Walkers launches free recycling program amid growing pressure from critics

October 8, 2018 by  
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An online social media campaign calling for popular U.K. chip manufacturer Walkers to adopt a more sustainable packaging method has succeeded. After hundreds of thousands of empty potato crisp packages were sent back to Walkers by environmental critics, the PepsiCo-owned company is launching a free recycling initiative to collect and repurpose the plastic packaging. Initially, Walkers intended to adopt a better packaging solution by 2025, but pressure from consumers has resulted in a momentous decision by company leaders to make the change now. “Our new Walkers recycling initiative starts to tackle this issue right now by repurposing used crisp packets to create everyday items,” announced Ian Ellington, general manager for PepsiCo U.K., on Friday. Starting in December, consumers will be able to deposit any brand of empty chip bags with recycling firm TerraCycle. The company is setting up collection points nationwide as well as a free-of-charge mailing system where users can post their chip bags using a box or envelope. Walkers came under public scrutiny after it was revealed that it produced over 7,000 non-recyclable potato chip packets every minute. These empty bags find their ways into landfills and oceans  at a rate of approximately 6 billion packs a year. Backlash resulted in a highly-publicized plea by the British Royal Mail for chip consumers to stop sending empty bags back to the company (despite their respect for the conservation movement), because the mass mailings were tampering with its service efficiency. Related: Environmental campaign floods UK Royal Mail with empty potato chip bags “We share people’s concerns about the amount of plastic in our environment and are working on a number of both short- and long-term solutions to reduce the impact of our packaging,” Ellington said. Walkers maintains that its packaging is in fact, “technically recyclable, but the issue until now has been that they weren’t being separated or collected for recycling.” However, Recycle Now, the government-funded program created by waste advisory committee Wrap, claims this is not quite the case. The body reports that none of the produced packets are recyclable, and that they should be directed to the waste can, not the recycling bin. Members of the 38 Degrees movement , which includes more than 332,000 petition-signers, will be keeping a close eye on Walkers and its repurposing plans. “We are delighted to hear that Walkers will now be recycling used crisp packets,” said David Babbs, executive director of the online campaign. “It is proof that public pressure can shift big companies to do more to prevent waste. But let’s not forget that there is still more for Walkers to do if they want to keep the public on side. The public will be watching to make sure the new recycling scheme isn’t just a PR stunt. And, most importantly, they have to make their crisp packets fully recyclable far sooner than 2025.” Via The Guardian and 38 Degrees Image via Caitriana Nicholson

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Walkers launches free recycling program amid growing pressure from critics

Edible plants surround the curvaceous Barangaroo House in Australia

October 8, 2018 by  
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Completed just last year, the eye-catching Barangaroo House has already become a visual landmark for the inner-city suburb of Barangaroo in Sydney, Australia. The competition-winning design is the work of Australian architecture firm Collins and Turner , which created the sculptural building to house a contemporary restaurant and bar of the same name. Located near the waterfront in a high pedestrian-trafficked area, the curvaceous building mimics the appearance of three stacked bowls rimmed with edible and ornament plants for a touch of greenery. Set on a 750-square-meter corner site overlooking waterfront views, the Barangaroo House marks the southern entry point to the Barangaroo South urban regeneration project that was headed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners . In contrast to its angular neighbors, the three-story restaurant and bar features curved facades made with concentrically steam-bent timber dowels that have been charred black to improve the material’s resistance to the elements and as a reference to the “primeval act of cooking.” Ringed with vegetation, the rounded balconies are cantilevered  over the landscape and provide a stellar outdoor dining experience for guests. “The ambition of the project is the creation of a welcoming, timeless, convivial structure, that over time becomes a much loved part of the city ,” the architecture firm said. “The key urban design agenda of a ‘building in the round’ dictated the curvilinear form, which projects curved perimeter balconies outward in each direction. Structural cantilevers up to 8.5 m permit a uniquely outdoor atmosphere to a series of dining spaces on each level of the multi-tiered building.” Related: An urban farm and restaurant flourishes in Utrecht’s “circular” pavilion Frameless glazing was installed on the north and west facades of the ground floor, providing a seamless connection between the streetscape and the indoor bar. Operable glazing also wraps around the upper levels and is shielded from the intense sun by the cantilevered balconies. + Collins and Turner Via ArchDaily Images via Rory Gardiner

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Edible plants surround the curvaceous Barangaroo House in Australia

Historic Luxembourg building is metamorphosed into an eco-friendly powerhouse

October 3, 2018 by  
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Paris-based Vincent Callebaut Architectures has placed first in POST Luxembourg’s international design competition with its chrysalis-inspired vision for transforming the telecommunication company’s historic headquarters building into a carbon-neutral city landmark. Dubbed the Metamorphosis of the Hotel des Postes, the winning design includes nearly 120,000 square feet of mixed-use space comprising housing, co-working, retail, a brewery, restaurant and a permaculture rooftop garden. Although the design calls for a significant revamp of the structure’s energy systems, the architects will also take care to preserve the building’s historic architectural elements that date back to the turn of the 20th century. Designed by the government architect Sosthène Weis in the early 1900s, the historic building is mainly built of stone and reinforced concrete but has also been remodeled over the years with several extensions. Vincent Callebaut Architectures will begin its “metamorphosis” of the property by removing three of the extensions and then carefully inserting new changes, which include transforming the interior courtyard into a covered atrium. Central to the redesign is the addition of a chrysalis-inspired, multi-story volume in an oblong shape as well as a photovoltaic cell-studded glass “solar dome.” “[Our goal is to] reveal the intrinsic heritage qualities of the building and highlight them with contemporary architecture that assumes its era,” the architects explained. “Between history and modernity, between heritage and innovation, this metamorphosis presents a project reinforcing the patrimonial identity of the place by transforming the historic building into a showcase of contemporary, ecological architecture. Low-Tech and high-tech are therefore in tune to serve this exceptional project.” Related: Five bridges topped with urban farms could revitalize war-torn Mosul Designed to meet carbon-neutral status, the project aims to consume less than 30 kWh of energy per square meter annually and meet near net-zero energy targets. The building will not only be powered with renewable energies such as solar, wind and biomass, but it will also be renovated to follow passive design principles and updated with an airtight building envelope, double-glazed windows and highly efficient insulation. Metamorphosis of the Hotel des Postes is currently seeking approval from the local government. + Vincent Callebaut Architectures Images via Vincent Callebaut Architectures

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Mass poaching in Botswana leaves behind 90 tuskless elephants

September 5, 2018 by  
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Ninety elephants have been poached in Botswana in what is being considered one of Africa’s grimmest mass poaching sprees. The majority of the creatures poached for their valuable ivory were large bull elephants who carry heavy tusks, according to a statement by Elephants Without Borders on Tuesday. The group had been conducting an aerial survey of the animals over several weeks in tandem with Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks when it made the discovery. “We started flying the survey on 10 July, and we have counted 90 elephant carcasses since the survey commenced,” said Mike Chase, director of Elephants Without Borders. “Each day, we are counting dead elephants.” It is clear that the elephants were hunted for ivory, despite the recent revocations of new ivory imports by large markets. The killing is supplying still-open routes to Asia, where a demand for fresh ivory is bankrolling poachers up to $1,000 per kilo. The carcasses were found mutilated with their skulls “chopped open by presumably very sharp axes, to remove their tusks” according to Chase, who also noted that in some cases the trunks of the animals had also gone missing. Related: The world’s largest ivory market just banned ivory Botswana is widely considered an elephant sanctuary compared to neighboring Zambia and Angola, where the creatures “have been poached to the verge of local extinction,” Chase said. It is no surprise that poachers are now turning to Botswana, as the previous “shoot-to-kill” policy against poachers has gone out the window. Moreover, rangers have been disarmed under the government of Mokgweetsi Masisi after former-President Ian Khama, who was vehement in his protection of wildlife , stepped down. Jason Bell, vice president for the International Fund for Animal Welfare , said, “Until now, Botswana’s elephant herds have largely been left in peace, but clearly Botswana is now in the cross-hairs.” Tourism Minister for Botswana, Tshekedi Khama also weighed in on the coinciding ranger disarmament and mass slaughter. “I am very concerned, it’s a huge worry … because we had been spared poaching for a long time, I think now we are realizing the sophistication of these poachers,” Khama said. “Unfortunately, sometimes we learn these lessons the hard way.” Botswana is home to the largest population of elephants in Africa , with nearly 135,000 of the majestic beasts roaming its lands. These numbers account for almost a third of all the elephants in Africa since numbers have plummeted to about 415,000 in the past decade,  according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature . “The scale of elephant poaching is by far the largest I have seen or read about in Africa to date,” Chase said. Related: The Trump Administration decides to allow the import of elephant trophies after all With rhinos also being targeted in Botswana — six white rhinos having been found butchered and stripped of their horns in recent months — a change in policy must be made. Government officials have declined to comment on any future plans to rectify the ranger policies or prevent future incidents. Via The Guardian Image via Letizia Barbi

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Mass poaching in Botswana leaves behind 90 tuskless elephants

Indonesia mobilizes 20,000 citizens to clean up plastic pollution

September 5, 2018 by  
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Indonesia wastes upward of 10 billion plastic bags every year, making it the second highest polluter of plastic in the entire world. To address the growing plastic pollution problem, thousands of volunteers gathered around the country last month and participated in one of the largest plastic cleanups to date. The goal of the event was to educate citizens about the dangers of pollution and promote better recycling practices among young people. More than 20,000 people from 76 different areas of the country participated in the event, which organizers dubbed “Face the Sea.” The volunteers scoured beaches in Indonesia for plastic trash in order to raise awareness about ocean pollution. The country only trails China in the amount of plastic it wastes every year. In total, Indonesia produces some 3.2 million tons of plastic trash annually, a quarter of which gets dumped in the ocean. Once the plastic gets into the ocean, currents gather it up and create huge areas of floating garbage. The biggest patch, located in the Pacific Ocean, is twice as large as the state of Texas. Marine life , including fish, whales and birds, often mistake the plastic for food and eat it. The plastic stays in the digestion system of the animal for life and frequently leads to death. If the world continues to waste plastic at this rate, the amount of waste in the ocean will outweigh sea animals by the year 2050. Fortunately, countries like Indonesia are starting to turn things around by understanding the importance of preserving the ocean. Apart from the recent event, the Southeast Asian country has also promised to decrease its plastic waste by 70 percent over the next seven years. The government initiated an extra tax on plastic bags two years ago, which cut the country’s plastic bag use in half over the course of just three months. The program is no longer in existence, however, because local businesses claimed it decreased overall sales. Many activists say the low number of successful policies to fight plastic pollution is because of a lack of awareness, which is what the ocean cleanup organizers are hoping to address. Via Mongabay Image via Fabio Achilli

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Indonesia mobilizes 20,000 citizens to clean up plastic pollution

Jane Goodall and conservationists move to obtain bear hunting licences in Wyoming

July 19, 2018 by  
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Grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park are in danger as Wyoming opens up its first bear hunt since the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973. Wildlife conservationists working alongside famed animal rights champion and educator Jane Goodall have raised over $28,000 online for their campaign “Shoot’em with a Camera, Not a Gun,” which has infiltrated the list of approximately 7,000 lottery members applying for a hunting licence in the state of Wyoming. In May, seven members of the state’s Game and Fish Department unanimously voted in favor of hunting the grizzly bears . People interested in hunting the bears had to enter into a lottery for bear hunting licenses. The lottery closed at 7 a.m. on July 17, and about 7,000 applications were submitted. The department communicated that it views this influx of applicants as proof that this is something their citizens want. Related: Trump administration wants to allow “extreme and cruel” hunting methods in Alaska The Shoot’em with a Camera activists are seeking to lower the number of hunters granted licenses by scoring as many permits as they can through the state’s lottery system. Of the people selected to receive licenses, those who reside in state will pay a fee of $602, while those who reside outside of Wyoming should be prepared to fork over $6,002 in the hopes of either saving or shooting their own grizzly bears. The event will allow for up to 22 grizzly bears to be hunted. Up until the 1850s, nearly 50,000 grizzly bears roamed North America. By 1973, only 136 grizzlies were left in and around Yellowstone. The number of wild grizzlies plummeted as a result of the same bear hunting activities that states such as Wyoming — and now Montana and Idaho — are sanctioning.  Now the grizzly bear population has reached approximately 700, apparently enough to warrant their elimination from both the Endangered Species Act and the environment. More than 650,000 people, including 125 Native American tribes, took part in a commentary session and criticized the government for raising the issue of removing grizzlies from the Endangered Species Act back in 2016. A federal judge will rule next month on a lawsuit appealing on the bears’ behalf —more specifically against their removal from the Act — that will hopefully put a ban on the hunting event altogether. Via The Guardian Images via Yellowstone National Park ( 1 , 2 )

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Jane Goodall and conservationists move to obtain bear hunting licences in Wyoming

Trading specimens for science? Theres a website for that

July 2, 2018 by  
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Good news for science and for the Earth: scientists looking for rare research specimens, such as the smoothtooth blacktip shark or Antarctic skate, now have a website to request or trade biological odds and ends. Built by students and backed by startup accelerators, Otlet.io allows researchers to list their surplus research samples and request those currently not available through other means. The site has already been acknowledged as a major win for conservation . The website is a product born of frustration: founders Lauren Meyer and Madi Green, two PhD students in Australia and Tasmania, were having trouble finding specimens to complete projects. After completing an undergraduate honors thesis with limited data, Meyer discovered that a colleague held several tiger shark livers – which she needed to present a conclusive report. To improve communications and cooperation between researchers, Meyer and Green started SharkShare.com, which ultimately evolved to Otlet. Related: 500-mile-long shark highway could become a protected wildlife corridor Universities hail the project as a crucial step forward for conservation. Some species listed on Otlet today are either Red List-threatened or considered data deficient by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – and, by sharing existing resources, scientists can continue their current research without further threatening any species. To begin the specimen swapping process, scientists simply create an account on Otlet and share what they have or what they need. When a match occurs, individuals can reach out to one another to coordinate exchanges and determine shipping responsibility. The community is only open to active researchers: before requesting or listing anything, users must provide their academic status, organization affiliation and details on their specific field of study. Even though the website is relatively new, it’s already created major waves across the international science community: there are more than 10,000 listings on Otlet representing 135 distinct species from 47 nations. Recently added to the specimen database are flapnose ray fins from the Red Sea, livers from South Australian thresher sharks and Pacific spookfish muscles from the subantarctic Pacific Ocean . All are available for exchange with other scientists. Otlet receives support from Australia’s St. George Bank and the New South Wales Government, startup incubator BlueChilli and the Save Our Seas foundation. + Otlet Via  Earther Images via Wikimedia Commons

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Trading specimens for science? Theres a website for that

Glowing labyrinth made from plastic waste pops up in Buenos Aires

June 22, 2018 by  
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Over 15,000 plastic bottles were temporarily given a new lease on life as a glowing labyrinth in Vatican Square, one of Buenos Aires’ most celebrated public spaces. Designed by environmental art collective Luzinterruptus , the Plastic Waste Labyrinth calls attention to the staggering amount of waste generated everyday in a thought-provoking installation. Commissioned by the Department of Environmental and Public Areas of Buenos Aires City Government, Ciudad Verde, the immersive artwork was installed for one week and open 24 hours a day as part of Global Recycling Day. Previously installed in Madrid and Katowice, the Plastic Waste Labyrinth is a site-specific piece constructed from waste collected from the surrounding area. To show which beverage brands generate the highest amount of waste in Buenos Aires, the architects left the bottle labels on. More than 15,000 plastic bottles were collected from the city with the help of several urban recycling cooperatives. After the plastic bottles were cleaned and sorted into clear plastic bags , Luzinterruptus built a labyrinth that stretches over 650 feet in length and covers an area of 1,550 square feet. “We created an immersive labyrinthine piece where visitors would feel disoriented and anxiously look for an exit,” explained the arts collective. “This experience intended to beget a thought, a conversation, or perhaps an intention to improve our way to use or get rid of plastic. We want to take the opportunity here to bring attention to the uncontrolled use of bottled liquids which is causing great problems in poor countries while reservoirs are being privatized and bought by large corporations and their selfish interests, thus owning water, Earth’s most important resource and a fundamental right of all its inhabitants.” Related: Giant glowing bottle walls light up Singapore for “plastic binge” awareness The labyrinth is illuminated with cool white LEDs that turn the labyrinth into a glowing space at night. At the end of the event, the Plastic Waste Labyrinth was dismantled and all the plastic was recycled. The bottles, cleaned and sorted by color, were sent back to the city’s recycling cooperatives, while the bags were returned to the manufacturing plant, where they would be melted. + Luzinterruptus Images via Luzinterruptus

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Glowing labyrinth made from plastic waste pops up in Buenos Aires

All risk, no reward: funding disaster mitigation can prove difficult

June 14, 2018 by  
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Why do investments in climate adaptation lag behind the level of funding needed?

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All risk, no reward: funding disaster mitigation can prove difficult

Yellowstone superintendent says the Trump administration forced him out of his job due to wildlife advocacy

June 11, 2018 by  
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Yellowstone National Park superintendent Dan Wenk says he was forced out of his position by President Donald Trump’s administration because of his wildlife advocacy, The Guardian reported . Former National Park Service director Jon Jarvis told the publication the move was meant to make Wenk into an example to weaken a culture of conservation . Wenk said, “It’s a hell of a way to be treated at the end of four decades spent trying to do my best for the park service and places like Yellowstone, but that’s how these guys are. Throughout my career, I’ve not encountered anything like this, ever.” Last week, the United States Department of the Interior (DOI) told Wenk, who has been the Yellowstone superintendent since 2011, that he must accept a reassignment to the Capital Region in Washington, D.C. in 60 days or resign. The Guardian said Wenk had been outspoken about creating more room for wild bison to ramble outside the national park to Montana, a move opposed by the cattle industry, which comprises a core section of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke ‘s constituency. Wenk had also questioned proposed sport hunting of grizzly bears. Related: US DOI scientist claims he was reassigned for speaking up on climate change Jarvis told The Guardian that preservation in large parks, largely in Alaska and the American West, conflicts with Zinke’s hopes to increase industrial development and monetize natural resources located on public lands . He said that Zinke “holds little regard for the esprit de corps traditions of the park service. Dan [Wenk] was set up as the first domino to fall.” An April 2018 Office of Inspector General at the DOI report scrutinized the reassignment of 27 senior executives between June 15, 2017 and October 29, 2017 and discovered the DOI’s Executive Resources Board “did not document its plan for selecting senior executives for reassignment, nor did it consistently apply the reasons it stated it used to select senior executives for reassignment.” They also found the board “did not gather the information needed to make informed decisions about the reassignments” and didn’t effectively communicate with the senior executives or most managers impacted by the reassignments. The report said, “As a result, many of the affected senior executives questioned whether these reassignments were political or punitive, based on a prior conflict with DOI leadership, or on the senior executive’s nearness to retirement. Many executives…believed their reassignment may have been related to their prior work assignments, including climate change , energy, or conservation.” Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons (1)

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Yellowstone superintendent says the Trump administration forced him out of his job due to wildlife advocacy

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