A beer crisis is brewing in Germany as bottle recycling slows amid heatwaves

August 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

With summer still in full swing and heatwaves gripping countries around the world, breweries across  Germany have been scrambling to keep up with the beer demand from hot and thirsty customers. The brew masters have enough of the bubbly beverage to go around, but companies are running out of containers to distribute their goods as people continue drinking  beer without returning the bottles for reuse fast enough. While there are approximately 4 billion beer bottles in circulation within Germany, the demand for beer is higher than the return rate of the glass bottles. Germany is very proactive in recycling , having one of the highest recycling rates in the EU at around 50 percent, according to a Eurostat data report . Customers pay a small deposit on bottles when they buy beer from the store, which they get back when they return the empty cases. This small incentive, and a high regard for the environment, encourages customers to reuse and refill the glass bottles up to 30 times. Related: France plans to make recycled plastic bottles less expensive Greif Brewery recently told its customers to return their empty bottles, or they would have to go without beer. “We’ve had a beer bottle shortage since the middle of May,” said Christian Schuster, employee of Greif Brewery. “We can’t get hold of used ones fast enough, and ordering new ones takes time. I’m having to send my delivery guys out to look for old, empty bottles.” According to master brewer Thomas Tyrell, who heads up the Berlin plant for California’s Stone Brewing, German attitudes toward aluminum cans are contributing to the problem as much as the heat is. Most Germans believe that cans are not environmentally friendly, so they prefer glass bottles. This is not the case, he pointed out, and the cans hold the same small deposit fees as their glass counterparts. Many Germans also see drinking beer out of a can as being crass and ill-bred, but soon they may not care as many breweries struggle to put fresh beer on the shelves. Related: The world’s largest beer brewer invents low-carbon beer bubbles Meanwhile, Stone Brewing may have found the only solution to the problem. Stone opened its first brewery in Berlin two years ago — with canned beer. Manners aside, Tyrell added, “We think it’s best for the beer… there is no light ingress and, over time, there are some oxygen permeations through the lid of a bottle, which the can doesn’t have.” Any beer is good beer when there is none to be had, but with crisp and refreshing beer, Stone seems to hold a sustainable recipe for success. Via NPR Image via Kaktuslampan/Flickr

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A beer crisis is brewing in Germany as bottle recycling slows amid heatwaves

Singapore, the City in a Garden, sets an example for a green planet

August 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Singapore has transformed itself from a hub of pollution to an environmental dream-city in the past 50 years. From afar, the country’s landscape looks like any other modern city with abounding skyscrapers etched into its skyline. On the inside however, a green heart has grown at the center of the city, spreading into the minds of its people and up the walls of its buildings. This heart was initiated by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew — often called ‘Chief Gardener’ — who pushed his imperative of a clean and green Singapore until it became reality. In the 1960s, raw sewage loaded already-polluted canals of the city-state with so much waste that they poured sludge-like  waters into the Singapore River and surrounding areas. “In the 1960s, Singapore was like any other developing country – dirty and polluted, lacking proper sanitation and facing high unemployment,” Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources for Singapore, explained in his recent address to the Global Environment Outlook 6 (GEO6) . “These challenges were particularly acute, given our constraints as a small island state with limited resources; we did not even have enough drinking water.” These problems encouraged rapid industrialization to help improve living conditions for the citizens of Singapore, but the widespread urbanization only aggravated the environmental concerns. Related: A rainforest-like green heart grows within Singapore’s Marina One Yew saw the decay as “a blighted urban jungle of concrete [that] destroys the human spirit.” He believed that “we need the greenery of nature to lift our spirits,” hence planting the first tree of many in 1963 to inspire a generation of eco-warriors into action. This has become The Singapore Story  of the ‘Biophilic City in a Garden.’ The incredible journey began with this small deed, shortly before Singapore’s separation from Malaysia. Now, the city sits at the center of architectural innovation and technological design and has become a green global powerhouse. “We merely wanted to rise above the region we found ourselves in,” Lim Liang Jim, group director of the  National Biodiversity Centre at the National Parks Board, said in an interview with UN Environment . “Lee Kuan Yew had a plan. Keep us clean. Keep us green.” The generation that pioneered this change understood that if Singapore became “a nice place to live, then people will come and invest. Then we moved up,” Jim explained. But the movement was not solely economic or aesthetic in nature. The small self-governing city-state was urged to clean up the region by Singaporeans who wanted to stay on their land. These residents launched a strenuous 30-year campaign, cleaning up pollution and creating agencies where there were none to support their cause. This lead to the inception of the National Parks Board, which decided there should be greenery and plant life everywhere people looked. The board rejected the idea of being confined to a concrete jungle and instead constructed a sustainable model for any city to follow. Part of the ongoing changes involves educating students from an early age on the importance of environmental awareness, protection and advocacy. “We are going back to history, to ensure that we build from the ground up and ensure that the youth of Singapore don’t take our 50 years of history for granted,” said Lim, who believes that history can be easily forgotten by the minds of young Singaporeans who only know the smell of fresh air and the sights of lush greenery. “[Environmentalism] has to be something that is driven by the grassroots movement, it has to become in a sense political. You can’t easily turn a nature reserve into buildings, it would require some reasoned discussion with the public. We have to make sure that the younger generation appreciates our nature and biodiversity and do not take them for granted.” Related: Giant glowing bottle walls light up Singapore for “plastic binge” awareness This is Singapore’s mission in preserving the achievements it has made while ensuring the future of its vision as an environmental champion. It believes that its citizens are entrusted a with stewardship that makes caring for common spaces second-nature. The residents built this new Singapore from the ground up, adding innovative features like the SGBioAtlas , which allows members of the public to become ‘citizen scientists’ by uploading photos of plants or animals and to the National Biodiversity Centre’s central database. Other ongoing projects include urban planning and zoning as well as policy changes and public awareness campaigns focused on a smaller carbon footprint and zero waste, among other goals. With its visionary leadership, Singapore’s long-term plan includes a phase of sustainable development found in its Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 , which underlines improvement in sectors that include all 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals through 2030. “Our approach has been to build a livable and sustainable city through pragmatic policy-making based on sound economic principles and science; a focus on long-term planning and effective implementation; and the ability to mobilize popular support for the common good,” Zulkifli said. Singapore has set the standard for a clean and green future worldwide, and it looks absolutely inviting. + The Singapore Story Via UN Environment Images via Joan Campderrós-i-Canas ( 1 , 2 ), Jaafar Alnasser and Jo Sau

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Singapore, the City in a Garden, sets an example for a green planet

A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest

August 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Green

Barcelona- and Mexico City-based firm  Cadaval Sola-Morales has just unveiled Casa de la Roca, a beautiful, dark timber home topped with a green roof  and located in a remote forest in Mexico. The single-story structure features a jet-black facade crafted from felled trees and finished with a living roof to help camouflage the home into the peaceful, secluded forestscape. When designing Casa de la Roca, the architects were focused on one objective: to create a home that would easily blend into the landscape for years to come. Acting accordingly, the architects chose materials based on durability. The structure, which sits on a low-maintenance concrete foundation, is clad in reclaimed timber from local felled or dead trees. Related: Living trees grow through the ceiling of Cadaval & Sola-Morales’ Tepoztlan Lounge in Mexico The exterior walls were then coated in black paint to add longevity to the structure. “We used paint (and not dye), to add another layer of material protection; dye tends to lose its qualities over the years,” the architects explained. “It is black, responding to the desire to blend in with the landscape, seeking a certain anonymity in front of the vegetation and exuberant views.” The dark exterior essentially allows the home to hide deep within the forest , but that wasn’t enough for the architects. Once the dwelling was constructed, the team finished the entire roof with vegetation, creating an even stronger connection between the man-made and natural. According to the architects, the home’s layout of three long hallways that converge into the main living space was also inspired by the landscape. The team wanted the house to have three private lookouts at each end to provide distinct views of the forest. The three “arms” of the home come together at a central point, which is also where people can come together and socialize . The interior space is both elegant and welcoming. A minimal amount of furniture is spread out over the open-plan living room, so the main focus is always on the incredible nature that surrounds the home. Extra large floor-to-ceiling windows and doors allow optimal natural light into the home, while also creating a seamless connection to the forest. + Cadaval Sola-Morales Via Wallpaper Photography by Sandra Pereznieto

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A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest

France plans to make recycled plastic bottles less expensive

August 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Take that, plastic! France has announced that it plans to make bottles made with recycled plastic less expensive than those made from new plastic, part of a larger plan to intensify regulations on plastic use. Other aspects of the plan include increasing taxes on landfill and lowering the value-added tax on recycling activities. Related: Coca-Cola rewards recycling in the UK with half-priced theme park tickets According to Junior Environment Minister Brune Poirson, the French government will introduce further specific measures to address the problem of plastic pollution . “We need to transform the French economy,” she said. “We are launching a movement that will be scrutinized and followed by our European partners.” Part of this movement is a plan to reduce the price of products packaged in recycled containers by up to 10 percent. The discount-premium system encourages its consumers to recycle by making sustainability the more affordable option. “Tomorrow, when there is a choice between two bottles, one made with recycled plastic, the other not, the first one will be cheaper,” Poiron stated. Related: Dominica makes historic pledge to combat plastic pollution Currently, France has the second-worst recycling rate in Europe, with just 25.5 percent of its plastic packaging waste recycled. By comparison, Germany and the Netherlands recycle about 50 percent of their plastic waste. Nevertheless, the French government plans to change its plastic recycling rate to 100% by the year 2025, with the recent announcement marking the first steps toward this goal. Veolia and Suez, recycling powerhouses in the French market, have long been calling for the regulation changes, which would provide a boost for business. Retailers have also joined the cause; for example, French company E.Leclerc has pledged to eliminate the sale of throwaway plastics and replace them with more eco-friendly alternatives, such as bamboo , and is testing a loyalty point system for customers who deposit plastic and glass bottles in some store outlets. + Eurostat + Le Journal de Dimanche Via Reuters

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France plans to make recycled plastic bottles less expensive

Court orders Monsanto to pay $289 million in cancer trial

August 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Agrochemical company Monsanto has been ordered to pay $289 million to school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, who said the Bayer subsidiary’s chemical products gave him cancer. On Friday, a California jury ruled that the company acted with knowledge that risks of cancer were possible when allowing their weedkillers, such as Roundup , to remain on the market with no hazard warnings. The $289 million sum consists of $39 million in compensatory damages with the remaining $250 million accorded for punitive damages. The three-day trial in the Superior Court of California in San Francisco concluded with the determination that Monsanto did not warn consumers like Johnson of the dangers associated to glyphosate exposure. The 46-year-old’s case was filed in 2016, but it was rushed to trial as a result of the acuteness of his cancer. Doctors predicted that Johnson, a pest control manager for a California county school system, would not live past 2020 because of the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma he developed while being on the job. Related: California man files lawsuit against Monsanto for allegedly hiding dangers of glyphosate Johnson regularly used popular Monsanto products Roundup and Ranger Pro, both herbicides containing glyphosate , a chemical that poses cancer risks to humans. Monsanto plans to appeal the verdict and cited 800 scientific studies and reviews in its support of the weedkillers. The company said, “Glyphosate does not cause cancer and did not cause Mr. Johnson’s cancer.” Monsanto was recently acquired for $62.5 billion by the German conglomerate Bayer, which is now faced with more than 5,000 lawsuits across the U.S. that resemble Mr. Johnson’s case. Related: Court orders EPA to ban pesticide that causes learning disabilities in children Jurors on the trial were privy to never-before-seen internal company documents “proving that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate, and specifically Roundup, could cause cancer,” Brent Wisner, Johnson’s lawyer, revealed in a statement. Wisner’s demand to the company was simple — “Put consumer safety first over profits.” Via The New York Times Image via Global Justice Now

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Court orders Monsanto to pay $289 million in cancer trial

Dominica makes historic pledge to combat plastic pollution

August 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Many countries are fighting plastic pollution by enforcing harsher regulations such as special labels and plastic taxes, but the island nation of Dominica is now leading the pack by announcing that it will ban plastic foam and common plastics by 2019. With less than five months left to go, the heroic stand involves the elimination of single-use items such as plastic straws, plates, forks and knives as well as plastic foam cups and containers. “Dominica prides itself as the ‘Nature Isle,’” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in his July 2018  budget address . “We must in every way deserve and reflect that designation. The issue of solid waste management affects that perception and we continue to grapple with it.” His hopes are to inspire not just a more environmentally prominent Dominica through successful sustainability measures , but to also create the world’s first-ever climate-resilient nation. Related: Shocking Caribbean photos reveal a “sea of plastic and Styrofoam” This undertaking to fight plastic pollution and become climate-resilient complements the country’s aim to better protect itself from natural disasters. In September 2017, Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, which is still grappling with the humanitarian and economic effects of the disaster. “Extreme weather events are now more frequent and intense, brought on by climate change impacts that are real, visible, devastating and unrelenting,” Skerrit said. “We must rebuild and reset our society and economy and protect our environment in order to achieve a new, more resilient Dominica.” Dominica follows in the footsteps of countries such as the U.K., New Zealand and Australia, which have seen a significant reduction in plastic pollution after taking measures against single-use plastic bags. Major companies such as Starbucks and Disney have also gained traction in their battles against plastic straws. Dominica will be the first nation to launch such a strict initiative against the major pollutants of plastic and plastic foam, and hopefully many countries will look to the nation’s progress when adopting their own action plans. + Dominica Via CNN Image via JD Lasica

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Dominica makes historic pledge to combat plastic pollution

Court orders EPA to ban pesticide that causes learning disabilities in children

August 10, 2018 by  
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After over a decade of fighting, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has finally scored a victory in securing the ban of the pesticide chlorpyrifos. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a court order to the EPA  requiring it to ban the chemical agent, which has harmful neurodevelopmental effects. Longstanding studies have indicated that exposure to chlorpyrifos can lead to increased risk of learning disabilities such as ADHD, developmental delays, and a lower IQ. Related: Unreleased internal FDA emails show glyphosate weedkiller residue in almost every food tested The NRDC and a coalition of labor and health organizations were represented by EarthJustice in the court case. The court found that the EPA broke the law by ignoring proven scientific evidence – including some evidence discovered by the agency itself – that chlorpyrifos could harm children who consumed produce treated with the chemical . Even small quantities of ingestion can cause developmental issues for some children, and so the long-overdue ban has left many parents relieved. “Some things are too sacred to play politics with—and our kids top the list,” said Erik Olson, the senior director of NRDC’s Health and Food program. “This is a victory for parents everywhere who want to feed their kids fruits and veggies without fear it’s harming their brains or poisoning communities.” States such as Hawaii had undertaken solitary battles against chlorpyrifos, banning it before the court ruling. However, many (including the NRDC) are upset it took so long for these protections to expand. Thankfully, yesterday’s court order mark a significant step toward protecting the food supply from chlorpyrifos at the national level. + EarthJustice Via NRDC

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Court orders EPA to ban pesticide that causes learning disabilities in children

The World Wildlife Fund created a fake store to call out Singapore’s ivory laws

August 9, 2018 by  
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The World Wildlife Fund (WWF)  revealed on Tuesday that it is behind Ivory Lane, a fake store that the organization launched to draw attention to Singapore’s ivory laws. While Singapore banned commercial ivory in 1990, the WWF says the law is not restrictive enough and that its loopholes help facilitate the global trade of illicit ivory. With the creation of Ivory Lane, the WWF hopes to raise awareness about this issue. Related: Illegal ivory trade continues to thrive in Europe The WWF used a fake online store and social media accounts to feign sales of vintage, or pre-1990, ivory jewelry. Under Singapore’s current law, ivory that entered the country before 1990 is fair game for sellers. Backlash to Ivory Lane swiftly followed, with over 65,000 reactions from protesters on social media. The awareness stunt has “sparked a heated debate on wildlife trade, national legislation and enforcement in Singapore,” announced the WWF. It is not uncommon for recently poached ivory to enter the marketplace under the guise of vintage pieces. WWF investigations found that over 40 physical shops in Singapore sell ivory products; they also found ivory listings on popular e-commerce platforms. Singapore is looking to ban the domestic sale of ivory, according to a statement from the country’s Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority. However, the details of the plan have yet to be worked out, and while the country has made large-scale seizures of illegal ivory, some conservation groups say it is not enough to stop the global ivory trade. One thing is certain, though – after WWF’s stunt with Ivory Lane, people are talking about it. + World Wildlife Fund Via Reuters Image by  Fancycrave  on  Unsplash

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The World Wildlife Fund created a fake store to call out Singapore’s ivory laws

Champagne could lose its classic taste due to climate change

August 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Planning to pull out a bottle of chilled champagne in celebration of your latest accomplishment? Not so fast. The seasonal shifts in temperature that have become more and more extreme over the years are affecting grape production in regions around the world, and that includes the famous Champagne region in France. Champagne grapes depend on a cool climate and chalky soil in order to produce the crisp, fruity taste they are known for. But climate change is making these factors less dependable, and champagne producers in France are worried about the future. Related: The growing wine industry is threatening California’s Napa Valley In an interview with Bloomberg, Antoine Malassagne, co-owner of champagne maker A.R. Lenoble, explained the difficulties now involved in champagne production. “Harvest is two weeks earlier than it was 20 years ago,” he said. “It used to be mid-to-late September. Now harvest often starts in August, as it will this year. But maturity during hot days and nights results in lower and lower acidity in the grapes, which means less freshness in the wines.” The lower acidity is also problematic for producers, given that acidity is what allows champagne to age, creating the wine’s unique taste. A.R. Lenoble has been combating the gustatory alterations to its products by mixing in reserve wines from older vintages. Louis Roederer, another champagne compnay, has begun experimenting with DNA analysis of yeast and biodynamic viticulture to try and head off the impacts of climate change. Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, the company’s chef de cave, has spearheaded these efforts in search of a way “to maintain what has made Champagne’s reputation.” Despite the potential challenges facing champagne producers, Lecaillon is optimistic. “We invented bubbles to make up for unripe grapes. As farmers, our job, our life, our passion has been to adapt to climate change for hundreds of years. If the future heats up too much,” he said, “we’ll just have to make Burgundy.” Via Bloomberg Image by  Anthony Delanoix  on  Unsplash

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Champagne could lose its classic taste due to climate change

Japan considers adopting daylight savings time for 2020 Summer Olympics

August 7, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

This summer’s deadly heatwaves in Japan  have caused government and Olympic officials to consider the benefits of adopting daylight savings time for the  2020 Summer Olympics to ensure athlete safety. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered his ruling party to consider what impacts a two hour shift forward would have on the country after backlash on social media followed the announcement. Adopting daylight savings time would allow events such as the marathon to be scheduled in the cooler morning hours. Masa Takaya, spokesperson for the 2020 games, urged the time push, saying it would also “help protect the environment and realize a low-carbon society in Japan,” alongside other efforts to add more plant life and heat-inhibiting pavements in the city. Although the time shift would provide both energy-saving and safety measures in the face of climate change , many citizens are protesting that the change would result in longer working hours for them. This is not a light claim made by the Japanese labor force, as a 2017 report by BBC News revealed that most individuals in the nation clock in more than 80 hours of overtime each month. Related: Japan wants to make 2020 Olympic medals from recycled smartphones Japan has not used the daylight savings system since the U.S. Occupation following World War II from 1948 until 1952. The event, a sour subject for many Japanese, also impeded initiatives during the 1970s and early 2000s to return to the system in the hopes of conserving energy in the country. The 2020 Summer Olympics are set to be held in Tokyo from July 24 until August 9, 2020, followed by the Paralympics from August 25 until September 6. As these are typically the hottest months of the year and likely to become hotter with global warming , the decision to enforce daylights savings time in Japan weighs very precariously in the balance for now. + 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics Via Reuters and  The Japan Times Image via T-Mizo

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