How the EU’s new ‘toxic-free’ vision could shape your safer chemicals strategy

January 14, 2021 by  
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How the EU’s new ‘toxic-free’ vision could shape your safer chemicals strategy Bob Kerr Thu, 01/14/2021 – 01:00 For the last two decades, the European Union has played a leadership role in tackling the risks hazardous chemicals pose to our health and environment. It has now proposed a new vision for a “toxic-free environment” and published a strategy for moving the EU towards that goal. Just as its current policies have inspired imitation, it’s likely that these new policies will drive significant changes in the U.S. and elsewhere. While EU chemical restrictions have gained limited traction in U.S. federal statutes and regulations, many state laws increasingly rely on the chemical hazard criteria and analyses from REACH (the principal European chemical regulation) and other EU laws and regulations. California legislation, for example, prohibits sale of electronic products that would be subject to the EU Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive if amounts of cadmium, lead, mercury or hexavalent chrome in those products exceed EU RoHS limits . Many U.S. companies base their restrictions on hazardous chemicals on EU lists or restrictions such as the Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) under REACH — even where unregulated in the U.S. The EU plans to promote safer substitutes or eliminate the need for chemical additives in some products altogether, so they do not end up being circulated indefinitely in commerce. The EU chemical regulation footprint is also strong in the rest of the world. Several countries in Asia, including China, the world’s largest chemical producer, have developed national chemical regulatory programs strongly influenced by the EU’s design. As the EU moves toward adopting specific legal and regulatory measures to begin to realize its vision, government agencies in the U.S. will look closely at the potential for adopting elements of the new EU programs. Beyond the regulatory world, many leading companies already at the forefront of looking to provide safer chemicals — including Walmart , Apple and Ahold Delhaize USA  — are likely to move toward adoption of components of the new EU policies, with ramifications for supply chains and potential competitive benefits in the consumer marketplace. EU’s new chemical policy vision Despite the successes of its current regulatory framework, the European Commission has found that “the existing EU chemicals policy must evolve and respond more rapidly and effectively to the challenges posed by hazardous chemicals.” In October, the commission published ” Chemical Strategy for Sustainability: Towards a Toxic-Free Environment .” To meet that vision, the EU plans a fundamental change in how chemical regulations manage the production and use of chemicals.  As explained by Frans Timmermans, commission vice president responsible for EU’s Green Deal, the EU intends to move away from an approach to chemical regulation that depends primarily on tracking down substances that are hazardous only after they’re already being used in products, even when similar to previously restricted substances. Rather, it will focus on prohibiting their use in the first place: One of the first actions we will take is to ensure that the most harmful chemicals no longer find their way into consumer products. In most cases, we now assess these chemicals one-by-one — and remove them when we find out that they are unsafe. We will just flip this logic on its head. Instead of reacting, we want to prevent. As a rule, the use of the most harmful substances will be prohibited in consumer products. Further, the new EU chemical strategy identifies a wide array of initiatives for realizing its goal of a toxic-free environment. Some are specific to the EU, including EU support for development of innovative green chemistry materials. Others are measures with general applicability for government regulatory agencies or company sustainable chemistry initiatives. Among the key measures are: Extending hazard-based approach to risk management for consumer products: The goal is to ensure consumer products, such as toys, cosmetics, cleaning products, children’s care products and food contact materials, do not contain chemicals that may cause cancer, gene mutations, neurological or respiratory damage or that may interfere with endocrine or reproductive systems. Grouping of chemicals for assessment of hazards and restrictions: Under most regulations, both in the EU and U.S., chemicals are usually assessed and regulated one-by-one. The European Commission plans to address PFAS and other chemicals of concern with a group approach. New hazard categories: The commission plans to finalize a legally binding hazard definition of endocrine disruptors and, to address classes of chemicals recognized as posing serious environmental risks, introduce two new categories of substances of very high concern (SVHCs): persistent; mobile and toxic (PMT); and very persistent and very mobile (vPvM) substances. Accounting for combinative impacts of multiple chemicals on health: Increasing evidence points to the risks from simultaneous exposure to multiple chemicals. The commission plans to integrate requirements for information on the impacts of chemical mixtures more formally into chemical risk assessment requirements. These above approaches are in some leading corporate safer chemical programs and, with clarity from the EU, they should be considered by more companies. IKEA , for example, bans use in its products of some chemical groups (PFAS, organic brominated flame retardants) and hazard classes of chemicals (carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins and any REACH SVHCs). Beyond its direct effects on protecting health of consumers and reducing toxic chemicals in the environment, the chemical strategy is a key component in the EU’s path towards a circular economy that conserves materials and reduces waste. A critical barrier to circular production models for many products and materials is contamination with hazardous chemicals — either inadvertently added during sourcing and processing or intentionally added to change the product. Through the chemical strategy, the EU plans to promote safer substitutes (the replacement of ortho-phthalates with non-hazardous plasticizers) or eliminate the need for chemical additives in some products altogether, so they do not end up being circulated indefinitely in commerce.  The EU has outlined a leading safer chemicals strategy that companies can begin to apply to their own operations. Tools such as the Chemical Footprint Project survey and other benchmarking tools can help support these initiatives. Companies that take the lead in adapting their planning to the EU strategy will be ahead of EU requirements, mitigate future supply chain and product risks and operate in the best interest of consumers and the environment. Pull Quote The EU plans to promote safer substitutes or eliminate the need for chemical additives in some products altogether, so they do not end up being circulated indefinitely in commerce. Topics Chemicals & Toxics Circular Economy Policy & Politics European Union Collective Insight The Right Chemistry Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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50 countries pledge to conserve 30% of land and water

January 12, 2021 by  
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The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People has made a pledge to protect 30% of the land and water on Earth by 2030 to slow destruction of nature and species extinctions. The pledge was made public last Monday during the One Planet Summit in Paris. HAC is a coalition of more than 50 countries that was formed in 2011 to encourage internal action on the climate crisis prior to the Paris Agreement. The coalition is currently co-chaired by three countries: France, the U.K., and Costa Rica. It was formed in Durban in 2011 and has been at the forefront of encouraging international action on the climate crisis. The coalition is promoting actions against biodiversity loss and hopes that the pledge will lead to a successful conservation agreement during the Cop15 2021 summit in China. Related: Polar bears could go extinct in 80 years if global warming persists In their pledge, the countries have agreed to reserve at least 30% of the planet’s land and water as natural habitats. While making the announcement, HAC noted that protecting 30% of the planet by the turn of the decade is necessary to prevent mass extinction of plant and animal species. On Monday, several world leaders met at the One Planet Summit in Paris to discuss the biodiversity crisis and promotion of archeology as well as to examine the relationship between human health and nature . The event was addressed by various world leaders, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Besides the pledge to protect 30% of the planet, several countries in the coalition also made pledges to fund nature conservation projects. The coalition has pledged to invest billions of pounds in the  Great Green Wall of Africa  project and the launch of the new  Terra Carta  by Prince Charles. The coalition’s pledges have been applauded but also met by some criticism from various environmentalists. Many emphasized that the commitment needs to be met with actual efforts and delivery. Greenpeace U.K.’s head of politics Rebecca Newsom explained that there are also concerns about the source of funds being pledged by countries such as the U.K. Newsom argued that the funds should not be cut from budgets already allocated for other environmental projects. “Increasing funds to protect and enhance nature is critical to help secure success at the global biodiversity conference in China this year,” Newsom said. “Siphoning off cash from funds already committed to tackling the climate crisis simply isn’t enough.” Via The Guardian Image via Pauline Bernfeld

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Futuristic aviary design uses piezoelectric energy to mimic bird movements

January 7, 2021 by  
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A combination aviary and bird-watching platform in China’s Suzhou Taihu Lakeside National Wetland Park, this stunning conceptual design by Margot Krasojevi? Architecture utilizes piezoelectric energy to move parts of the structure, mimicking birds in flight. At the heart of the dome, a high tensile steel loom acts as a gallery for birds, while the primary structure is made from stainless steel spine beams that move and sway like feathers. Piezoelectric cells are connected to a motor that harnesses movement to produce an electrical current, making the entire structure self-sufficient. The cells then respond to the overall mechanical stress generated by the structure and create an electric charge, which in turn runs through a dichroic filtered electrochromic glass modifying the transparency and luminosity of the facade. Responding directly to the density of bird movement, the facade appears to “flutter” as the environment changes. Related: Abandoned amusement park to gain new life as a nature park in Suzhou Thanks to the reflective, fluttering facade, the structure appears to partially disappear into its wetland surroundings. The dome protects birds from flying into the glass cladding by projecting ultrasound signals from the surface. Extra electrical energy generated by the piezoelectric cells is used to control the dome’s temperature, humidity and building filtration, allowing the structure to essentially dictate its own ecosystem. The humidity is filtered and ecologically purified to be pumped back into the surrounding wetlands through the aviary’s dome.  Visitors are led into the wetlands and connected to the building entrance through a helical ramp that unfolds across the aviary. This hydraulic runway ramp glides along within the building, rather than touching the building envelope, to guide visitors as they walk among the birds. The ramp can lower and raise to take visitors to different heights within the interior; this can offer clearer views. The pile grid is anchored through concrete to enable it to rise and fall according to the substructure movement, all while maintaining equilibrium inside the aviary. + Margot Krasojevi? Architecture Images via Margot Krasojevi?

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Futuristic aviary design uses piezoelectric energy to mimic bird movements

Australian government stumbles in climate crisis response

December 30, 2020 by  
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The Australian government appears conflicted in its efforts to adopt environmentally progressive policies following the country’s recent bushfires and record temperatures. A recent Australian Institute  survey  shows that private sector leaders and the general public favor a comprehensive climate policy with renewable energy investments. However, Prime minister Scott Morrison and his administration remain tied to the fossil fuel industry, making it hard for the country to progress.  Currently, Australia is one of the heaviest greenhouse gas emitters. The country continues lagging behind Paris Agreement goals that aimed to reduce fossil fuel pollution by at least 26% come mid-century. Even these goals are now outdated, though, with several other countries having signed onto updated agreements. Australia contributes  three times  more greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere than the G20 average emissions. To make matters worse, Australia is one of the global leaders that has not committed to a clear climate change policy; the U.K., U.S., Japan and China have all committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  While the Australian government slowly finds its way to green energy, the public sector and individual states are keen to lead the way. As CNN reports, “In November, New South Wales announced a plan to support 12 gigawatts of wind and solar and 2 gigawatts of energy storage through the construction of renewable energy zone to replace its aging coal plants.” Additionally, the two richest people in Australia are backing a project to create the world’s largest solar farm. The private sector and individual states see green energy as an economic opportunity. “Australia has a plan to put the technology in place to reduce emissions and ensure we achieve the Kyoto commitments, as we already have demonstrated, and, importantly, the Paris commitments before us. What matters is what you get done, and Australia is getting it done on emissions reduction,” Morrison  said  while addressing parliament on December 10. However, his words and actions are a complete contrast. Morrison’s government has already announced a gas -based economic recovery plan post-COVID-19. His government also authorized the exploration of Carmichael mines in Queensland. Climate experts view these coal mines as a threat to the Great Barrier Reef due to carbon pollution. Experts advise phasing out coal power in all countries by 2040 to avoid catastrophic climate change . In contrast, Australia is set to experience a 4% increase in coal mining by 2030 — unless actions are taken to stop current and new explorations. No matter how hard the private sector and individual states try to cut emissions, they can’t succeed on a large scale without proper government policy. + CNN Image via John Englart

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Save energy and money with these eco-friendly tips for winter

December 30, 2020 by  
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Whether winter conjures thoughts of cozy fires and hot cocoa or trudging through snow and ice on the way to work, it’s essential to have a plan for coping with the season in a sustainable way. Here are some tips to saving energy, water and money while staying toasty and warm all winter long. Heat and electricity bills Not only will the bills add up as you bump up the heat, but so does energy consumption. Create a more Earth-friendly indoor environment by keeping your heating and electrical costs down. Remember the basics, like unplugging chargers and small appliances when not in use. Put your holiday and winter lights on a timer. Turn out the lights when you leave the room. Related: 7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home Add layers of clothing before heading to the thermostat. Bundling up can save you a bundle in heating costs. Also invest in a digital thermostat and set it to a lower temperature at night and while you’re away during the day. A simple way to spin more warm air into the living space is to flip the switch on the side of your ceiling fans. When they spin clockwise, they push warm air from the top of the room to the bottom. To really improve energy efficiency in your space, consider additional insulation around door and window openings, such rolled towels or a draft snake under door cracks, and an added layer of eco-friendly insulation in the attic, walls or basement. Maintain your furnace. Regular maintenance results in better efficiency and longevity for your home’s heat source. It’s always important to regularly replace your furnace filter, but make it a priority during the winter when the appliance is blowing more often. Snow and ice Depending on where you live, snow and ice may be part of your daily routine or only appear on occasion. When they do, avoid the chemical-laden deicers; use natural kitty litter or sand instead. Skip the gas-powered and polluting snow blowers. Instead, use an electric snow blower. Better yet, get the family out for a good old-fashioned snow removal with shovels and brooms. Water Many people focus on water savings during the summer, but few emphasize it during the winter when we’re not watering lawns. However, winter brings bulkier clothing that results in more laundry, the temptation for long showers or baths on cold days and the potential for broken pipes.  Check your water consumption by setting a timer for the shower and only run the washing machine and dishwasher when they are full. Turn off the water supply and winterize the automatic sprinklers, AC units and RV plumbing. Recycle the water you do use by cooling the pot of water after cooking pasta or by collecting water in the shower. Use this to water indoor plants. For an added layer of efficiency, add a water recycling system to your house where the laundry or shower can provide water for the toilet. Take advantage of rainy weather by having those rain barrels ready to collect and store water you’ll be using in a few months. Compost By the time gardening season rolls around, the compost from last summer will be ready to use. But you can continue to build your compost pile throughout the winter, too. It won’t break down as quickly as it does in the hotter months, but there’s no reason to trash tree trimmings, leaves or food scraps. If your compost pile is inaccessible, you can at least collect food scraps in a container in the freezer to add to the pile later. Transportation Slick roads and dangerous driving conditions make winter the perfect time to rely on public transportation. Dust off the bus pass or start using the subway and let someone else do the driving while reducing air pollution from carbon emissions.  If public transportation isn’t an option, do your part by ensuring your car is maintained. Change your oil along with cabin and engine air filters. Replace spark plugs, hoses and fuel filters at recommended intervals. Ensure that your tires are properly inflated. The more efficiently your car functions, the less gas it will require and the less emissions it will release. Waste When you’re ready to warm up with a hot cup of coffee or tea, opt to make your drinks at home in your reusable mugs. When you head for the store or if you shop online, be mindful of packaging. Find retailers that offer sustainable packaging options instead of plastic foam (like Styrofoam) and plastic . Remember your reusable produce and shopping bags when you head to the store or garden stand, so you can buy fresh fruits and veggies without the plastic waste . Efficient kitchens Keep your refrigerator running efficiently by vacuuming out the vents along the bottom. Deice your freezer if it doesn’t have an auto-defrost option. Keep the blender, coffee maker and toaster unplugged when not in use, and leave the oven door open after use to release the warm air into your home. Create a more sustainable coffee station by ditching the single-use plastic coffee pods in favor of a reusable version. Better yet, convert to a ceramic drip or French press, skipping the waste and composting the leftover coffee grounds. Winter is soup season , meaning it is the perfect time to use up a variety of vegetables and incorporate a meat-free dinner at least once each week. Stay cozy! Images via Pixabay and Unsplash

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Save energy and money with these eco-friendly tips for winter

Prefab timber home prototype pops up in just 5 days

December 29, 2020 by  
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Modular, transportable and built entirely with locally sourced timber, the prefab Proto-Habitat is an exercise in sustainable living. French design studio Wald.City designed and built the prototype project as part of a one-year research program at the French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici to explore new forms of housing. The 60-square-meter (approximately 645 square feet) abode is scalable and adaptable to a variety of settings and can be used for everything from individual housing to collective buildings. As part of its focus on sustainable design, the Proto-Habitat was constructed with 100% timber materials sourced within 500 kilometers of Bordeaux in southwestern France. Products were carefully chosen from local industries that follow responsible waste management and sustainable forestry practices. The use of wood is celebrated throughout the structure, which features a minimalist and contemporary design. Related: Prefab holiday cabins appear to float among misty tea fields in China Designed with mobility in mind, the base unit of the modular Proto-Habitat can be assembled in just five days by three people and a truck crane. That means there is no need for a foundation. The base module comprises an open-plan ground floor of 30 square meters, a mezzanine of 15 square meters and a 30-square-meter elevated sunroom that is tucked beneath the curved roof. The flexible layout allows the structure to be adapted and expanded to meet a variety of uses and settings. “Shifting the role of the architect to ‘facilitator,’ the prototype and research aim to elaborate new forms and spaces to live together, and alternative financing methods,” the architects explained in a project statement. “This first project tries to develop a possible answer for the contemporary needs of flexibility, close relationships between home and office . It is a prototype to create new social relationships, new forms of commons, and redefining in housing standards what comfort, minimalism, and appropriation could be.” + Wald.City Images via Wald.City

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San Francisco Bay could make the perfect sea otter habitat

December 29, 2020 by  
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San Francisco Bay could become the new home to extinction-threatened sea otters, according to a  recent report  published in PeerJ. Although the bay is located in the middle of a major urban area, it may still offer a suitable environment for the otters. While most parts of the bay may not suit wild animals, some sections manage to meet the requirements for a conducive sea otter habitat.  Sea otters have struggled to grow in numbers due to increased shark attacks along California’s central coast, which has been their home for decades. In the early 1900s, people hunted otters to the brink of extinction due to their luxury fur. However, protection measures enacted in 1911 helped the otter population grow to about 3,000 by 2020. Unfortunately, their population seems to have stagnated over the past decade due to increased shark attacks. To help the otter population continue growing, wildlife managers have looked at alternative residences in pockets of coastal waters. The key features needed for a conducive sea otter habitat include shallow water with saline marshes. According to Jane Rudebusch, the lead author of the study and a spatial ecologist at San Francisco State University’s Estuary & Ocean Science Center, the findings surprised the scientific community. At the start of the study, researchers did not expect the busy shoreline to accommodate such delicate animals. In the study, the researchers used existing data to create a map of the bay area, providing a clear picture of areas the animals could inhabit safely. “A large part of the north bay is a sweet spot,” Rudebusch says. As Scientific American further explains, “Much of this area is only about three feet deep and has ample salt marsh in protected areas, including China Camp State Park and the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.” While the study identifies areas perfect for sea otters, some question food abundance for the animals. One 2019 study published in  PeerJ suggested  that the entire bay area contains enough food for about 6,600 sea otters. However, the study did not map the parts of the bay where the food can be obtained. Rudebusch says that the study findings are just the beginning. More research must be done before wildlife managers think of moving the otters to the area.  + Scientific American Image via Pixabay

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Animal activist impersonates Smithfield CEO on Fox News

December 29, 2020 by  
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Activist Matt Johnson won great acclaim from  animal rights  supporters by pulling off a neat trick: fooling Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo into interviewing him as Dennis Organ, the new CEO of Smithfield Foods, on her show last Wednesday. The prank went on for six minutes before Bartiromo caught on that something was gravely amiss. Unfortunately, those who want to watch the full hilarious video on  YouTube  are now blocked by the message, “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Fox Business Network (Fox Corporation).” However, you can find clips from the interview in a CNN video  here .  Related: Can robot dolphins replace real ones in marine parks? Bartiromo started the interview by asking Johnson about conditions at “his” company’s  South Dakota  pork processing plant, the site of the country’s worst COVID-19 cluster early in the pandemic. Johnson was respectful when talking about the workers, nearly 1,300 of whom contracted the disease, and four of whom died. In September, the U.S. Department of Labor fined the company $13,494 for failing to protect its employees — a fine which Smithfield contested. As the interview progressed, Johnson said Smithfield was taking responsibility for the awful conditions its workers endure. “The truth is that our industry, in addition to the outbreaks that are happening at our plants, our industry poses a serious threat in effectively bringing on the next  pandemic ,” he said during the interview. He described Smithfield’s farms as “petri dishes for new diseases” and said hog farming “causes immense damage to our air and waterways.” While Smithfield Foods was founded in 1936 in Virginia, Chinese company WH Group, formerly known as Shuanghui International, bought it in 2013 for $4.7 billion. Johnson pledged “half a billion dollars a year starting in 2021” on behalf of WH Group to mitigate the environmental devastation of the  meat  industry. Perhaps this was the statement that led to Bartiromo finally recognizing the prank. At the end of her show, she issued a “very important correction,” calling Johnson an imposter who made false claims about Smithfield. In Bartiromo’s own words, “It appears that we have been punked.” Matt Johnson is actually the press coordinator for  Direct Action Everywhere . The  Smithfield  prank was part of the organization’s No More Factory Farms campaign. “A pandemic is ravaging global society, the sky is practically on fire, slaughterhouse workers are dying, and billions of  animals  are suffering needlessly,” Johnson said in a statement. “The signs could not be clearer. We must take bold action now.” Via The Daily Beast and CBS News Image via LinkedinEditors

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ZHA unveils a low-carbon Shenzhen Science and Technology Museum

December 21, 2020 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects has unveiled renders for the future Shenzhen Science & Technology Museum, an organically inspired, U-shaped museum that will not only raise Shenzhen’s reputation as a global leader in innovation and technology but also serve as a sustainable benchmark for civic architecture in the southern Chinese city. Located within Guangming Science City in northwestern Shenzhen, the new museum will be connected with universities, schools and innovation centers across China to become an important center for youth education. Currently under construction, the low-carbon and energy-efficient museum is expected to achieve the highest Three-Star rating of China’s Green Building Evaluation Standard.  Conceived as a “pearl” in the Guangzhou- Shenzhen Science Technology Innovation Corridor, the Shenzhen Science & Technology Museum will span an area of approximately 125,000 square meters. The museum will offer a series of interconnecting public spaces, galleries and educational facilities clustered around an atrium courtyard at the heart of the building. Related: Green-roofed theater in Shenzhen raises the bar for civic architecture “Incorporating maximum adaptability as a basic design principle, the geometries, proportions and spatial experience of each gallery will offer visitors a rich and varied experience each time they visit,” ZHA explained. “While some galleries can remain familiar and unchanged, others will change according to the type of exhibition showing at the time.” The museum’s fluid lines and curvaceous form is informed by its program and open circulation as well as its immediate surroundings. The western end, for instance, is designed to frame the adjacent Guangming Park. The architects have also crafted the building’s form and orientation in response to results from computer modeling and wind tunnel testing for optimal thermal performance, natural lighting, wind levels and air quality. The energy-efficient museum will be fortified with high-performance thermal insulation along with high-efficiency glazing, HVAC, lighting and smart building management systems. The Shenzhen Science & Technology Museum is slated for completion in late 2023. + Zaha Hadid Architects Images via Brick, Slashcube and ZHA

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London tree rental service solves a Christmas quandary

December 9, 2020 by  
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People who like to decorate their houses for Christmas often face a tree dilemma: should they buy an artificial, plastic tree or a real, dead one? Now, a new U.K. business saves Londoners from that choice. London Christmas Tree Rental delivers a real, pot-grown tree, lets customers enjoy it for a few weeks, then picks it up in January and takes it back to a farm, where the tree can continue to grow. The tree rental service has enjoyed a roaring success this year. By the first week of December, it was sold out of all four tree sizes, from the three-footer to the six-footer. Related: Amazon’s Christmas trees are hurting the environment It’s a lucrative side business for owners Catherine Loveless and Jonathan Mearns, who co-founded the company in 2018. “It all started when walking the streets of London in January and weaving between the Christmas tree graveyards that Jonathan decided enough was enough,” the company’s website reads. “With 7 million trees going into landfill each year for the sake of 3 weeks of pleasure there must be a better way to do Christmas trees.” Rental prices range from about 40 to 70 British pounds, or about $53 to $93 in U.S. dollars. Add in 10 pounds (about $13) each way for delivery and pickup, plus a 30 pound (about $40) deposit, and the rental tree can cost more than many cut or artificial trees. Still, it is a more sustainable option, plus trees that are well-cared for will result in a deposit refund. Customers also have the option for free tree pick-up and drop-off. Tree rental lets consumers feel good about the sustainability of their choices. While artificial trees may be reused for many years, they have a significant environmental cost. “In the U.S., around 10 million artificial trees are purchased each season,” according to the Nature Conservancy. “Nearly 90 percent of them are shipped across the world from China, resulting in an increase of carbon emissions and resources. And because of the material they are made of, most artificial trees are not recyclable and end up in local landfills .” Real, cut trees are a better environmental choice, as only a fraction of the trees grown at tree farms are cut down each year. Growing real trees doesn’t involve the the intense carbon emissions necessary for producing their faux brethren. But psychologically, many people balk at ending the life of a beautiful tree just so it can stand in a living room for a few weeks. It seems like selfish, flagrant domination over nature. And millions of these trees go to landfill after they spend less than a month adorning living rooms. London Christmas Tree Rental urges customers to name their trees, so that these plants feel more like family. If a customer grows attached to their tree, they can arrange to have the same one again next year — up to a point. At seven feet, the trees are transferred from their pots to retire in a forest . + London Christmas Tree Rental Via Upworthy Image via David Boozer

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