping it convenient to the consumer. As we all know, people find it much easier to participate if the process is easy, and there is nothing easier than grabbing a bottle made from PHA instead of petroleum-based plastic. + Cove Via Packaging 360 Photography by Ryan Lowry and Sergiy Barchuk via Cove

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Cove launches the first 100% biodegradable water bottle

The Refill Shoppe enforces zero-waste packaging, provides bulk refill solutions for myriad household and beauty products

March 5, 2019 by  
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With the nearly constant conversation about zero waste and minimization in general, single use packaging is a hot topic. For many consumables, customers don’t seem to have many options in avoiding packaging waste. Think about the liquid products in your home and you’ll know what we’re talking about here. Shampoo bottles, hand soap containers, dish soap, cleaners, bubble bath and massage oils are just a few commonly-used items that come to mind. One company has taken a stand against single-use packaging and now provides a refill service so you can use your favorite containers again and again…and again, without the waste of individual bottles. The Refill Shoppe opened their flagship store in Ventura, California in 2010 with the idea that customers should have a place to refill regularly-used products. Think of it as a bulk section for household liquids. The founder, Michelle Stevens admits that she wasn’t sure people would buy into the business model. After all, it was a relatively new idea in this era of convenient consumables. But it didn’t take long for people to find out about the business and begin frequenting the location. Related: Oregon initiates first modern statewide refillable glass bottle system in the US The idea took off and now the company offers an online, mail-order options so you can order refills from the comfort of your home, even if you don’t live near the store. The process is as simple as any other form of online shopping. After scouring the website, customers choose the products they want and select their favorite scents. Up to six scents can be combined for variety. If you don’t already have an adorable bottle that you’re looking to refill , you can choose one from the site. Otherwise, you order will be refill pouches filled with your favorite product. Whether you bring your own container into the store or request a mail order, all ingredients are charged by the ounce. In-store, you can even bring a partially-full bottle . You simply weigh it with the contents before adding more and then weigh it again to calculate the amount of product you’re buying. For mail order, all per-ounce prices are listed on the site. Shipping fees are a flat rate $7 or free for orders over $100 throughout the continental U.S. They also ship to Hawaii, Alaska, Canada and Mexico for an additional charge. The website offers hundreds of products you likely use daily. Bathing and beauty products include face wash, shampoo, scrubs, salts and lotions, but they also offer sponges, brushes and mitts to apply the products. For the home you can find dishwashing liquids, laundry products and even yoga mat sanitizer, alongside reusable containers and other zero-waste products. They also stock cleaning products and eco-friendly supplies like wool dryer balls and burlap gift wrap. They even have men’s care, perfume and baby products. The Refill Shoppe realizes that no business model is perfect for the environment but they focus on doing everything they can to operate with a low-carbon footprint . All refill pouches are reusable , so after you’ve emptied the contents into your favorite container at home, simply drop it back into the pre-paid envelope and send it back, where it is sterilized and refilled for the next customer. All packing materials are reused and they try to use paper products exclusively. For packaging glass bottles, however,  they do employ pre-used bubble wrap. Because transportation emissions are a major eco-no-no in general, the company relies on USPS in an effort to deliver using regular, already-traveled routes. This avoids sending trucks out on special routes that increase emissions . Another way the company reduces transportation issues is with domestic production. With the exception of Himalayan bath salts, all items are produced in the United States. Related: Some of the largest manufacturers are going green with the milkman model   In addition to reducing waste, the company aims to provide products that are eco-friendly , cruelty-free, mostly vegan (with the exception of honey and beeswax in a few products), mostly gluten free, although items are manufactured in a facility that handles gluten, 99.7 percent GMO free, and proudly void of a host of toxins commonly used in other cleaners and beauty products. For their efforts, The Refill Shoppe has passed the qualifications to become a Certified B Corporation. This stamp of approval means they’ve passed rigorous standards of environmental and social responsibility up and down the supply and customer chain. In fact, the company has been recognized with awards and accolades by many notable agencies such as the Ventura County Reporter, Ventura County Board of Supervisors, California Air Resources Board, State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and the California Resource Recovery Association. In a country a long way from leading the planet in sustainable practices, companies like The Refill Shoppe not only offer an alternative for those aiming to live more sustainably, but also bring awareness to an industry currently guilty of significant plastic waste . + The Refill Shoppe Images via The Refill Shoppe

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The Refill Shoppe enforces zero-waste packaging, provides bulk refill solutions for myriad household and beauty products

How to Plan Home Energy Upgrades Based on an Energy Audit

March 4, 2019 by  
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Did you know that homes and businesses use 40 percent … The post How to Plan Home Energy Upgrades Based on an Energy Audit appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How to Plan Home Energy Upgrades Based on an Energy Audit

What we talk about when we talk about the circular economy

February 26, 2019 by  
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What’s the right way to measure progress? The World Business Council for Sustainable Development is framing out one possible method.

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