ESUB Tracks is a smart, solar-powered bicycle helmet concept

January 26, 2021 by  
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Germany-based design firm  WertelOberfell  has teamed up with material scientists, material suppliers, end-users and manufacturers to develop ESUB Tracks, a conceptual design for a smart bicycle helmet powered by flat-printed organic photovoltaics. Designed to prioritize safety, the proposed smart  bicycle helmet  is equipped with proximity sensors, a printed piezoelectric microphone that accepts basic voice commands for hands-free use, turn signal indicator lights and printed piezoelectric bone conduction speakers that provide audio via Bluetooth without distracting from the surrounding environment. To maximize solar access, the designers covered the entire surface of the uniquely shaped helmet with flat printed organic  photovoltaics  to recharge the printed organic batteries tucked inside a unit in the lower rear part of the helmet. Plans also show the rear part of the helmet would contain turn signal indicator lights as well as left and right piezoelectric haptic actuators that vibrate to warn the cyclist if a fast vehicle is close approaching. Meanwhile, the area in front of the rider’s ears includes leather straps with Bluetooth speakers attached via heat pressing. “One of the goals of this EU Horizon 2020 project was to stimulate interdisciplinary design and material research, process optimization and to develop less toxic and more eco-friendly alternatives in the field of printed electronics,” the designers explained in a project statement. “It explores how novel materials can help to improve safety and the user experience while commuting or  cycling  for leisure.” Related: Jeff Woolf’s folding bike helmet could revolutionize cycling safety A Nano Arduino board controls all electric components, from the  Bluetooth -connected speakers to the electric drive that fastens the straps for a snug and custom comfortable fit. The ESUB Tracks smart bicycle helmet concept was created with funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 761112. + WertelOberfell Images via WertelOberfell

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ESUB Tracks is a smart, solar-powered bicycle helmet concept

The European bison population is no longer vulnerable

January 14, 2021 by  
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The European bison’s population has increased sufficiently for it to be removed from IUCN’s list of vulnerable species. Thanks to long-term conservation work, the population has increased to more than 6,200, up from a 2003 figure of only 1,800. Rather than vulnerable, the European bison is now classified as “almost threatened.” Romania is the place to be if you’re a bison — or somebody who wants to see them roaming free. The largest populations are in Vân?tori Neam? Natural Park, ?arcu Mountains and F?g?r? Mountains. The Tarcu herd of over 65 bison was developed by WWF Romania and Rewilding Europe. Related: Cow escapes pen to live wild with a herd of bison in Poland The 5-year LIFE Bison project started in 2016 and is set to end March 30, 2021. Its mission is to create a viable population of bison in Romania that would breed in the wild, promoting biodiversity . The project also aims to use bison as an ecotourism draw that will help local communities. The LIFE Bison project is co-funded by the LIFE Programme, the European Union’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action that was created in 1992. “The bison calves born in the wild and the support of local communities are good signs that bison belong to these ancestral lands, but let’s not forget that the species is still threatened by various challenges, from habitat loss to ambiguity in legislative processes,” said Marina Drug?, LIFE Bison project manager, WWF-Romania, in a press release. “That is why we believe that only by working together can we ensure the progress made in the last 70 years will not decline, but that we will witness a change for the better.” The European bison hit a low point early in the 20th century, when it only survived in captivity. The reintroduction of the bison into the wild began in the 1950s. So far, Russia, Poland and Belarus have the largest subpopulations. But the species will still rely on conservation measures for the foreseeable future. + LIFEBison Photography by Daniel Mîrlea/Rewilding Europe via WWF

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The European bison population is no longer vulnerable

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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Global investment managers say no to carbon

September 11, 2020 by  
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A European group of global investment managers and pension funds has devised an ambitious plan to cut their portfolios down to net-zero carbon . The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change includes more than 1,200 members in 16 countries. Together, they control over $40 trillion in assets. The group distributes its recommended measures to asset managers to help them reach the European Union’s goal to be climate -neutral by 2050. Its policies are based on a framework developed with more than 70 funds around the world. Related: Critics question Amazon’s sustainability amidst Bezos Earth Fund launch As investors focus more on sustainability, especially since the Paris Climate Agreement, they’ve begun to pressure their asset managers to cut the carbon in their portfolios. “Countries, cities and companies around the globe are committing to achieve the goal of net-zero emissions and investors need to show similar leadership,” Stephanie Pfeifer, IIGCC’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. IIGCC’s agenda is lengthy. A few points include analyzing the latest policy developments for members, developing policy positions, collaborating with like-minded global and European bodies, and facilitating workshops and roundtables with peers. Decarbonizing the world’s economy is an overwhelming task. Before a slight pandemic-related blip downward, global coal demand was at an all-time high. With a projected 9.7 billion people by 2050, it will take a lot of money, education and commitment to meet the ever-increasing appetite for electricity with renewable sources. Oil use currently averages more than 90 million barrels per day, and 70% of this is used for transportation. To reach net-zero carbon goals, these diesel- and gasoline-chugging vehicles will need to be switched out for electric vehicles charged with renewable energy sources. On the plus side, the world spends more than $5 trillion on fossil fuel subsidies, which would go a long way in funding renewable energy instead. We might also see a big drop in healthcare costs if people were no longer exposed to the detrimental effects of burning coal for fuel. + Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change Via Forbes Image via Pixabay

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LeSportsac’s ReCycled collection uses recycled water bottles

September 11, 2020 by  
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In 1974, LeSportsac opened its doors for business in New York City. Much has changed since then, but not the company’s focus on creating innovative, colorful and useful bags that encourage an on-the-go lifestyle. With the modern-day zeitgeist squarely aimed at improving sustainable practices, both in the private and business world, LeSportsac’s most recent release removes plastic from the waste stream while encouraging fans to continue their LeSportsac journey. Called ReCycled, the new bags come in three prints, each making a statement about green developments in production and packaging. LeSportsac’s effort to improve its products through sustainable practices has led to a reduced carbon footprint by utilizing post-consumer water bottles in the fabric. In fact, every yard of fabric equals nine recycled bottles, and each product lists the actual equivalent number of water bottles used. Related: This versatile, waterproof parka is made with recycled PET bottles Fortunately for the environment, many companies have adopted the advancing technology of turning  post-consumer plastic  into usable fabric. The process involves collecting, cleaning and shredding plastic into small chips. Subsequently, the chips are spun into yarn for the fabric.  Small and large cosmetic, cross-body, hobo and weekender bags make up the collection in all three prints. Eco Iris Garden features tones of blue and purple with the telltale yellow color punch of an iris in bloom. Eco Rose Garden offers a colorful and classically feminine floral motif. Eco Black delivers the same travel bag options in a more subdued color offering.  LeSportsac has even transformed its old logo to accommodate the recycled logo. The LeSportsac Fall 2020 ReCycled Collection debuted in-store and online mid-August 2020, and each component of the capsule collection is now ready for purchase. After more than four decades in the industry , LeSportsac aims to continue providing the bags consumers need for an active lifestyle while simultaneously focusing on sustainable, eco-friendly development. + LeSportsac Images via LeSportsac

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New electric car can be rented for just $22 a month

March 11, 2020 by  
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French automaker Citroën has unveiled the Ami — a one-of-a-kind tiny electric car made so accessible, it can be driven by anyone older than 14 years old, with or without a driving license. The two-seat vehicle is 100% electric and comes with a battery that can be powered from a standard electrical socket in just three hours. As part of the brand’s mission to “unleash urban mobility for all,” the Citroën Ami is affordably priced at just 6,000 euros (approximately $6,600) or the long-term rental price of 19.99 euros ($22) per month. Named after the French word for friend, Ami is classified as an electric quadricycle, a European Union vehicle category for microcars that can typically be driven by a teenager, even without a license. Lightweight and ultra-compact, the Citroën Ami measures just 2.41 meters (7.9 feet) in length and weighs 485 kilograms (1,069 pounds) with a 5.5 kWh battery and 6 kW engine. The microcar has a range of 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) on a single charge.  Related: Fisker debuts an electric luxury SUV for $37,500 at CES Despite its small size, the two-person interior looks surprisingly roomy thanks to expansive glazing that includes the windscreen, side windows, rear windows and panoramic roof, all of which bathe the car in natural light. As a car of the modern age, Ami can be seamlessly linked to a smartphone for easy access to essential information about the vehicle, from range and charge status to maintenance alerts and mileage. Ami is also available in seven different versions and provides a variety of customization and color options. “Ami – 100% ëlectric makes everyday city life easier by drawing inspiration from new consumption patterns,” the firm explained. “Beyond the innovative mobility object, Citroën adopts a disruptive strategy by offering an electric mobility solution at previously unheard price levels, through various offers tailored to the customer’s actual use.” Ami will be made available for long-term rental, car sharing or purchase. Sales will launch in France at the end of March and will be expanded to select European countries in the following months. + Citroën Photography by maison-vignaux at Continental Productions via Citroën

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New electric car can be rented for just $22 a month

Clean Energy Deal Tracker: Don’t say Amazon isn’t doing anything — international PPAs on the rise

January 16, 2020 by  
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The corporate renewable procurements disclosed in the fourth quarter of 2019 were remarkable for being unremarkable.

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Clean Energy Deal Tracker: Don’t say Amazon isn’t doing anything — international PPAs on the rise

Your guide to Europe’s ‘Green New Deal,’ the continent’s new plan to get to net zero

December 16, 2019 by  
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Not got time to read every line of the European Green Deal? We’ve got you covered.

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Your guide to Europe’s ‘Green New Deal,’ the continent’s new plan to get to net zero

Your guide to Europe’s ‘Green New Deal,’ the continent’s new plan to get to net zero

December 16, 2019 by  
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Not got time to read every line of the European Green Deal? We’ve got you covered.

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Your guide to Europe’s ‘Green New Deal,’ the continent’s new plan to get to net zero

Value-added tax: a potential solution for carbon leakage

November 26, 2019 by  
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This system would be burdensome and inefficient but it could make it feasible to practically address carbon leakage.

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Value-added tax: a potential solution for carbon leakage

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