France plans to make recycled plastic bottles less expensive

August 14, 2018 by  
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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  
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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

Why we need a corporate kick to reboot sustainable public policy

July 30, 2018 by  
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It’s up to companies and their industry associations to kick things into high gear.

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Why we need a corporate kick to reboot sustainable public policy

Sweden is on track to meet its 2030 renewable energy goals this year

July 9, 2018 by  
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Sweden’s ambitious goal to provide renewable and affordable energy by 2030 is expected to become reality a little ahead of schedule. The Swedish Wind Power Association (SWPA) says its members are on track to generate 18 terawatt-hours of electricity every year by the end of 2018, making it possible for the nation to reach its renewable energy goals 12 years early. In 2015, Sweden joined with 16 other world powers to develop the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development . The plan focused around four parts: humanitarian development, environmental sustainability , long-term economic planning and advancing peace. With this framework, Sweden developed a 17-part plan to end poverty, provide clean water and sanitation and combat global climate change. Related: Nearly all new US energy capacity came from solar and wind in early 2018 While many of the plans are still in progress, at least one could be achieved in 2018. Representing Sweden’s wind energy industry, the SWPA projects the number of wind turbines alone could provide clean and affordable power to the nation as soon as December. The organization says 3,681 wind turbines will be operational across the country by the final days of the year. This would fulfill two goals of the Swedish energy plan : ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy service and substantially increase the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. If the energy industry hits the projections, the future is bright for the Nordic nation. The additional power boost comes as demand for energy access is set to spike. According to the International Energy Agency, electricity needs could jump by up to 37 percent worldwide over the next 22 years. To help developing nations answer their electricity needs, Sweden’s next major milestones are to double renewable energy efficiency rates, partner with other countries to improve renewable energy and supply energy to the world’s least developed nations and islands. Via Business Live and  Bloomberg Image via Timmy L.

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Sweden is on track to meet its 2030 renewable energy goals this year

The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018

June 18, 2018 by  
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The City of London, the historic “Square Mile” central district of London , will soon switch to clean energy in a big way. Starting in October 2018, the City of London will source 100 percent of its power needs from renewable energy sources by installing solar panels on local buildings, investing in larger solar and wind projects and purchasing clean energy from the grid. Though no longer a square mile, closer now to 1.12 square miles, the City of London is a major financial center within the city and the world. Its green energy transformation sends a clear message that London intends to take strong action against climate change. In its plans to transform the neighborhood’s energy system, the City of London Corporation will partner with several sites throughout London, such as schools , social housing, markets and 11,000 acres of green space , at which renewable energy capacity will be installed. “Sourcing 100 percent renewable energy will make us cleaner and greener, reducing our grid reliance, and running some of our buildings on zero carbon electricity,” Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee Catherine McGuinness said in a statement . “We are always looking at the environmental impact of our work and hope that we can be a beacon to other organisations to follow suit.” Related: London considers car-free days to fight air pollution The City of London is among the many municipalities around the world that are stepping up to fulfill the pledges made in the Paris Agreement , even when national governments are not doing enough. “By generating our own electricity and investing in renewables, we are doing our bit to help meet international and national energy targets,” McGuinness said. “This is a big step for the City Corporation and it demonstrates our commitment to making us a more socially and environmentally responsible business.” Via CleanTechnica Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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The Agraloop turns food waste into sustainable clothing fibers

June 18, 2018 by  
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Don’t throw it out — throw it on. The Agraloop Bio-Refinery , a new technology developed by materials science company Circular Systems S.P.C. , is capable of turning food waste such as banana peels, pineapple leaves and hemp stalks into natural fiber that can be woven into clothing . “We want to enable food crops to become our primary fibers,” Circular Systems CEO and co-founder Isaac Nichelson told Fast Company . The waste materials mentioned, plus sugar cane and flax stalk, could generate up to 250 million tons of fiber each year if processed through the Agraloop, meeting the global demand for fiber two and a half times over. Farmers are encouraged to acquire their own Agraloop systems, so that they may earn extra income from creating natural, sustainable fiber from materials they would otherwise compost . While the Agraloop is a novel technology, its values are aligned with the clothing industry’s past. In 1960, 97 percent of the fibers used to produce clothing came from natural sources. Today, only 35 percent is naturally sourced. The return to natural form for the fashion industry is desperately needed in a moment where many acknowledge the need for reform within the industry, from its labor practices to its environmental impact. Related: Biotech company Nanollose could offer plant-free alternatives for the textile industry “Right now, it’s so extractive and so destructive, and we’re looking at these resources becoming more and more finite as the population grows,” Nichelson said. “If there’s not collective and very swift action, it’s going to be catastrophic for the industry from an economic standpoint.” Enter the Agraloop. “[It’s a] regenerative system that uses plant-based chemistry and plant-based energy to upgrade the fibres whilst enriching the local communities and creating a new economic system,” Nichelson explained. Ultimately, a move towards sustainability will be beneficial for both the environment and those seeking to make a profit. Nichelson said, “All of our industries need to be retrofitted for real sustainability and become regenerative by nature, and it will be better for business.” + Circular Systems Via EcoWatch and Fast Company Image via  Depositphotos

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California makes huge investment in ‘widespread transportation electrification’

June 1, 2018 by  
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Even as the U.S. turns away from clean energy, California continues to charge ahead. Empowering the largest investment in the U.S.  by the electric industry to transform a transportation system, the California Public Utilities Commission has approved a collective budget of $738 million for four utility companies to “accelerate widespread transportation electrification.” This move, required by a 2015 clean energy law in California, marks an important step toward developing comprehensive infrastructure to switch transportation from fossil fuels to clean electric power. The unprecedented investment follows the recent approval of 15 pilot programs that, with a collective budget of $43 million, aim to electrify transit buses , school buses, cranes, agricultural trucks, delivery trucks, airport equipment and other vehicles. The pilot programs will run over the course of a year, while the major initiative will unfold over several years. These programs specifically look to benefit communities that have historically suffered under hazardous levels of air pollution, a public health threat that the widespread adoption of electric vehicles will alleviate. The initiative will fund, among other things, new charging stations, related infrastructure and services for installing new charging stations in homes. Related: Southern California is losing its clouds, increasing the risk of more intense wildfires These new initiatives in California have received broad support from stakeholders in the state, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, General Motors and the Sierra Club. Although the link between transportation and utility companies may traditionally seem weak, the Commission under California state law determined that the electric vehicle programs serve the utility customer’s interests by offering more reliable, less expensive service. With its most recent investment in the future of transportation, California seems poised to be a leader in clean energy for many years to come. Via NRDC Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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California makes huge investment in ‘widespread transportation electrification’

Endangered shark fins discovered on a Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong

June 1, 2018 by  
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Hong Kong is the biggest trading hub for shark fins in the world. Although they’ve taken steps to halt illegal trading, conservation group Sea Shepherd recently uncovered a shipment with fins from endangered sharks that arrived via a Singapore Airlines flight for a Hong Kong dried seafood company. Sea Shepherd said the fins came from whale sharks and possibly oceanic whitetip sharks. Endangered shark fins arrived in a 2,150-pound shipment marked ‘Dry Seafood’ for Win Lee Fung Ltd . The shipment came from Colombo, Sri Lanka by way of Singapore. Singapore Airlines bans shark fin cargo and said they’d sent a reminder to all stations to administer sampling checks on shipments with such a label. They also said they blacklisted the shipper. Sea Shepherd Asia director Gary Stokes told Reuters , “This is another case of misleading and deceiving. The shipment came declared as ‘dried seafood’ so [it] didn’t flag any alarms.” Related: 500-mile-long shark highway could become a protected wildlife corridor Shark fins can be imported in Hong Kong, but for species listed by the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), there must be a permit. The species discovered in the shipment were CITES Appendix 2 species and were concealed among legal fins. Sea Shepherd said smugglers operate by utilizing a vague description — and as Hong Kong Customs is barely able to check 1 percent of containers arriving in the territory, a shipment with a label like ‘Dry Seafood’ could easily escape notice. “Sea Shepherd Global have asked the Hong Kong Government for a mandatory use of the international Harmonized Shipping Codes for all wildlife products at time of booking for any goods destined to Hong Kong,” Sea Shepherd said in its statement. “Only then would Hong Kong Customs and [Agricultural, Fishers & Conservation Department] stand a fighting chance to have more effective inspections on containers when they know the contents before they arrive.” As of now, shark fin smugglers only have to declare what was in a shipment 14 days after it has arrived in Hong Kong or pay a penalty of around $10. The World Wildlife Fund said around 100 million sharks could be killed every year, and they’re frequently targeted for their fins. + Sea Shepherd Via Reuters Images courtesy of Sea Shepherd Global

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Endangered shark fins discovered on a Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong

Canada set to purchase Kinder Morgan pipeline for $4.5 billion

May 30, 2018 by  
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The Canadian government is planning to buy the Trans Mountain oil pipeline from major energy corporation Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion in an effort to secure its construction. The controversial project, which would triple the current capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline and run from the tar sands of Alberta to the Pacific Coast, is a major priority for Ottawa . The pipeline has suffered delays due to opposition from indigenous communities and environmental groups. Alberta and British Columbia have also been at odds over the potential environmental risks of the project. With the Canadian government’s financial and political support, the project is more likely to move forward. The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project would vastly increase Canada’s ability to export oil to Asia. Canada possesses the world’s third largest oil reserves, but 99 percent of its oil exports are sold in the U.S.  While the government’s takeover of the project has reassured its backers that it will be built, with construction starting in August, it also raises the stakes for Ottawa. “It’s a chess move that allows the project to proceed and positions it as a national interest,” infrastructure expert Matti Siemiatycki told the Guardian . “[But] it’s also highly risky because now the government bears the risk.” The government intervention to save the project is based on the idea that investing in oil today will pay off in the future, something that is far from certain. “The pipeline expansion presumes there’s going to be a high demand for oil going forward for decades — but there’s significant risk that that may not prevail because of changing technologies and changing demand,” explained Siemiatycki. Related: The Keystone Pipeline leak was nearly twice as big as we thought Meanwhile, environmental and indigenous groups continue their opposition. “The cost that they did not calculate in their $4.5 billion purchase is that Indigenous frontlines will stop this pipeline,” Tsleil-Waututh member and Coast Salish Watch House spokesperson Will George said in a statement. “The Watch House will continue to stand in the way of pipeline development, and I will continue to meet the responsibility passed on to me by my ancestors to protect the water and land.” In a statement, Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema asserted that “Trudeau is gambling billions of Canadian taxpayer dollars on an oil project that will never be built — a project that Kinder Morgan itself has indicated is ‘untenable’ and that faces more than a dozen lawsuits, crumbling economics and a growing resistance movement that is spreading around the world.” Even with government support, it remains to be seen whether the project will ultimately be completed. Via the Guardian Images via Bureau of Land Management Alaska (1, 2) and William Chen

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The United Kingdom might soon create new national parks

May 29, 2018 by  
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In an op-ed for The Telegraph , United Kingdom Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced a new review process which could result in creating new national parks in England. Nearly 70 years after the creation of the first British national parks , Gove wrote that “the time is right” to consider creating new protected areas in the United Kingdom. As the human population grows and natural habitats decline, he wrote that the British people should “look afresh at these landscapes” and determine how best to preserve them for future generations. Aware of concerns amidst an ongoing national policy of austerity , Gove emphasized that the review’s mission was not to cut the conservation of nature but to “strengthen it in the face of present-day challenges.” The first national parks in the U.K., the Peak District, Lake District, Snowdonia and Dartmoor, were founded in 1951. England currently has 10 national parks while Wales and Scotland host three and two, respectively. “The creation of national parks almost 70 years ago changed the way we view our precious landscapes — helping us all access and enjoy our natural world,” Gove wrote. “We want to make sure they are not only conserved, but enhanced for the next generation.” Related: General Electric to debut world’s largest wind turbine in UK Gove has appointed former governor aide and journalist Julian Glover to lead the review process. “I want Julian explicitly to consider how we can extend and improve the protection we give to other precious landscapes,” Gove wrote. “Are we properly supporting all those who live in, work in, or want to visit these magnificent places? Should we indeed be extending our areas of designated land ?” Conservationists have praised Gove’s decision, though they say that more must be done. WWF campaigns director Tony Juniper told the BBC , “ Nature will continue to be at risk unless we have a plan for its recovery enshrined in law — through a new Environment Act that’s backed by a strong watchdog with real power to enforce.” + The Telegraph Via BBC Images via Paul Morris and Klim Levene

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