Posts

Winners Change the Course of Climate Change

Aguas Andinas, Chile’s largest water utility company, is making Santiago’s three wastewater treatment plants into "biofactories” that convert wastewater and sewer sludge into clean energy. All three treatment plants will be zero waste, energy self-sufficient, and carbon neutral by 2022. (Photo courtesy Aguas Andinas)

Aguas Andinas, Chile’s largest water utility company, is making Santiago’s three wastewater treatment plants into “biofactories” that convert wastewater and sewer sludge into clean energy. All three treatment plants will be zero waste, energy self-sufficient, and carbon neutral by 2022. (Photo courtesy Aguas Andinas)

By Sunny Lewis

BONN, Germany, November 13, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – From a mobile app that fights food waste and hunger to a government that is taking 100 percent responsibility for its greenhouse gas emissions, 15 projects from around the world are demonstrating how fresh ideas, large and small, can change the course of climate change.

“These activities shine a light on scalable climate action around the world,” said Patricia Espinosa of Brazil, executive secretary of UN Climate Change . “They are proof that climate action isn’t only possible, it’s innovative, it’s exciting and it makes a difference.”

Human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, have triggered a change in the Earth’s climate system that could leave the planet uninhabitable before the end of this century, warns the latest scientific evaluation from hundreds of scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

And only human activities that protect the climate can reverse that calamitous course.

“Climate action leaders, including those recognized by the Momentum for Change initiative, are stepping up to meet the global climate challenge by delivering on the Paris Agreement,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

“These inspirational leaders, from communities, governments, businesses and organizations, come from all corners of the globe and all levels of society,” Guterres said. “Their winning projects range from transformative financial investments to women-led solutions to protect people and the planet.”

“Through their leadership and creativity, we see essential change,” said the UN chief.

The Momentum for Change initiative, advanced by the UN Climate Change secretariat, illuminates some of the most practical examples of what people are doing to combat climate change.

“There is an enormous groundswell of activities underway across the globe that are moving the world toward a highly resilient, low-carbon future. Momentum for Change recognizes innovative and transformative solutions that address both climate change and wider economic, social and environmental challenges,” UN Climate Change said in a statement.

The 2018 Lighthouse Activities were selected by an international advisory panel as part of the secretariat’s Momentum for Change initiative, which is implemented with the support of The Rockefeller Foundation, and operates in partnership with the World Economic Forum, Masdar’s Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy Forum (WiSER) initiative, and Climate Neutral Now.

The 15 projects were chosen from more than 560 applications from businesses and governments, communities and nongovernmental organizations throughout the world.

Each of the 15 winning projects, called Lighthouse Activities, falls within one of Momentum for Change’s four focus areas: Planetary Health, Climate Neutral Now, Women for Results and Financing for Climate Friendly Investment.

They will be showcased in a series of special events during this year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) taking place December 2-14 in Katowice, Poland.

The 2018 Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities are:

Planetary Health

* Climate-Efficient School Kitchens and Plant-Powered Pupils | Germany: ProVeg International is providing healthy, climate-friendly meals in German schools. ProVeg International wants animal agriculture placed on the agenda for COP24, saying, “Animal agriculture is one of the world’s largest contributors to climate change. This issue must be prioritized at COP24.”

  • Santiago Biofactory | Chile: Aguas Andinas, Chile’s largest water utility company together with its main shareholder SUEZ, is transforming Santiago’s three wastewater treatment plants into “biofactories” that convert wastewater and sewer sludge, a wastewater treatment by-product, into clean energy.
  • Composting Waste Treatment: An Ecological Solution to Poverty and Climate Change | Haiti: Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) is building composting toilets in Haiti, reducing the spread of diseases like cholera and typhoid, creating jobs, and restoring local environments.
  • Sri Lanka Mangrove Conservation Project | Sri Lanka: Seacology, a nonprofit environmental conservation organization, is helping Sri Lanka become the first nation in history to preserve and replant all of its mangrove forests.

Climate Neutral Now

  • Creating the Greenest Football Club in the World – Forest Green Rovers | United Kingdom: The Forest Green Rovers is bringing eco-thinking and technology to a new and large audience: football fans. In 2010, the team began its journey to becoming the world’s first carbon neutral football club. In 2017 FGR became the world’s first vegan football club because of the huge environmental and animal welfare impacts of livestock farming, as well as to improve player performance and give fans healthier, tastier food on matchdays. The club has since been described by FIFA, as “the world’s greenest football club.”
  • Monash’s Net Zero Initiative | Australia: Monash University, Australia’s largest university, has committed to reach net zero emissions by 2030 for all four of its Australian campuses.
  • Klimanjaro – Climate Neutral Supply Chain | Norway: Fjordkraft, the second largest electricity retailer in Norway, is using its purchasing power to inspire all its suppliers to be climate neutral by 2019.
  • Carbon Neutral Government Program | Canada: In 2010, the province of British Columbiabecame the first government at the provincial, territorial, or state level in North America to take 100 percent responsibility for the greenhouse gas pollution from all 128 of its public-sector organizations. B.C. is committed to reaching its 2050 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 2007 levels.

Women for Results

  • Yalla Let’s Bike Initiative | Syria: With the Yalla Let’s Bike Initiative women are defying traditional gender roles and combatting overcrowded streets by promoting bicycling as a healthy and sustainable mode of transportation in the war-torn city of Damascus.
  • Women Leading a Food Sharing Revolution! | UK, Sweden, USA: Women are leading a food revolution with OLIO, the world’s only neighbor-to-neighbor food sharing app. OLIO is co-founded and led by women and two-thirds of the app’s users are women.
A Syrian woman participates in a Yalla Let’s Bike event in the city of Damascus. September 1, 2018 (Photo courtesy Yalla Let’s Bike Initiative) Posted for media use

A Syrian woman participates in a Yalla Let’s Bike event in the city of Damascus. September 1, 2018 (Photo courtesy Yalla Let’s Bike Initiative) Posted for media use

Between 33-50 percent of all food produced globally is never eaten, and the value of this wasted food is worth over US$1 trillion annually.

OLIO points out that it takes a land mass larger than China to grow the food each year that is never eaten – land deforested, species driven to extinction, indigenous populations moved, soil degraded – all to produce food that we throw away. Food that is never eaten accounts for 25 percent of all fresh water consumption globally. Meanwhile 800 million people go to bed hungry every night.

  • HelpUsGreen | India: Women are creating compost from ceremonial flowers and simultaneously cleaning up the River Ganges. Through HelpUsGreen women collect 8.4 tons of floral-waste from temples in Uttar Pradesh on a daily basis. These sacred flowers are handcrafted into charcoal-free incense, organic vermicompost and biodegradable packaging material through the organization’s ‘Flowercycling®’ technology.

“Today,” says HelpUsGreen, “orthodox temples and religious authorities want to be a part of our mission -pointing to a change against a century old harmful religious practice of dumping temple-waste in the Indian rivers.”

  • Feminist Electrification: Ensuring Pro-Women Outcomes in Rural Energy Access | Haiti: Energy poverty, a lack of access to modern energy services, is disproportionally affecting women in rural areas. So, EarthSpark International, a women-run enterprise, is approaching all its energy access projects with a gender lens, referring to this as “feminist electrification.”

In 2012, EarthSpark turned on a first-of-its-kind privately operated, pre-pay microgrid in Les Anglais, Haiti, a small town that had never before had grid electricity. EarthSpark aims to build 80 microgrids in Haiti by the end of 2022.

Financing for Climate Friendly Investment

  • Rwanda Green Fund – FONERWA | Rwanda: The Rwanda Green Fund (FONERWA) is investing in public and private projects that drive transformative change. It is one of the first national environment and climate change investment funds in Africa.

The fund invests in the best public and private projects that have the potential for transformative change and that align with Rwanda’s commitment to building a strong green economy.

  • The MAIS Program | Brazil: The MAIS Program (Modulo Agroclimático Inteligente e Sustentável) is helping family agricultural operations adapt to climate change in the Jacuípe Basin, Brazil’s semi-arid region. It is one of the first ever climate-smart agricultural programs to mainstream climate disruptive technologies among farmers in Brazil.
  • Catalytic Finance Initiative | Global: Bank of America Merrill Lynch is working with partners to mobilize US$10 billion for innovative and high-impact climate mitigation and sustainability-focused investments.

Projects announced to date by Bank of America under the Catalytic Finance Initiative include new energy efficiency financing in partnership with the New York State Green Bank totaling $800 million, arranging a $204 million green project bond for wind developer Energia Eolica S.A. in Peru, and helping to structure a new $100 million facility with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

“A central way in which we are helping to build sustainable economies is through our financing of clean energy,” said Anne Finucane, vice chairman, Bank of America. “The Catalytic Finance Initiative demonstrates how all partners working together will achieve a greater collective impact.”

The UN’s Momentum for Change initiative is part of a broader effort to mobilize action and ambition as national governments work toward implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Featured Image: Tessa Cook, left, and Saasha Celestial-One, Co-founders of OLIO, the food sharing app. 2018 (Photo courtesy OLIO) Posted for media use.


163ad07d-189d-4e08-95ca-87fbc588eba2-original

Supermarkets Purge Plastic With Shoppers’ Help

Plastic Free Zone at Thornton’s Budgens showcases organic vegetables, 2018 (Photo courtesy Thornton’s Budgens) Emailed for media use.

Plastic Free Zone at Thornton’s Budgens showcases organic vegetables, 2018 (Photo courtesy Thornton’s Budgens) Emailed for media use.

LONDON, UK, November 8, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – A London supermarket today became one of the world’s first to introduce dedicated Plastic Free Zones. The Thornton’s Budgens store in Camden’s Belsize Park has assembled more than 1,700 plastic-free products and displays them in marked zones.

The zones are stocked with everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to bread, cheese and wild game such as squirrel and wild boar, as well as packaged food and drink products.

The products showcase a wealth of innovative plastic-free materials such as beechwood nets, pulp, paper, metal, glass, cellulose and cartonboard.

Signage and shelf talkers tell shoppers about the packaging to encourage them to make plastic-free choices. The zones are identified by plastic-free branding signs created by London design studio Made Thought.

The British nonprofit A Plastic Planet, a social impact movement for change, worked in partnership with Thornton’s Budgens to create Plastic Free Zones.

Sian Sutherland, A Plastic Planet co-founder, said, “Plastic is totally nuts. Thornton’s Budgens are disrupting the market and showing that wrapping something as fleeting as food in something as long-lasting as plastic is the definition of madness.”

“In just 10 weeks the store has removed plastic packaging from more than 1,500 products, finally giving their customers the choice they want,” said Sutherland. “While big retailers claim it will take 10 years to create real plastic-free change, Thornton’s Budgens has shown that we can start to wean ourselves off plastic in 10 weeks.”

A Plastic Planet has called for an urgent transformation of the UK’s entire approach to waste management. Their goal is to inspire everyone to turn off the flow of plastic.

Andrew Thornton, Thornton’s Budgens Founder, said, “As the community supermarket that really cares, we believe in taking a strong stance on major issues that affect our wellbeing and our planet.”

“The issue of plastic is one that can no longer be ignored so we’ve chosen to be the first mainstream supermarket in the UK to introduce Plastic Free Zones. This means our customers will be able to do a comprehensive shop without the need to use any plastic packaging.”

“Our aim is to show the big supermarkets that it is not as difficult to go plastic-free as they think,” said Thornton. “If we with our limited resources in 10 weeks can introduce more than a thousand plastic-free products just imagine what the major chains could achieve.”

A Plastic Planet is calling for the Conservative minority government of Theresa May to use the new UK plastics tax to fund a national infrastructure that mandates both recycling and composting.

On October 30, the May Government announced a tax on plastic packaging. The tax will apply to any business that produces or imports plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30 percent recycled content.

The government proposed the new tax in its autumn budget. Revenues from the tax will be used to address single-use plastics, waste and litter.

In addition, the UK announced 20 million pounds in funding to increase recycling and combat plastic waste.

The announcement follows the UK’s ban on plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds as part of a growing effort to decrease the country’s plastic pollution and protect its rivers and seas. These single-use items are only used for a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down.

The government says the ban on plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds follows its success in charging for single-use plastic bags, which has resulted in an 86 percent decrease in plastic bag distribution in supermarkets.

Plastic-free shops are popping up elsewhere too.

The world’s first plastic-free supermarket aisle was unveiled in Amsterdam, Netherlands in February.

With nearly 700 plastic-free goods to select from at one of the branches of Ekoplaza, a Dutch supermarket chain, the aisle gives shoppers the opportunity to buy their groceries in “new compostable bio-materials as well as traditional materials” such as glass, metal and cardboard.

Sutherland said the aisle is “a symbol of what the future of food retailing will be.”

“We totally understand what we’re asking for is highly inconvenient – it’s difficult,” she told CNN. “However, it’s indefensible for us to continue to wrap up our perishable food and drink in this indestructible material of plastic. So everybody knows now that progress has to be made.”

Ekoplaza, which has 74 stores across the Netherlands, intends to introduce the plastic-free aisle across all its branches.

In Vancouver, the first package-free grocery store in Canada, Nada, was incorporated in 2015 after marine biologist Brianne Miller had an idea that would completely change her relationship with food.

Miller had seen firsthand the masses of harmful plastic swirling around in ocean gyres, much of it food packaging waste. She realized that even the most ethical, local, and organic stores were still caught in a cycle of waste. So, she created Nada – a different kind of store – with no plastic packaging at all.

The first customer to shop at waste-free NADA Cafe, East Vancouver, Canada. Founder Brianne Miller, center, in black. October 22, 2018 (Photo courtesy NADA) Posted for media use.

The first customer to shop at waste-free NADA Cafe, East Vancouver, Canada. Founder Brianne Miller, center, in black. October 22, 2018 (Photo courtesy NADA) Posted for media use.

Nada operated with just pop-up shops for the first two years, then launched its first retail store in 2017.

Customers bring their own containers to stock up on local, fresh, responsibly-sourced, and organic groceries and personal care items. They use Nada’s digital smart scales to weigh and label their purchases and automatically deduct the weight of the containers.

Not only do shoppers reduce their packaging waste, they waste less food by buying only what they need. This saves them money – an average of C$1,500 per family per year, Nada claims.

On october 22, Nada opened a waste-free cafe at the store and in the first two weeks diverted 950 single-use containers/paper bags and 740 disposable cups from the waste stream.

In Toronto, Canada’s largest city, a new package-free goods store, Bare Market opened its first pop-up shop June 27 at the Bathurst-Finch Hub’s Farmers’ Market.

“You can get basically anything you need like at a grocery store or supermarket, but all package free,” says Maya Goodwill, a Bare Market spokesperson.

Founder Dayna Stein was inspired to launch Bare Market while living in Vancouver, where she shopped at the city’s first refill shop, The Soap Dispensary.

Bare Market encourages shoppers to bring their own containers. If people forget their containers, they can purchase them from Bare Market, or borrow a reusable container for a refundable fee.

Bare Market hopes to open a permanent location in 2019. Until then, they’ll be popping up all over Toronto.

Zero-waste shops are catching on all across the United States. Celia Ristow, the co-founder of the grassroots group Zero-Waste Chicago, has started the website Litterless, which features a state-by-state directory of U.S. grocery stores featuring foods in bulk that permit shoppers to bring their own packaging.

On her blog, Ristow speaks of the joys of plastic-free living, “The most unexpected benefit of zero waste for me has been how much it has meant learning to lean on myself, my friends, and my community, and how much doing so has improved my life. So much of what is sold to us as convenience can have the effect of encouraging us to believe we can’t do things for ourselves, that the things we need can only be found in stores. Choosing to try to buy less and to waste less means taking back some of that power.”

Featured Image: Thornton’s Budgens supermarket bakes its own bread in house and packages it in paper to cut down on plastic waste. 2018 (Photo courtesy Thornton’s Budgens) Emailed for media use.


163ad07d-189d-4e08-95ca-87fbc588eba2-original

Grappling With an Avalanche of Waste

 Electronic waste viewed by a delegation from Zimbabwe that visited the Rwanda Green Fund - FONERWA - to learn about the fund's structure and operations. They toured some of the fund's investments: low carbon construction materials with Zero Carbon Designs and the E-Waste Recycling Facility. June 14, 2018 (Photo by Rwanda Green Fund) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

Electronic waste viewed by a delegation from Zimbabwe that visited the Rwanda Green Fund – FONERWA – to learn about the fund’s structure and operations. They toured some of the fund’s investments: low carbon construction materials with Zero Carbon Designs and the E-Waste Recycling Facility. June 14, 2018 (Photo by Rwanda Green Fund) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

By Sunny Lewis

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 9, 2018 ((Maximpact.com News) – Due to the growing volume of plastic waste now being produced and the plastic waste import ban imposed by China on December 31, 2017, plastic wastes, primarily from Europe, Japan, and North America, are now adrift on the global market. They have been arriving in the ports of countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia in alarming amounts.

The plastic scrap is often contaminated and mixed in ways that makes it difficult or impossible to recycle, so it ends up being dumped or burned openly in the recipient countries, creating toxic emissions and terrestrial and marine pollution.

In the first five months of 2018, Thailand had already seized 30,000 container loads of plastic scrap in their ports and was forced to impose an emergency import ban.

Governments worldwide are struggling with an avalanche of waste and coming up with solutions, large and small.

The most recent meeting of the world’s only international treaty on waste control ended with expressions of widespread and growing support for a proposal by Norway to add plastics to the list of wastes subject to the trade controls under the treaty, known as the Basel Convention.

The proposal, made at a September meeting in Geneva, is seen as a key mechanism to stem the tide of marine debris and plastic litter. It would add plastic waste to the list of wastes that require notification by exporting countries and consent by importing countries before export.

“Southeast Asia is already being hit hard by a tsunami of plastic waste,” said Von Hernandez, global coordinator of the Break Free from Plastic movement. “The Norwegian proposal to place plastic scrap under Basel controls will be a significant first step to protect Southeast Asia and developing countries everywhere from becoming the trash bins of the developed world.”

Many countries voiced their support for the Norwegian proposal on the floor of the meeting, including: China, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Libya, Maldives, Malaysia, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Senegal, South Africa, State of Palestine, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, and Uruguay.

While there was broad support for the proposal, Canada, Japan, Australia and the European Union are seeking to block, delay or water down the proposal.

“The severity of the plastic pollution problem and its impacts on human health and the environment are undeniable and require urgent action. We cannot let a few countries or industry sectors prevent much-needed and in fact overdue action from the global community,” says David Azoulay, senior attorney for the Center for International Environmental Law.

The meeting also recommended the creation of a multi-stakeholder global partnership on the minimization of plastic waste. Both proposals – partnership and trade control – will go to the 14th Conference of the Parties of the Basel Convention for a decision in April 2019.

“The Basel Convention is uniquely positioned to take a leadership role in stemming the flood tide of plastic waste now engulfing the entire planet,” said Jim Puckett, director of the Basel Action Network, based in Seattle, Washington.

“They can do this not only by controlling unwanted trade, but by promoting steps to minimize the production of single-use and other unsustainable plastic products,” said Puckett. “We are thrilled that this week’s meeting has clearly signaled a turning of the tide.”

In VTT’s PlastBug projects, microbes are being screened through a three-stage process. (Photo courtesy VTT) Posted for media use

In VTT’s PlastBug projects, microbes are being screened through a three-stage process. (Photo courtesy VTT) Posted for media use

Cleaning the Oceans of Plastic Waste

To help cleanse the world’s oceans of the tons of plastic waste that have gathered in swirling gyres, the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a mobile container unit called PlastBug. The unit acts to remove plastics from the water and treat them with microbes to turn them into useable chemicals.

“Our idea is to design a mobile container where microbes degrade plastic waste to valuable products like fuels or chemicals,” says Kari Koivuranta, principal scientist at VTT.

The small, container-based factories could be placed in areas where centralized plastic waste collecting or recycling is not possible. The container factories could be located on a beach or ship.

The factory units would get most of the energy needed for the process from solar energy and wind power.

The goal is for the pilot unit to operate on the Baltic Sea in 2021, but funding still needs to be secured for the realization of this plan.

The Urban Mining chart of tungsten alloys placed on the market per country in tonnes for all collection categories is an example of the multitude of charts offered by the ProSUM consortium. 2018 (Image courtesy ProSUM) Posted for public use

The Urban Mining chart of tungsten alloys placed on the market per country in tonnes for all collection categories is an example of the multitude of charts offered by the ProSUM consortium. 2018 (Image courtesy ProSUM) Posted for public use

Building With Waste Materials

A growing scarcity of resources, along with the desire to move away from today’s throwaway mentality, means that the building sector must give more thought to the multiple use and recyclability of materials, as well as to alternative methods of construction.

A residential module fully constructed from reusable, recyclable, and compostable materials is the premise for the newest unit in NEST, the modular research and innovation building run by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Dübendorf.

On February 8, the NEST Urban Mining & Recycling unit opened its doors to house two students. At the same time, as an active lab, it is helping to advance the construction industry’s transition to a recycling economy.

The residence features structures and materials that can be fully reused, repurposed, recycled, or composted after deconstruction of the module.

The concept was designed by Werner Sobek with Dirk Hebel and Felix Heisel. Sobek is director of the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design at the University of Stuttgart.

Hebel is the director and Heisel is the head of research at the Chair of Sustainable Construction at Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Future Cities Laboratory at the Singapore-ETH Center, established in 2010 by two Swiss government agencies that conduct high tech research.

“The ongoing, sustained growth of the global population as well as dwindling resources urgently require us to do some rethinking in the construction industry,” says Sobek. “In future, we must reduce our consumption of construction materials and build for many more people.”

So, the concept of cycles must play a central role on the path to more sustainable construction. “The materials that we utilize will not just be used and then disposed of; instead they will be extracted from their cycle and later returned to it,” Hebel explains.

Database for Urban Waste Miners

In one of the more sweeping solutions to the world’s waste problems, European organizations have united to create the world’s first database of valuable materials available for urban mining from scrap vehicles, spent batteries, waste electronic and electrical equipment, and mining wastes.

The Urban Mine Platform <urbanmineplatform.eu>, created by 17 partners in project ProSUM (Prospecting Secondary Raw Materials in the Urban Mine and Mining Wastes), presents the flows of precious and base metals and critical raw materials in products in use and throughout their journey to end of life.

The database reveals the amount of valuable materials recovered or lost in the EU’s scrap vehicles, batteries, computers, phones, devices, appliances and other high tech products discarded annually – roughly 18 million tonnes in all.

The ProSUM consortium says urban mining to recover valuable critical raw materials from wastes is vital for securing ongoing supplies for manufacturing and to limit dependence on non-EU suppliers.

This platform displays all readily available data on products put on the market, stocks, composition and waste flows for electrical and electronic equipment, vehicles and batteries for all EU 28 Member States plus Switzerland and Norway. Iceland is also included for vehicles.

The EU, Norway and Switzerland generated some 10.5 million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment in 2016 – about 23 percent of the world total. In addition, two million tonnes of batteries and some seven to eight million tonnes of EU vehicles reach their end-of-life each year.

All represent a rich source of secondary critical raw materials.

The recently published Global e-Waste Monitor reported that the world’s 44.7 metric tonnes of e-waste alone in 2016 contained €55 billion worth of precious metals and other high value materials.

The Urban Mine Platform contains data for elements and materials in high abundance in these waste products, mainly base metals, precious metals, and critical raw materials.

Dynamic charts on the Urban Mine Platform offer detailed data and market intelligence on The number and type of products placed on the market, in-stock, and generated as waste. The compositions of key components, materials and elements, such as aluminum, copper, gold or neodymium are given, in batteries, electronic and electrical equipment (EEE), and vehicles.

Pascal Leroy, secretary general of the WEEE Forum, a Brussels-based not-for-profit association and ProSUM project coordinator says, “Three years in the making, this consolidated database is the world’s first ‘one stop shop’ knowledge data platform on CRMs in waste products – easy to access, structured, comprehensive, peer-reviewed, up-to-date, impartial, broad in scope, standardized and harmonized, and verifiable.”

Featured Image: Plastic bottles in Findon, Adelaide, South Australia, April 17, 2018 (Photo by Michael Coghlan) Creative Commons license via Flickr


Refugees_Mirgrants

Tidal Wave of Foreign Trash Hits Thailand

 Searching the housands of containers at Thai ports for illegal waste shipments is a monumental task. While there has been shipping along the Chao Phraya River for centuries, construction of Bangkok Port was started in 1938. Construction of Laem Chabang Port on Thailand's Eastern Seaboard, now much larger than Bangkok Port, was begun in 1987. (Photo by Guido Vanhaleweyk) Posted for media use.

Searching the housands of containers at Thai ports for illegal waste shipments is a monumental task. While there has been shipping along the Chao Phraya River for centuries, construction of Bangkok Port was started in 1938. Construction of Laem Chabang Port on Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard, now much larger than Bangkok Port, was begun in 1987. (Photo by Guido Vanhaleweyk) Posted for media use.

By Sunny Lewis

BANGKOK, Thailand, August 9, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Government officials in Thailand are struggling to limit a waste scandal after discovering a massive amount of plastic and electronic waste was imported to the Southeast Asian country this year, often illegally, by factories involved in recycling.

Thais have been shocked to learn that hundreds of thousands of tons of electronic waste has been shipped into the country since China decided to stop taking waste from wealthy countries at the end of 2017.

The waste scandal became public in late May after Thai police raided a waste management plant in Chachoengsao, east of Bangkok, after claims that hazardous waste smuggled from abroad was being burned at the facility.

Media reports show that untrained and unregistered migrant workers paid just 9,000 baht a month (US$272) were handling toxic items and burning electronic circuit boards, exposing themselves and the environment to heavy-metal contamination.

The Chinese owner of the plant was accused of importing potentially dangerous waste under false Customs declarations, the U.S. publication “The Nation” reported in a June 11 article. Foreigners were smuggling trash and declaring it as second-hand goods, police said.

The revelation led to other illegal waste sites being raided. Officials admitted they often had “no idea what kind of waste is toxic” or how to deal with it.

More than 210,000 metric tons of waste was found to have been imported from 35 countries in the first five months of this year, Thai police said.

Fears that Thailand – or “Trashland” as some cynics have labeled it – could become the new dumping ground for the world’s electronic waste. That spurred concern about the long-term toxic hazards from waste piled up at e-waste dumps.

The world is generating more e-waste than ever. Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, “Global Waste Recycling Market Outlook, 2018,” reveals that close to 48.2 million tonnes of eWaste was generated in 2017, of which only 20 to 25 percent was documented to be collected and recycled. The remaining waste was either landfilled or disposed of unsafely or illegally in countries like Thailand.

This scenario is likely to persist in the absence of stringent regulations, closed-loop supply chains, and greater producer responsibility. China made a market-altering decision when it announced a ban on the import of 24 categories of recyclables and solid waste by the end of 2017.

This decision will force the world’s biggest waste importers, which include the UK, the US, Europe, and Japan, to build new recycling infrastructure in their own facilities or look to other Southeast Asian countries for waste management.

On June 1, four containers packed with plastic waste were found in eastern Bangkok. By the third week of June, nearly 20 illegal waste sites had been raided and there was speculation that legal changes brought in by the military government had opened the door to the “surge in foreign trash,” because such facilities could now be set up anywhere regardless of an area’s zoning.

A representative from Greenpeace said, “Electronic waste (e-waste) can be used as fuel in waste incinerators, as well as unrecyclable plastic. This order has eased restrictions for incinerators and waste factories.”

The NGO ReReef Thailand, which wants to build a business case for sustainability based on the vulnerabilities of the country’s coral reefs, said, “The substance never disappears … Since the beginning of plastic production, about 60 years ago, 6.3 billion tons of plastic never really gone. Less than 10 percent of recycled materials mean that more than five billion tons of plastic has become waste in the environment. It has become one of the most important environmental crises of this era.”

Concerned about the scale of the problem, and media reports that perhaps that national politicians had been involved in the illegal trade in waste, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said there may no longer be imports of foreign waste to Thailand.

The licenses of five importers were suspended after they were found to have hired illegal factories to recycle waste.

Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda said the government will establish a multi-agency panel to work out how to regulate garbage from other countries. “It’s not just e-waste but also other types of garbage,” he said. “If the trash does not benefit the country and causes negative impact and burdens, we won’t allow it to be imported.”

Meanwhile, about 400 containers thought to contain electronic waste, plastic and discarded metal are now sitting abandoned at ports in Bangkok and Laem Chabang. Customs officials have warned that if they are not claimed within 15 days, they will dispose of these containers and their contents or send them back to where they came from – countries such as the United States, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and China.

All of this disruption has triggered a warning from a U.S. environmental group that the experience Thailand has gone through could happen to many countries in South and Southeast Asia.

Basel Ban Amendment Close to Becoming Law

The Seattle-based NGO Basel Action Network said Monday that developing countries could be “hit by a tidal wave of electronic and plastic waste” if they don’t move to ban the import of such waste by ratifying an international agreement called the Basel Ban Amendment.

This change to the Basel Convention, an existing treaty agreed by 194 countries, would make it illegal to export hazardous and electronic waste from developed countries such as those in the European Union to poorer states.

The Basel Action Network says most e-waste from North America and Europe is exported to Asia – to Hong Kong, and increasingly to Thailand and Pakistan.

“Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka have ratified the agreement, but Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam have not,” said the Basel Action Network in a statement.

“It is especially ironic that while the Thai government is rightly very concerned about the dumping on their territory, they have not made a move as yet to ratify the Ban Amendment. The Ban Amendment is but three ratifications short of going into the force of international law.”

New Technology Could Relieve Waste Burden

“The waste recycling market, like its end-user industries, is experiencing disruptive changes due to the advent of advanced digital technologies,” said Deepthi Kumar Sugumar, Frost & Sullivan research analyst. For example, smart waste bins with Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities will play a significant role in changing the way waste is collected and sorted.”

Using an ultrasonic sensor, an Internet of Things system gives a real time indicator of the garbage level in any trash can at any given moment. Using that data garbage companies can then optimize waste collection routes to reduce fuel consumption.

“Similarly, the rise of 3D printing technologies has made it much easier to recycle plastic waste. Many industries are turning plastics into high-quality filaments to replace spares, lowering the need for re-manufacturing,” said Sugumar.

Although technology has improved waste management considerably, market participants using these technologies will be challenged to convince industries employing conventional methods to switch to modern systems. They need to be made aware of the role novel recycling systems can play in enabling a circular economy, said Sugumar.

Meanwhile, the use of cutting-edge technologies is giving rise to innovative business models such as commercial waste collection zones. These models allow haulers to invest in infrastructure improvement and introduce inventive methods for minicipal solid waste collection.

By optimizing waste collection routes, combining real-time data, and employing data-related technologies such as predictive analytics, it will be possible to eliminate the unplanned dispatch of vehicles to collect waste.

“Another important technology that could have far-reaching consequences for the waste management market is augmented reality (AR),” observed Sugumar. “AR can help any manufacturer make informed decisions to prevent waste in the first place. Though AR is still evolving, it will change the way waste reduction and management is conducted in the future.”

Featured Images: Trash at the Nonthaburi landfill, Bangkok, Thailand, February 4, 2014 (Photo by Thibaud Saintin) Creative Commons license via Flickr


Is Space Junk Polluting Space Before We Even Live There?

by Anna Kucirkova

August 2,2018 originally published (Industrial Ovens) – Scientists have predicted that the maximum number of people the Earth can sustain is somewhere between nine and ten billion. Current population is estimated to hit nine billion by the year 2050. So humans have roughly 32 years before overpopulation becomes a really, really big problem.

But, where else can we go?

People around the globe have developed space agencies for exploration (think Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, etc.). There are private companies sending rockets and satellites into low orbit. We’ve been to the moon and back.

It is clear that our intention is to colonize the only place left: space.

However, can it be that easy if we have already filled space with our junk?

The Problem Of Space Pollution

NASA scientist Donald Kessler warned in a paper written in 1978, that every collision of man-made objects in space generates more shrapnel and debris as pieces fly apart on impact. The effect is cumulative, as new debris collides with other objects it creates even more debris.

Ultimately, space will become impassable because of the continuous cascade of colliding debris, including destruction of telecommunications systems and nullifying of further space launches.

Twice every year, if not more frequently, the International Space Station moves to avoid a hypothetically disastrous crash with space junk.

Estimations vary, but there are approximately 4,000 active and inactive satellites in space. They could be hit by the 500,000 bits of floating space debris, some micro-millimeters in size, all the way up to pieces the size of two double-decker buses.

Space debris encompasses both natural (meteoroid) and artificial (man-made) particles. While meteoroids orbit the sun, most man-made debris orbits the Earth. Therefore, the man-made junk is usually called orbital debris.

These include broken spacecraft, abandoned launch vehicles, manned mission-related debris, and disintegration debris.

Estimates suggest that more than 20,000 items of debris larger than a softball currently orbit the Earth. They travel up to 17,500 mph, which would allow a relatively small piece of orbital debris to seriously damage a satellite or a spacecraft. Additionally, there are 500,000 pieces of debris marble-sized or larger. There are millions of pieces of debris too small to be tracked.

“The greatest risk to space missions comes from non-trackable debris,” said Nicholas Johnson, NASA chief scientist for orbital debris. The Department of Defense sustains a hyper-accurate catalog on objects in Earth orbit bigger than a softball.

Are you starting to get the picture? There’s a lot of stuff in space that can cause serious problems for space travelers.

Space Debris and Human Spacecraft

More than 500,000 pieces of debris, or “space junk,” are tracked as they orbit the Earth.

The increasing amount of space debris multiples the danger to space vehicles, but particularly the International Space Station, space shuttles, and other spacecraft with human passengers.

NASA monitors space debris to predict collisions and uses a long-standing set of guidelines to prepare for such events. These guidelines are part of the existing flight rules and specify that when a piece of debris becomes close enough to increase the probability of a collision, evasive action or other precautions are put in place to ensure the safety of crew members.

Often times, there is plenty of advance notice, which allows for time to move the station slightly (called a “debris avoidance maneuver”). Other times, the tracking data does not give a precise enough targeting of debris or a close pass isn’t identified in time to make orbital adjustments.

When that happens, the control centers around the world may agree to move the crew into the Soyuz spacecraft used to fly humans to and from the station. The crew would then have the ability to leave the station if a collision occurred and caused a loss of pressure in the life-supporting module or caused critical damage.

Debris avoidance moves are primarily small and occur between one and several hours prior to the predicted collision. These maneuvers with the shuttle can be planned and implemented in just a few hours. The space station requires nearly 30 hours to plan and execute moves because of the need to utilize the station’s Russian thrusters, or to activate the propulsion systems on one of the docked spacecraft.

In 2009, we witnessed the first major collision between two intact satellites — a U.S. Iridium satellite and an aging Russian Cosmos. The collision created 2,000 extra chunks of metal space debris orbiting the Earth.

A 2011 report by the National Research Council warned that Earth orbit paths may be reaching a “tipping point” where collisions will become more common. The researchers suggest that the immediate, orbital space around Earth could be 10 to 20 years away from severe issues.

The Space Pollution Facts

It is estimated that hundreds of millions of pieces of space debris float through our area of the solar system. Many are as big as trucks, while some are smaller than a fleck of paint.

NASA tracks rocket boosters, spacecraft pieces, and particles and fragments cause by space crashes or explosions are the kinds of space trash whirling around Earth up to 36,000 km per hour.

Earth’s gravitational field grabs lots of space trash and drags it into lower and lower orbits until it burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere. When space trash orbits at higher altitudes, it will remain in orbit years longer than space trash moving in orbits lower than 600 km. Scientists estimate that space trash at altitudes higher than 1,000 km above Earth’s atmosphere can continue orbiting for a hundred years or more.

Space Debris Removal

Jason Held is a scientist who has created a device he hopes will be useful in cleaning up space trash. He holds a PhD in robotics from the University of Sydney and founded the university’s space engineering laboratory. There, he built rocket engines and led space satellite development.

Held has high hopes that the device he and his team created will be able to drag space trash back down into the atmosphere for a fiery death. The module, called the DragEN, is a yo-yo like device weighing in at just under 100 grams. It can be attached to satellites and other spacecraft.

When used, DragEN unspools hundreds of meters of a conductive material that grabs onto electric and magnetic forces as it travels through the planet’s magnetic field. This force drags the trash back to Earth’s atmosphere, where it explodes.

Held cannot estimate the time it would take for a satellite in the DragEN to burn up. However, the Indian Space Research Organization will try it in space on a satellite launch planned soon.

“The satellite mission is to take photos of the earth and downlink photos,” Held says.

“At the end of its mission, the team will release the DragEN tether, which will start dragging the satellite back to Earth. We are all very interested to learn how DragEN unspools in space and how quickly or slowly it takes to come back down.”

Today, Held leads Saber Astronautics in Sydney, where he built DragEN, and he believes it will aid in the destruction of space of debris, a vital issue for space programs around the world.

And Held isn’t the only one racing to obliterate space junk. Though Australia doesn’t build spacecraft or satellite systems, it does collect data and information from space. Australian space researchers monitor roughly 29,000 pieces of space junk and warn human space dwellers of imminent collisions.

The international timeline for self-destruction of any space satellite or orbiting craft, originally set by NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office, is 25 years after operational life of a satellite ends. This remains the goal for new launches in order to limit the growing pile of space trash.

Internationally, addressing this problem is urgent; satellites worth billions of dollars are constantly threatened with collisions. We are sending craft into space more frequently than they are being destroyed.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs has worked with NASA and the European Space Agency to develop a set of guidelines on space debris mitigation. But, space archaeologist Dr. Alice Gorman, of Flinders University in Adelaide, says the voluntary UN guidelines are followed in only 40% of all missions.

Humans filled waterways, landfills, and streets with trash, so it’s no surprise the same thing happened in Earth’s orbit. Some space trash removal missions focus on dead satellites, catching them with robotic arms, spearing them with harpoons, or slowing them with sails or tethers. Smaller pieces are targeted with lasers or collected through adhesives.

There are currently several space junk removal missions on the books:

  • RemoveDebris from Britain was planned for 2017
  • Japan’s just-launched Kounotori 6 satellite, carrying the Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiment
  • e.Deorbit from the ESA is scheduled for 2023 or 2024
  • Japanese startup Astroscale is designing a debris-removal satellite planned to launch this year

Astroscale plans to demonstrate its satellite, ELSA, in October 2019. Both NASA and the ESA continue to study and develop technologies to capture and safely de-orbit non-functioning objects.

Will Space Be Clean Enough in Time?

These great advances in tracking and eliminating space junk and debris will help clear out the orbital paths around the Earth.

The primary concern is if the clearance will happen in time for our population to successfully colonize outer space. As human population grows and grows, the only viable answer for expanding our world is in settling in outer space.

What Rubbish! Europe’s New Waste Rules

Tagged wheelie bins in London, England, July 16, 2017. (Photo by Tee Cee) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Tagged wheelie bins in London, England, July 16, 2017. (Photo by Tee Cee) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

STRASBOURG, France, May 1, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – The European Parliament has formally approved higher recycling targets and new measures to reduce waste across Europe.

Environment ministers from all 28 EU countries are expected to approve the agreement in the coming weeks. Their approval must be secured before the new laws can officially be transposed into national legislation within 24 months from that moment.

The Parliament’s vote comes four months after the same laws and targets were agreed by the European Commission, Parliament and EU governments.

Under the new measures, EU countries will be required to recycle at least 55 percent of their municipal waste by 2025, 60 percent by 2030 and 65 percent by 2035.

Other approved measures include a 10 percent cap on landfills by 2035, mandatory separate collection of biowaste and stricter schemes to make producers pay for the collection of key recyclables.

Recommendations include economic incentives for reuse, deposit-return schemes, food donations and the phase out of subsidies that promote waste.

In addition to the separate collection which already exists for paper and cardboard, glass, metals and plastic, new provisions for separate collection, including of bio-waste, will boost the quality of secondary raw materials and their uptake.

Hazardous household waste will have to be collected separately by 2022, biowaste by 2023 and textiles by 2025.

“After lengthy negotiations with the Council, we have succeeded in bringing home a great result that lays new foundations for sustainable European economic and social development,” said lead MEP Simona Bonafè of Italy, a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

“Member states will be obliged to follow clear and common measures on the life cycle of raw materials and waste disposal,” she said.

“The package, in line with the United Nations’ sustainable development objectives, also reduces food waste by 50 percent and aims for a 65 percent recycling threshold by all member states. A battle that will make the economy of the Old Continent one of the most virtuous in the world,” Bonafè added.

The new package of laws and targets is a key element of the Circular Economy Action Plan the European Commission adopted in December 2015.

Environmentalists wanted the agreement to do more, but they say now it’s time to activate the new measures.

Said Piotr Barczak, waste policy officer at the European Environmental Bureau, a coalition of more than 140 environmental groups, “Cities across Europe have already made steps forward to reduce waste and improve recycling. The new laws could have been more ambitious, but their successful implementation will help governments consolidate this progress with benefits for the people and society as a whole.”

“After years of discussions, it is now time for EU countries to walk the talk on waste reduction,” said Barczak. “These laws are necessary to tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues such as pollution in our cities and environment.”

The Dublin Waste-to-Energy Plant, locally referred to as the Poolbeg Incinerator, is a waste-to-energy plant serving the Greater Dublin Area. The facility was designed to process 600,000 tonnes of waste per year and produce 60 megawatts of electricity every year, enough to heat 80,000 homes. The plant took its first delivery of waste on April 24, 2017. (Photo by William Murphy) Creative Commons license via Flickr

The Dublin Waste-to-Energy Plant, locally referred to as the Poolbeg Incinerator, is a waste-to-energy plant serving the Greater Dublin Area. The facility was designed to process 600,000 tonnes of waste per year and produce 60 megawatts of electricity every year, enough to heat 80,000 homes. The plant took its first delivery of waste on April 24, 2017. (Photo by William Murphy) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Weaker Waste Incineration Rules

A three-year process to update EU environmental standards for waste incineration plants could be about to lead to new rules that most currently operating facilities already comply with.

The latest draft even weakens some key protections compared to existing guidelines, reveals a report published April 18.

The EEB report, “A Wasted Opportunity? EU environmental standards for waste incineration plants under review” also contains a scorecard revealing the position taken by national government representatives during the drafting process.

While the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria and Belgium are commended for their efforts to raise standards, Germany, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Hungary and the Czech Republic are condemned for their efforts to weaken the new rules.

EEB technical expert Aliki Kriekouki, who has taken part in working group meetings that provided advice to those drafting the rules, said, “People in Europe expect the EU to have the world’s best environmental standards, yet after three years of work to update the rules for waste incineration, we’re stuck with a proposal that makes some progress but falls short of boosting the deployment of effective, readily available technologies that prevent or minimise harmful pollution.”

More than 80 million tons of waste is burned in Europe every year, which campaigners warn is incompatible with the aim of moving to a circular economy, where waste is prevented and products reused or recycled.

“For air pollution, maximum emissions levels have largely remained unchanged, with the levels of some critical pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and mercury being raised compared to the existing guidance. Sadly, especially for people living near these plants, it’s a clear cut case of one step forward, two steps back,” said Kriekouki.

Waste incineration plants are responsible for toxic emissions of health-harming substances including dioxins, heavy metals and particulate matter known to cause respiratory diseases, cancers, immune system damage and reproductive and developmental problems.

The EEB report calls for a tightening of levels for the emissions of key pollutants to air and water. It demands that current flexibilities be removed and that exceptions be tightened or erased. It also recommends that certain techniques be made compulsory and that the requirements to monitor harmful emissions be strengthened.

The EU sets minimum binding standards for industry as part of the Industrial Emissions Directive. Standards documents are known as BREFs. Along with industry and Member State representatives the EEB takes part in a consultation process that informs the European Commission while drafting these standards.

The current draft proposals for an updated Waste Incineration BREF to replace the last one adopted in 2006 have been under development for almost three years and will likely not need to be complied with until 2024.

This agreement further strengthens the “waste hierarchy” by placing prevention, re-use and recycling clearly above landfilling and incineration.

MEPs say managing waste in a more efficient manner is the first step towards a circular economy, where most if not all products and materials are recycled or repeatedly re-used.



Waste Management and its Challenges

Waste Management and its_Challenges

‘Jaipur cows eating trash’ Creative Commons license via Wikimedia Commons

The Importance of Integrated Sustainable Waste Management

To manage waste in an effective way appears to be one of the greatest challenges facing humanity and the planet. The ongoing trend of industrialization and economic growth have resulted in increased municipal solid waste especially in cities with high population. With recent estimates putting the global waste production from cities alone at 1.5 billion tons, and projecting an increase to 2.3 billion tons by 2025, it’s a problem that’s only going to get worse.

The concern is serious, as increasing quantity of waste negatively impacts every aspect of society. Failing to address the problem strategically and on sustainable way leads to the creation of long term environmental and public health disasters influencing national economies on entirely destructive way.

Identifying the needs

If not addressed effectively, waste generated has a negative impact on all countries regarless of their socio-economic development. However, developing countries with less developed infrastructure have further to go in order to tackle the problem. As urbanization continues to take place, the management of solid waste is becoming a major public health and environmental concern in urban areas of many developing countries.

Developing countries often display an array of problems regarding their typical waste management system, including low collection coverage and irregular collection services, unpolished open dumping and burning without air and water pollution control, and the handling and control of informal waste picking or scavenging activities. Development of effective solid waste management systems in developing countries has been even more demanding due to absence of technical, financial, institutional, economic, and social factors.

In other words, developing countries frequently suffer from the lack of human resources with technical expertise necessary for solid waste management planning and operation. This is often combined with insufficient and/or poorly managed funds allocated to resolving waste problems, as well as with weak legislation and coordination among main institutions in charge of waste issues. All these influence on low public awareness and education on waste and its devastating impact.

Where to start then and how to change existing practice? There are several crucial factors involved in identifying the needs of local communities. The adequate assessment of the composition and volume of waste can be a deciding factor in choosing an efficient way to manage its disposal. Other important measures include examining the options for introducing the most effective legislation and regulations, ensuring accessibility of waste for collection, and the existing level of public awareness.

In each country, region and community we must identify opportunities to minimize waste output. This is being addressed in many countries by building a system

Why it’s so important

When efficient waste management isn’t present the impact on the community can be devastating. The waste poses a threat to the environment. Polluted water flowing from dumps and disposal sites can cause serious pollution of the surface water, which can also impact marine life, and ultimately leads to a decline in health of the local population.

A build up of solid waste can also lead to soil contamination, especially during the rainy season, which spreads the secreted toxins at a quicker rate. Relocating waste management to areas sufficiently removed from public spaces to allow for incineration or disposal in a safe manner helps to decrease the risk of exposure to biohazards and reduces pest infestation.

Uncontrolled waste management can lead to medical and healthcare waste being mixed with household waste. This increases the risk of poisoning or injury to children and adults who are working sorting waste.

Indiscriminate burning of waste can cause major air pollution and increases greenhouse emissions. As well as the immediate affect on the local air quality, often accompanied by an increase in respiratory diseases, it also contributes to global warming.

A build up of solid waste promotes the breeding of rats, flies and mosquitos, all of which will cause the spread of disease.

How waste management can help a community

When waste management is handled properly it has several benefits for the local community. As well as avoiding the negative impact of the above problems, it can also be a vehicle for change. Through job creation and an improvement in health whole communities can be given a new lease of life.

Recycling can also be used to reduce future waste by ensuring a portion of solid waste is reused. Whether it’s on a small local scale, or a larger industrial scale, many useful things can be generated from proper waste disposal. Everything from electricity generated through incineration and composting, to furniture being built from recycled plastics, are projects being refined all over the world.

Recycling also helps to conserve local resources by reducing the need to manufacture using new raw materials.

Leading the charge in an ever-changing world

With political instability, social unrest and poverty gripping some nations, the ability to educate and implement efficient waste management can be a challenge. There are several NGOs working all over the world to identify and train key individuals, work with whole communities, and implement sustainable change within municipalities and governments.

Committed specialists with decades of experience are taking it on their own shoulders to help underdeveloped communities to take control of their own waste management, and improve their overall health and local environment in the process. They are being proactive in educating communities, arranging waste collection, and ensuring the infrastructure is in place to maximise the disposal.

Through qualified training, experts and professionals working with NGOs, communities, governments and others in waste related sector can obtain the necessary technical skills as well as training skills and how to train others in the topics.

Maximpact and qualified technical training expert in waste management has designed a training with the following objectives:

  • To demonstrate understanding of the wide range of environmental, health and social issues related to waste disposal and management
  • To understand what skills are required to prevent pollution and to transform waste back into wealth and place that wealth at the service of the community
  • To identify practical, integrated and sustainable solutions for waste management
  • To enhance practical skills of NGOs in delivering waste management projects
  • To obtain training of trainers skill sets in order for participants to carry out trainings to their communities
  • To understand how to transfer knowledge to others

 

Find out more about the training


Waste-Management-of-Training.140636

About the Training-of-Trainers in Waste Management

Your greatest asset is your knowledge.

Maximpact Trainings are carried out by a live trainer through an online conference classroom, where participants are able to ask questions, participate in discussions and conduct practical exercises.

This method of delivering training is one of the most efficient ways for you to obtain the needed knowledge within the set training days. This is perfect for those who find it difficult to set time aside to do self-paced e-courses.

Training is carried out by a technical field and training expert. This allows the participants to receive today’s most advanced information on industry practices and know-how.

Participants will acquire not only first-hand knowledge but also essential tools, tips and tricks to carry out their job tasks on the most efficient way.

The training is designed around the “Learning by Doing” methodology, where practical exercises simulating real life situations will be comprised of 60% of the training.

Upon successful completion of training you receive a certificate acknowledging your training accomplishment.

After each training, Maximpact offers post- training mentoring virtual assistance where trainees can reach out to the expert trainer for further advice and support.

Find out more

Why Training is Important?

If you were given the choice between two different pilots—one was trained, the other not—which one would you choose? But what if there was no “up-front” cost for the untrained pilot? You still wouldn’t do it? Yet many business owners do not recognize the importance of employee training.

Reasons for training are:

  • Training boosts motivation and self confidence resulting in happier staff
  • Staying up to date and ability to perform different skills will keep your value higher
  • Obtaining new knowledge and skill sets will impact positively on your performance both quantitative and qualitative
  • Increased productivity and possibly fee/salary increase

Don’t miss your opportunity to invest into your own capacity.

Register now


Maximpact_services

EU Maps Rich Resources for Urban Waste Mining

This massive salt pile is visible from the A4 Autobahn near Heringen, Germany is left over from potash mining in the region. (Photo by Gord McKenna) Creative Commons license via Flickr

This massive salt pile is visible from the A4 Autobahn near Heringen, Germany is left over from potash mining in the region. (Photo by Gord McKenna) Creative Commons license via Flickr

by Sunny Lewis

BRUSSELS, Belgium, January 19, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Gold, platinum, aluminum and copper are just a few of the valuable materials lying hidden in vast piles of waste batteries, electronic and electrical equipment (EEE), scrap vehicles and mining wastes across the European Union.

Today, for the first time, expert organizations have unveiled the world’s first European database of valuable materials available for “urban mining” from these waste heaps.

The new Urban Mine Platform , created by 17 partners in project ProSUM, which stands for Prospecting Secondary Raw Materials in the Urban Mine and Mining Wastes, presents the flows of precious and base metals and critical raw materials for products in use and throughout their journey to end of life.

The database reveals the roughly 18 million tonnes of valuable materials recovered or lost in the EU’s scrap vehicles, batteries, computers, phones, gadgets, appliances and other high tech products discarded every year.

The 28 European Union Member States, plus Norway and Switzerland, generated around 10.5 million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in 2016 – about 23 percent of the world total.

In addition, two million tonnes of batteries and some seven to eight million tonnes of EU vehicles reach their end-of-life annually. All are a rich source of secondary critical raw materials (CRMs).

Pascal Leroy is secretary general of the WEEE Forum, a Brussels-based not-for-profit association and ProSUM project coordinator.

“Three years in the making, this consolidated database is the world’s first one stop shop knowledge data platform on critical raw materials in waste products – easy to access, structured, comprehensive, peer-reviewed, up-to-date, impartial, broad in scope, standardized and harmonized, and verifiable,” said Leroy.

The recently published Global e-Waste Monitor reports that the world’s 44.7 metric tonnes of e-waste alone, not including vehicles, in 2016 contained €55 billion worth of precious metals and other high value materials.

The Urban Mine Platform contains data for elements and materials in high abundance in these waste products, mainly base metals, precious metals, and critical raw materials.

Charts offer detailed data and market intelligence on:

  • The number and type of products placed on the market, in-stock, and generated as waste
  • The compositions of key components, materials and elements, such as aluminum, copper, gold or neodymium, in batteries, electronic and electrical equipment (EEE), and vehicles
  • Waste flows, including amounts collected, estimates for small batteries and EEE in unsorted municipal solid waste, exported used vehicles, as well as the amount of vehicles, batteries and EEE of unknown whereabouts.

The ProSUM consortium says “urban mining” to recover valuable CRMs from wastes is vital for securing ongoing supplies for manufacturing and limit dependence on non-EU suppliers.

To that end, the project partners created from over 800 source documents and databases what they call “a state of the art knowledge base, using best available data in a harmonized and updateable format, which allows the recycling industry and policymakers to make more informed investment and policy decisions to increase the supply and recycling of secondary raw materials.”

The ProSUM report notes that a smartphone contains around 40 different critical raw materials, with a concentration of gold 25 to 30 times that of the richest primary gold ores.

The consortium explains that mining discarded high tech products produces 80 percent less carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gold than primary mining operations do.

ProSUM has shown that an increasing number of products contain precious resources such as neodymium, vital for making permanent magnets in motors; indium, used in flat panel displays; and cobalt, used in rechargeable batteries.

The Urban Mine Platform makes it possible to see the stocks and flows of these products.

Jaco Huisman of the United Nations University, and ProSUM Scientific Coordinator, says, “Until now, data on such critical raw materials have been produced by a variety of institutions, including government agencies, universities, NGOs, and industry, with the information scattered across various databases in different formats and difficult to compare or aggregate and often representing an outdated snapshot for a certain year only.”

“The ProSUM effort helps remedy that problem, and enables the identification of so-called hotspots – the largest stocks of specific materials,” said Huisman.

Europe can potentially mine two million tonnes of batteries a year.

The ProSUM report points to a sharp jump in battery waste the European Union, Switzerland, Norway since year 2000, with 2.7 million tonnes expected to be put on the market in 2020, up from roughly 1.7 million tonnes in 2000.

European authorities know the fate of only half of the estimated two million tonnes of batteries discarded in 2015, about 90 percent of them lead-based.

Other types of batteries available for urban mining – nickel-metal hydride, zinc-based and lithium-based – are a significant source of lithium (7,800 tonnes), cobalt (21,000 tonnes) and manganese (114,000 tonnes).

Vehicles are an increasingly rich source of critical raw materials.

Europe’s end of life vehicles represent a large source of secondary base metals like steel (213 million tonnes), aluminium (24 million tonnes) and copper (7.3 million tonnes), as well as platinum and palladium used in car catalysts.

Vehicles also contain large amounts of critical raw materials due to electronics, as well as alloying elements used in steel, aluminum and magnesium.

Few electric vehicles have yet reached end of life. Still, with sales rising, these will be a source of growing importance for secondary raw materials like neodymium, lithium and cobalt.

The report notes that more than 40 percent of registered vehicles are “of unknown whereabouts” – a gap attributable in part to unreliable data on used vehicles traded within the EU, unreported recycling, and exports beyond Europe.

Mining waste is rich in low grade metals.

The project is also amassing information about resources available in mining waste, which deposits are commonly very large but of low metal grade. New data, such as location, type of waste and origin available in a special extension of the database at Minerals4EU .

Mining waste differs in many respects from the other product groups in ProSUM in that there is no EU legislation that requires recycling, there is no major recycling industry, and Eurostat statistics on mining waste are sparse and only at country level.

The project outcomes are embedded in the European Commission’s (EC) Raw Materials Information System to create a more comprehensive and structured repository of knowledge related to primary and secondary sources consumed in the EU.

With this information, manufacturers can gain confidence about future recycled raw material supplies. Recyclers will have better intelligence about the changes in product types and material content which impact on their business and provide future recovery potential.

The mining industry can use this information for greater certainty about the quantities and types of materials needed in the marketplace, mitigating risk and improving profitability.

Policymakers will be better informed on raw material supplies, which affect jobs and financial institutions, and how materials are linked to energy consumption.

Researchers will have better data quantity, quality, completeness and reliability.

Katerina Adam, associate professor, School of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, National Technical University of Athens said, “The ProSUM project has advanced the knowledge base for extractive wastes by assessing the availability of data on CRMs in mining waste deposits and expanding the scope of the Minerals Knowledge Data Platform to include more mining, processing, and waste reprocessing activities in future.”


Featured: Wrecked cars in a scrapyard near Wokingham, England, UK contain valuable raw materials. (Photo by sleepymyf) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Grant_Writing

E-waste Proliferates as Incomes Rise, Prices Fall

The Rwanda E-Waste Recycling Facility in Rwanda's Bugesera District, the second largest such facility in Africa. This is a Rwanda Green Fund investment. September 2017 (Photo by Rwanda Green Fund) Creative Commons license via Flickr

The Rwanda E-Waste Recycling Facility in Rwanda’s Bugesera District, the second largest such facility in Africa. This is a Rwanda Green Fund investment. September 2017 (Photo by Rwanda Green Fund) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

BONN, Germany, December 14, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – Last year, the world generated e-waste – everything from end-of-life refrigerators and TV sets to solar panels, mobile phones and computers – equal in weight to 1.23 million fully loaded 18-wheeler heavy-duty freight trucks, enough to form a line from New York to Bangkok and back.

A new report on global e-waste shows a staggering 44.7 million metric tonnes (Mt) generated in 2016, up 3.3 Mt or eight percent from 2014.

Experts foresee a further 17 percent increase, to 52.2 million metric tonnes of e-waste by 2021, in this, the fastest growing part of the world’s domestic waste stream.

Only 20 percent of 2016’s e-waste – discarded products with a battery or plug – is documented to have been collected and recycled, despite rich deposits of gold, silver, copper, platinum, palladium and other high value recoverable materials.

The conservatively estimated value of recoverable materials in last year’s e-waste was US$55 billion, more than the 2016 Gross Domestic Product of most countries.

These numbers come from the new report, “Global E-waste Monitor 2017,”  issued this week.

The report is a collaborative effort of the United Nations University (UNU), represented through its Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) Programme hosted by UNU’s Bonn-based Vice-Rectorate in Europe, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).

Jakob Rhyner, vice-rector, United Nations University, said, “The world’s e-waste problem continues to grow. Improved measurement of e-waste is essential to set and monitor targets, and identify policies. National data should be internationally comparable, frequently updated, published, and interpreted.”

“Existing global and regional estimates based on production and trade statistics do not adequately cover the the health and environmental risks of unsafe treatment and disposal through incineration or landfilling,” said Rhyner.

About four percent of 2016’s e-waste is known to have gone into landfills. Experts estimate that about 76 percent, or 34.1 Mt, is likely to have ended up incinerated, in landfills, recycled in informal backyard operations or remains stored in homes.

On a per capita basis, the report shows a rising trend in the amount of e-waste generative.

Falling prices now make electronic and electrical devices affordable for most people worldwide while encouraging early equipment replacement and new acquisitions in wealthier countries.

As a result, the average worldwide per capita e-waste generated was 6.1 kilograms (13.4 pounds) in 2016, up five percent from 5.8 kg (12.7 pounds) in 2014.

The highest per capita e-waste generators – at 17.3 kilograms (38.1 pounds) per inhabitant – were Australia, New Zealand and the other the nations of Oceania, with only six percent of their e-waste formally collected and recycled.

Europe, including Russia, is the second largest generator of e-waste per inhabitant with an average of 16.6 kg (36.5 pounds) per person.

However, Europe has the highest collection rate, 35 percent.

The Americas generate 11.6 kg (25.5 pounds) per inhabitant and collect only 17 percent, comparable to the collection rate in Asia, which is 15 percent.

However, at 4.2 kg (9.2 pounds) per inhabitant, Asia generates only about one third of America’s e-waste per capita.

Africa, meanwhile, generates 1.9 kg (4.1 pounds) per inhabitant, with little information available on its collection rate.

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said, “Environmental protection is one of the three pillars of sustainable development and ITU is at the forefront of advocating for the safe disposal of waste generated by information and communication technologies. To this end ITU has produced several recommendations that help deal with e-waste and the Global E-waste Monitor will be an added resource to assist governments develop better management strategies, standards and policies to reduce the adverse health and environmental effects of e-waste.”

The three Electrical and Electronical Equipment (EEE) categories that contribute the most to e-waste are also growing the fastest.

These three EEE categories, which already constitute 75 percent of global e-waste by weight – 33.6 of the total 44.7 million metric tonnes – will also see the fastest growth.

Top of the list is small equipment, such as vacuum cleaners, microwaves, ventilation equipment, toasters, electric kettles, electric shavers, scales, calculators, radio sets, video cameras, electrical and electronic toys, small electrical and electronic tools, small medical devices, small monitoring and control instruments. In 2016: 16.8 million metric tonnes was generated in this category, with an annual growth rate of four percent a year to 2020.

Next comes large equipment, such as washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers, electric stoves, large printing machines, copying equipment and solar photovoltaic panels. In 2016, 9.2 million metric tonnes was generated in this category, with an annual growth of four percent a year to 2020.

Third is temperature exchange equipment, like refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners and heat pumps. In 2016: 7.6 million metric tonnes was generated in this category, with an annual growth of six percent per year to 2020.

Expected to grow less quickly by weight due to miniaturization is small IT and telecommunication equipment, such as mobile phones, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), pocket calculators, routers, personal computers, printers and telephones. In 2016: 3.9 Mt generated, with an annual growth of two percent a year to 2020.

Little growth is expected in the category of lamps, such as fluorescent lamps, high intensity discharge lamps and LED lamps.

In 2016: 0.7 million metric tonnes of waste was generated in this category, with an annual growth rate of one percent per year to 2020.

Expected to decline by weight in years to come are:

Screens, such as televisions, monitors, laptops, notebooks, tablets, as heavy CRT screens are replaced with flat panel displays. In 2016: 6.6 million metric tonnes of waste was generated in this category, with an annual decline of three percent per year to 2020.

Each product within the six e-waste categories has a different lifetime profile, which means that each category has different waste quantities, economic values, and potential environmental and health impacts if recycled inappropriately.

Antonis Mavropoulos, president, International Solid Waste Association, said, “We live in a time of transition to a more digital world, where automation, sensors and artificial intelligence are transforming all the industries, our daily lives and our societies. E-waste is the most emblematic by-product of this transition and everything shows that it will continue to grow at unprecedented rates.”

The fastest growth of EEE sales is in developing countries.

There is an increasing number of applications and services in such areas as health, education, government, entertainment, and commerce, delivered at increasingly high speeds attracting more users to a growing number of networks.

The report notes that with a population of 7.4 billion, the world now has 7.7 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions. More than eight in 10 people on Earth are covered by a mobile broadband signal.

Some 3.6 billion people – close to half the world’s population, now use the Internet, up from 20.5 percent in 2007. Roughly half of humanity has a computer and Internet access at home. Some 48 percent of households have a computer, up from 30.2 percent in 2007, and 54 percent have Internet access, up from 23 percent in 2007.

In addition to basic prepaid mobile cellular services and handsets becoming more affordable worldwide, prices are falling for many other types of equipment such as computers, peripheral equipment, TVs, laptops and printers

The report calls for stepped up global efforts to better design components in electrical and electronic equipment to facilitate reuse and recycling of electronics, greater capture and recycling of old electronics, and better tracking of e-waste and the resource recovery process.

Encouragingly, more countries are adopting e-waste legislation, the report says. Today 66 percent of the world’s people, living in 67 countries, are covered by national e-waste management laws, up from 44 percent in 61 countries in 2014, an increase caused mainly by India’s adoption of legislation last year.

Still, the report states, only 41 countries quantify their e-waste generation and recycling streams officially and “the fate of a large majority of e-waste (34.1 of 44.7 Mt) is simply unknown.”


Featured Image: One of many dismantlers of electronic waste, location unknown. December 2017 (Photo by ITU) Posted for media use.

Climate-Neutral COP23 Aims for Sustainability

ElectricBusBonn

Bonn’s electric buses will transport conference attendees around the city free of greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo courtesy UNFCCC) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

BONN, Germany, November 7, 2017 (Maximpact.com  News) – This year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, which opened Monday and continues through November 17 under the presidency of Fiji, gives nations an opportunity to showcase their own climate actions at this “climate-neutral” event.

Up to 25,000 people are expected to participate in the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, known as COP23, including government delegates, representatives of observer organizations, businesses and journalists.

One year has passed since the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change, adopted by the 196 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2015. The agreement allows countries to make individual pledges of action to reverse climate change, called Nationally Determined Contributions.

The Paris Agreement aims to limit the rise of the global temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius and, if possible, below 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.

These goals appear increasingly difficult to achieve. Last week, the World Meteorological Organization announced that atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, CO2, had surged at “record-breaking speed” to new highs in 2016.

A new report from the UN Environment agency finds that even full implementation of current unconditional and conditional Nationally Determined Contributions makes a temperature increase of at least 3 degrees C by 2100 very likely.

The 8th edition of UN Environment’s Emissions Gap report, released ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, finds that national pledges only bring a third of the reduction in emissions required by 2030 to meet climate targets, with private sector and sub-national action not increasing at a rate that would help close this worrying gap.

This means that governments must deliver much stronger pledges when they are revised in 2020.

The organizers of COP23 have made sustainability the watchword of this year’s annual conference. In this context, unless stated differently, organizers say, the term sustainability refers to the environmental dimension of sustainable development as defined in 1987 by “Our Common Future,” the Brundtland Report, from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development.

The Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as “development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

To that end, COP23 organizers are managing transport, waste management, catering, energy and offsetting, providing clean transportation and clean electricity to the greatest extent possible.

The COP23 Sustainability Taskforce estimates that most emissions caused by COP 23 are the result of transport, with delegates’ international travel responsible for the largest share.

Emissions from local travel will be reduced by renewable energy-powered electric vehicle shuttles that will transfer delegates between the two conference zones, Bula and Bonn.

The conference venue itself will be managed sustainably, including its use of resources such as energy, waste and water.

“The most important aspect is that local public transportation is free of charge for all registered participants from Parties, observer organizations and media,” says Dennis Winkler, who heads the COP 23 Sustainability Taskforce and is responsible for the sustainability of UN climate change conferences.

“Also, 600 bikes will be provided free of charge for participants to get from one conference zone to another, or even to the city,” Winkler said.

The city of Bonn has several electric and hybrid buses in service and special electric COP 23 shuttles, running on 100 percent renewable energy, will connect a brand-new UN Campus train stop with the nearby metro stop and the two conference zones.

“We think it is important for there to be electric transport at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, as it absolutely meets the key goals of COP23,” says Anja Wenmakers of Bonn’s public transport provider, Stadtwerke-Bonn. “We are committed to supporting climate action goals and believe that public transport in general can make an important contribution to quickly achieving these goals.”

In addition, a shuttle service with smaller electric vehicles through the Rheinaue Park will be organized by the German Environment Ministry. Electric buses will be clearly identified with a special label.

In an effort to use energy efficiently, COP23 organizers are seeking to keep all indoor areas at an average temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, and not warmer. Participants are requested to turn off room lights and ventilation as well as ICT equipment when not in use.

In addition to maximizing energy efficiency, the organizers are making sure that the energy that is used in buildings is from renewable sources when possible.

“We have a target of 80 percent renewable energy all over the conference,” said Winkler. He and his team will have to make an assessment of whether this target has been reached at the end of the conference.

The UNFCCC Secretariat runs on 100 percent renewable energy, some of it sourced from solar panels on the roof of its headquarters building.

In a another effort to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport, the UNFCCC has announced a partnership with Ethanol Europe Renewables Ltd, which aims to promote the use of biofuels as lower-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels.

When COP23 is over on November 17, the UNFCCC Sustainability Taskforce will calculate the overall greenhouse gas footprint of all aspects of the conference, including travel, food, local transport and accommodation.

Their calculations will be verified under the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. All unavoidable emissions resulting from COP23 will be offset.

The Government of Germany has committed to the purchase of certified emission credits, preferably from Clean Development Mechanism projects registered in small island developing States, in recognition of the Fijian Presidency of COP 23.

“The human suffering caused by intensifying hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, floods and threats to food security caused by climate change means there is no time to waste,” said Frank Bainimarama, the Prime Minister of Fiji, who took over as president of the COP23 conference from Morocco during the opening.

“We must preserve the global consensus for decisive action enshrined in the Paris Agreement and aim for the most ambitious part of that target – to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above that of the pre-industrial age,” he said. “Wherever we live, we are all vulnerable and need to act.”

COP23 is structured according to the principle of one conference, two zones. The UN intergovernmental negotiations take place in Zone Bula, a Fijian word expressing warm welcome.

Negotiating countries plan to design and launch the Talanoa dialogue, named after the spirit of open exchange and constructive debate of Pacific island nations, to run during 2018.

The dialogue will conclude at COP24 in Poland next year with the aim of setting the stage for a more ambitious response that better reflects the scientific state of climate change during 2019-2020.

Governments will work on the Paris Agreement’s operating system – the detailed ways and means to assist all governments to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement now and in the future.

“Fiji is helping build a Grand Coalition for decisive, coordinated action by governments at every level, by civil society, the private sector and all citizens on Earth,” said Bainimarama. “That’s why we installed an ocean-going Fijian ‘drua’ canoe in the entrance here to remind everyone of the need to fill its sail with collective determination to make COP23 a success and confront the biggest challenge humanity has faced.”

Featured Image: COP23 dignitaries ride bicycles through the streets of Bonn, Germany ahead of the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). From right: Frank Bainimarama, the Prime Minister of Fiji and COP23 president; Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UNFCCC. Nov. 5, 2017 (Photo courtesy UNFCCC) Creative Commons license via Flickr


Public-Private Solutions for Asia’s Waste Crisis

A girl searches for recyclable materials in a garbage dump with smelly gases rising around her. Mandalay City, Myanmar, February 2009 (Photo by Nyaung U courtesy UN Development Programme Global Photo Contest in China) Creative Commons license via Flickr

A girl searches for recyclable materials in a garbage dump with smelly gases rising around her. Mandalay City, Myanmar, February 2009 (Photo by Nyaung U courtesy UN Development Programme Global Photo Contest in China) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

MANILA, Philippines, August 24, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – Public-private partnerships have an important role to play in improving solid waste management in Asia, according to lessons learned from a five-city project undertaken by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) over the past three years.

Bringing expertise from both private and public sectors to bear on a routinely neglected area of municipal service in Asia would be the most effective way of upgrading landfill design, remediation, construction, and operation, project leaders found.

The senior project leader, Andrew McIntyre, is an urban development specialist with 32 years of experience who leads ADB’s Future Cities Program. He works with Asian cities over the long term, by facilitating cross-sectoral knowledge and financing partners, broadening project pipelines and ensuring integrated results.

“Asia’s cities are the engines of incredible economic growth. For many countries, they generate over 80 percent of GDP and improve the lives of millions of people. But this prosperity comes with a price. Take for example the more than one million tons of solid waste that cities generate every day as they grow,” says McIntyre in a report ‘Improving Waste Management: Solutions from Five Asian Cities’ on the project written for the bank.

“Without proper management, the deluge of solid waste causes severe pollution, helps diseases spread, and generates greenhouse gas emissions. It can also exacerbate urban flooding, which can endanger lives and compromise livelihoods particularly for the poor and marginalized,” he says.

Yet in spite of these risks, waste management has been a low priority for most Asian cities, while more attention is given to transport, water, and health services.

McIntyre says that “urban solid waste management interventions can no longer be piecemeal or underfunded” if the world is to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12, one target of which is to reduce waste generation by 2030, and ensure sustainable patterns of consumption and production.

During the three-year project five cities in Asia received technical assistance from the bank’s project team on mainstreaming solid waste management.

The $1.4 million project worked with local authorities in Mandalay in Myanmar, Quezon City and Sorsogon in the Philippines, and Buriram and Mahasarakham in Thailand.

Key assistance was a review and upgrade of municipal 10-year plans for solid waste management plus one tailored project per city.

Issues covered were waste avoidance, minimization, and recycling; waste haulage and disposal; and information, education, and communication campaigns to help avoid and minimize waste and encourage reuse and recycling.

Lack of funds and technical skills to develop and implement environmentally sound methods of waste management is the main constraint in municipal solid waste management, McIntyre concludes. He says private sector participation that can infuse funds, technical skills and operational efficiencies is a key prerequisite for addressing the problem.

In country presentations and workshops were held in each city to develop and confirm action plans and address policy reform issues. A final workshop was held in January 2017 in Bangkok.

Each of the five project cities has completely different issues that need unique solutions, but all involve both the public and the private sectors. Here, we focus on three of the project cities – two large and one small.

In Myanmar, once called Burma, the project team addressed waste generated by the six townships in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city with a population of over 1.7 million. ‘Mandalay City: Outsourcing Waste Collection Services‘.

Mandalay’s waste collection is supposed to be door-to-door, but large areas have only community bins and informal dumping areas.

The waste collection fleet is composed of compactor vehicles, tipping vehicles, hook lift bins with both covered and uncovered containers, small tricycle collection vehicles, and push carts.

The city’s two landfill sites are operated as uncontrolled dumps and are in urgent need of changes to avoid generating landfill leachate, the bank project team found.

“Staff appear to lack skills required for improving the operation. For example, both sites have extensive areas of uncovered waste placed at very flat slopes, thereby maximizing leachate generation and associated hazards. Leachate was observed flowing off the southern dumpsite onto neighboring properties in dry weather,” the project team reports.

“Overall, the sites are poorly run, and fundamental operational and design errors are compounded by budget limitations, which impacts on availability of suitable equipment and material. Examples include an adequate supply of soil cover for daily, intermediate, and final cover application,” writes the team.

After consulting stakeholders, the project team and the Mandalay city government developed and agreed on an enhanced 10-year integrated solid waste management plan.

Due to strong interest from city, the project team conducted a pre-feasibility study on privatizing waste collection in Chan Aye Thar Zan, the main business district of downtown Mandalay. It is home to the city’s biggest shopping center, the Zegyo Market, and most international standard hotels

The study looked at a privatized fleet of compactors that collect waste door-to-door or from bins. It would be fully mechanized and efficient. The private operator could be contracted to provide the staff and technology, but could also be contracted to supply the collection equipment if a longer contract term was awarded.

Quezon City, with three million people, is the largest city in Metro Manila, the National Capital Region of the Philippines. It is the site of many government offices, including the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Philippine Congress, yet the municipality does not have a financially sustainable waste collection system.

Reasons for this state of affairs relate to fees for waste management and the length of time private waste collection companies can be contracted to operate the service.

Contracts are limited to one year due to restrictions in the national procurement law. So, private operators are not guaranteed a payback period for modernizing equipment, and there is limited incentive for investing in specialist compactor vehicles and a modern processing plant.

Quezon City is not collecting garbage management fees due to a legal issue on how waste management fees are calculated. Even though local government units in the Philippines have budget allocations for solid waste management, the cost of collection is often higher.

One solution is to provide more incentives to private companies to invest in solid waste management by extending contracts to a term of seven to 10 years or longer. Then private companies could schedule repayment of purchase costs for specialized equipment, but this would require changes to the country’s procurement laws.

As it is, residual waste is hauled to the Payatas dumpsite, which was converted into a controlled landfill 15 years ago. About five years ago, a lined landfill was established on the site. The site is operated and maintained by a private contractor and has more than five years of life remaining with just the current landholdings. But time and landfill space are running out.

The Payatas landfill development in Quezon City, Philippines, (Photo by Lyndsay Chapple courtesy Asian Development Bank) Posted for media use.

The Payatas landfill development in Quezon City, Philippines, (Photo by Lyndsay Chapple courtesy Asian Development Bank) Posted for media use.

The project team and the Quezon City government designed and agreed on an enhanced 10-year integrated solid waste management plan and a pre-feasibility study was conducted on setting up a waste-to-energy facility with a modular waste capacity of 1,000 tons a day using a stoker-type incinerator.

In Thailand, the project team worked with municipal officials in a small city of 28,000 people in the northeastern part of the country called Buriram, which literally means city of happiness.

They conducted a pre-feasibility study on whether refuse derived fuels could provide a possible method for diverting waste from the landfill. The waste would be separated and prepared to quality specifications, then transported and sold to cement kiln owners who might buy it as a coal substitute for the heating process.

Many small to medium domestic companies had already approached Buriram municipal officers promoting waste-to-energy plants, and in particular, refuse derived fuels. Municipal officers expressed high optimism for refuse derived fuels as a solution to the issue of ever-increasing quantities of solid waste going to landfill.

But the base case model showed a significant negative return on investment.

The bank project team concluded that such projects may not be viable in small cities in northeast Thailand due to small waste quantities and high transport costs.

A suggested solution is a public-private partnership that would take in funds from a subsidy to the refuse derived fuels developer through direct Buriram municipality tipping fees and/or central government capital subsidies.

Using lessons learned from the five-city project, the ADB is moving to help other Asian cities deal with their overflowing landfills in a clean, modern way.

In Vietnam in July, the bank and the Da Nang City People’s Committee signed a transaction advisory services agreement to develop a new landfill and waste treatment facility.

Da Nang, a rapidly growing industrial and tourism hub in central Vietnam with a population of over a million, collects about 700-750 tons of solid waste a day. Waste is disposed of in the city’s existing landfill, but the remaining capacity will be fully utilized by 2020.

The project will use a public-private partnership plan. The private sector will design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the waste disposal and treatment facilities that meet the city’s requirements beyond 2020 by applying modern technologies for treating waste.

The concession period and the technologies to be used will be determined based on a feasibility study.

“ADB has been a key development partner to Da Nang City,” said Norio Saito, ADB deputy country director in Vietnam. “This transaction advisory support to Da Nang for the solid waste treatment facility will complement the work we are doing in the urban sector in Vietnam, and create a template for delivering waste treatment solutions via public-private partnerships for other cities across the country.”

In the last analysis, whatever the circumstances, better solid waste management means investing more funds and increasing cooperation between the public and private sectors.

“Over the next decade, along with energy and transport infrastructure, we need to invest more in integrated solid waste management processes and facilities,” says McIntyre. “If we don’t, making developing Asia’s cities livable in the future will be nothing more than a pipe dream.”


Maximpact+WASTE

Sacred Sites Strategize for Impact Investments

 Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, India. December 1999 (Photo by Ryan) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, India. December 1999 (Photo by Ryan) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

By Sunny Lewis

LONDON, UK, August 1, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – Representatives of sacred places and cities that attract spiritual pilgrims are working with highly placed conservationists to create a dedicated fund for their environmental protection by relying on the investment community’s growing commitment to ethical or impact investment.

The altar at the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, September 2009. (Photo by Jay-Ar Cruz) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

The altar at the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, September 2009. (Photo by Jay-Ar Cruz) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

In London last week, proposals totaling nearly a billion dollars were discussed in a meeting organized by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), which was founded in 1995 by HRH Prince Philip.

ARC is a secular body that helps the major religions of the world to develop their own environmental programs, based on their own core teachings, beliefs and practices.

ARC now works with 11 major faiths, helping the religions link with key environmental organizations, creating powerful alliances between faith communities and conservation groups.

The event at The Wesley, the UK Methodists’ first eco-hotel in London, was co-hosted by R20, a not-for-profit, public-private partnership that envisions mobilizing the regions of the world to be leaders for green growth.

Founded in 2010 by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and other subnational leaders in cooperation with the United Nations, R20’s mission is to support local governments in the creation and successful financing of renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure projects.

The projects chosen are ones that produce measurable environmental, social and economic benefits, as well as attractive financial returns for investors.

According to the R20 Executive Director Christophe Nuttall, “The investment community, which has already made great strides in ethical investment, is starting to realize that religions are producing structured investable projects in this area.”

The aim of the London meeting was to set up a structure for faiths to access impact investments.

Pioneering impact investor BlueOrchard, and R20, together with ARC, are proposing to build just such a dedicated fund for sacred places and pilgrim cities.

Based in Switzerland, BlueOrchard was founded in 2001 by the United Nations as the world’s first commercial manager of microfinance debt investments worldwide. BlueOrchard now has a total of seven offices on four continents.

To date, BlueOrchard has invested US$4 billion in 350 institutions across 70 countries, providing access to financial and related services to over 30 million low-income individuals.

On July 25, the BlueOrchard Microfinance Fund exceeded the US$1 billion investment mark for the first time since its inception in 1998.

“Having proven for almost two decades how social impact, outstanding financial returns and environmental developments go hand in hand, BlueOrchard has become the industry’s thought and innovation leader,” says Peter  Fanconi, who chairs BlueOrchard’s Board of Directors.

Inside a mosque in Fez, Morocco, January 2011. (Photo by Anna & Michal) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

Inside a mosque in Fez, Morocco, January 2011. (Photo by Anna & Michal) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

Ten pilgrim cities and sacred places were represented at the London meeting:

Naga, Cebu, Philippines: Catholic. The province of Cebu and Naga City are proposing to replace thousands of polluting tricycle vehicles with electric vehicles as the major form of transport to key pilgrimage sites such as the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral.

Djerba Island, Tunisia: Muslim and Jewish business owners plan on developing infrastructure to accomodate pilgrim and tourist visits to sites such as the Ghriba Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Africa.

Etchmiadzin, Armenia: Orthodox Christian. Planning is underway for a model green pilgrimage city focusing on education, water and energy. Pilgrims come to see the oldest cathedral in the world, Etchmiadzin Cathedral, built in the early fourth century.

Fez, Morocco: Muslim. At more than 1,000 years old, Fez is considered the spiritual heartland of Morocco. The city is planning biogas collection for public lighting.

Fujaira, United Arab Emirates: Muslim. planning new pilgrimage and tourist facilities based on traditional Islamic architecture. Among other sacred sites, pilgrims come to visit the 500 year old Al Bidya Mosque, called the oldest, smallest and most beautiful mosque in UAE.

Jiangsu Province, China: Taoist. Chinese authorities want to replace old energy systems in 200 temples with high tech sustainable technologies that will be a model for other, secular development in China.

Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, India: Hindu. Two state governments are proposing sustainable financially viable ways to cope with the millions of pilgrims passing through to visit the tiger reserve, which forms the catchment area for 14 rivers and streams, including the Ganges. A core area of this reserve has been proposed as a national park.

Kano, Nigeria: Muslim. The largest Sufi pilgrimage site in Northern Africa, Kano hosts up to three million people at key times. The government is planning infrastructure and drinking water distribution programs.

Rameshwaram, India: Hindu. Separated from mainland India by the Pamban Channel, this town is the center of attraction for Hindu devotees across the world. Two of main attractions are the great Ramanathaswamy Temple, built in the 17th century, and the nearby Five Faced Hanuman temple. Businesses plan to overhaul transport, water and waste facilities for pilgrim visits to the island’s temples.

Zanzibar City, Tanzania: Muslim and Christian. The city is planning an eco-hotel and environmental education centre on abandoned land beside the UNESCO Heritage Site of Stone Town. Pilgrims come to visit the 500 year old Malindi Mosque, Zanzibar’s oldest, dated to the 15th century.

There were also three complementary business initiatives represented at the London meeting:

Amaravati Buddhist Centre, London, UK: Buddhist. This center is planning an eco-village for the 21st century on its wooded site in London.

Wesley Methodist Hotel Group, London, UK: Methodist Christian. This company is expanding its chain of award-winning eco-hotels to include the first-ever Methodist National Park, in Kenya.

Dartington, UK: Multi-faith. A 14th century historic house and substantial grounds and property are the central point for 40 organisations, including businesses, working on technological solutions to energy needs, agriculture, waste and water.

All 13 groups have produced business plans to attract investment for sustainable infrastructure enterprises.

A dedicated fund is needed, meeting participants agreed. In the short term this could help finance some or all of the attending projects. In the medium term this could finance up to 200 sustainable projects in different cities and places.

By 2030 this could grow to include 7,000 cities, some of which will be considered sacred, but others which will benefit from having local faith groups consult in investment plans, meeting organizers said.

While there is an increased interest in ethical, or impact investment from investors, meeting participants recognized that there is a real shortage of sustainable projects for sustainable funds to invest in around the world.

R20 and BlueOrchard have developed a unique value chain which, on the one hand, identifies and structures a portfolio of low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure projects up to bankability, and on the other hand, helps invest in these projects due to a de-risking blended finance mechanism with philanthropic, subsidies, equity and loans from both public and private banks.

R20, BlueOrchard, ARC and representatives of many of these projects will be taking part in the Faith in Finance meeting on October 29 in Zug, Switzerland. Find out more at: ArcWorld Projects


MAXIMPACT_

Featured Image: The Laozi-Jinshan Temple, with a gigantic statue of Laozi the legendary founder of Taoism (Photo courtesy Mao-shen, Sacred Taoist Mountain of Eastern China) Posted for media use

Cleaning Up Space Waste, Gecko Style

By Sunny Lewis

STANFORD, California, June 29, 2017 (Maxipact.com News) – At this moment, there are more than 20,000 pieces of debris larger than a softball orbiting the Earth, traveling at speeds of 17,500 mph, fast enough to damage a spacecraft. Scientists have now designed a way to grab them based on the way geckos climb walls.

SpaceDebris

At least 20,000 pieces of space debris larger than a softball are orbiting Planet Earth. (Image courtesy NASA) Public domain.

 Space junk is a real threat to satellites and even the International Space Station. There are 500,000 pieces of debris the size of a marble or larger and many millions of pieces of debris so small they can’t even be tracked.

NASA has a set of long-standing guidelines used to assess the threat of a close approach of orbital debris to a spacecraft. The question they must answer is: does it warrant evasive action or precautions to ensure the safety of the crew? Several evasive actions have been taken over the past 10 years.

It would be best to clean up the debris, but in space this has presented a major challenge. Suction cups don’t work in a vacuum. Traditional sticky substances cannot withstand the extreme temperature swings. Magnets work only on objects that are magnetic. Other proposed solutions could cause forceful interaction with the debris, and that could push the objects in unintended, unpredictable directions.

But now, researchers from Stanford University and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have designed a new kind of robotic gripper to grab and dispose of the debris based on the way small lizards called geckos cling to walls and ceilings.

“What we’ve developed is a gripper that uses gecko-inspired adhesives,” says Mark Cutkosky, professor of mechanical engineering and senior author of the paper published in the June 27 issue of the journal “Science Robotics.”.

“It’s an outgrowth of work we started about 10 years ago on climbing robots that used adhesives inspired by how geckos stick to walls,” he said.

Geckos can climb walls because their feet have microscopic flaps that, when in full contact with a surface, create a Van der Waals force between the feet and the surface.

These are weak intermolecular forces that result from subtle differences in the positions of electrons on the outsides of molecules.

The scientists’ gripper is not as intricate as a gecko’s foot – the flaps of the adhesive are about 40 micrometers across while a gecko’s are much smaller, about 200 nanometers, but the gecko-inspired adhesive works in much the same way as the real gecko functions.

Like a gecko’s foot, the adhesive is only sticky if the flaps are pushed in a specific direction, but making it stick only requires a light push in the right direction.

“If I came in and tried to push a pressure-sensitive adhesive onto a floating object, it would drift away,” said Elliot Hawkes, a visiting assistant professor from the University of California, Santa Barbara and co-author of the paper.

“Instead,” Hawkes said, “I can touch the adhesive pads very gently to a floating object, squeeze the pads toward each other so that they’re locked, and then I’m able to move the object around.”

The pads unlock with the same gentle movement, creating very little force against the object.

The group tested their gripper, in larger and smaller versions, in their lab and in multiple zero gravity experimental spaces, including the International Space Station.

Promising results from those early tests have led the researchers to wonder how their grippers would work outside the station, a likely next step.

The gripper the researchers created has a grid of adhesive squares on the front and arms with thin adhesive strips that can fold out and move toward the middle of the robot from either side, as though it’s offering a hug.

The grid can stick to flat objects, like a solar panel, and the arms can grab curved objects, like a rocket body.

One of the biggest challenges of the work was to make sure the load on the adhesives was evenly distributed, which the researchers achieved by connecting the small squares through a pulley system that also serves to lock and unlock the pads.

Without this system, uneven stress could cause the squares to unstick one by one, until the entire gripper let go.

This load-sharing system also allows the gripper to work on surfaces with defects that prevent some of the squares from sticking.

The group also designed the gripper to switch between a relaxed state and rigid state.

“Imagining that you are trying to grasp a floating object, you want to conform to that object while being as flexible as possible, so that you don’t push that object away,” explained Hao Jiang, a graduate student in the Cutkosky lab and lead author of the paper.

“After grasping, you want your manipulation to be very stiff, very precise, so that you don’t feel delays or slack between your arm and your object,” said Hao.

The group first tested the gripper in the Cutkosky lab. They closely measured how much load the gripper could handle, what happened when different forces and torques were applied and how many times it could be stuck and unstuck.

Through their partnership with JPL, the researchers also tested the gripper in zero gravity environments.

In JPL’s Robodome, they attached small rectangular arms to a large robot with the adhesive, then placed that modified robot on a frictionless floor to simulate maneuvers in a 2D zero gravity environment.

“We had one robot chase the other, catch it and then pull it back toward where we wanted it to go,” said Hawkes. “I think that was definitely an eye-opener, to see how a relatively small patch of our adhesive could pull around a 300 kilogram robot.”

Next, two of the scientists went on a parabolic airplane flight to test the gripper in zero gravity. Over two days, they flew a series of 80 ascents and dives, which created an alternating experience of about 20 seconds of 2G and 20 seconds of zero-G conditions in the cabin.

The gripper successfully grasped and let go of a cube and a large beach ball with a gentle enough touch that the objects barely moved when released.

Then, Parness’s lab developed a small gripper that went up in the International Space Station, where the astronauts tested how well the gripper worked inside the station.

Next steps for the gripper involve getting it ready for testing outside the space station, including creating a version made of longer lasting materials able to hold up to thte high levels of radiation and extreme temperatures of space.

The current prototype is made of laser-cut plywood and includes rubber bands, which would become brittle in space. The researchers will have to make something sturdier for testing outside the Space Station, likely designed to attach to the end of a robot arm.

“There are many missions that would benefit from this, like rendezvous and docking and orbital debris mitigation,” said Aaron Parness, group leader of the Extreme Environment Robotics Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“We could also eventually develop a climbing robot assistant that could crawl around on the spacecraft, doing repairs, filming and checking for defects,” said Parness.

The adhesives developed by the Cutkosky lab have already been used in climbing robots and in a system that has enabled humans to climb up walls.

Cutkosky hopes his group can manufacture larger quantities of the adhesive at a lower cost. He imagines that someday gecko-inspired adhesive could be as common as Velcro.


Featured Image: The bottom of a gecko’s foot was the inspiration for a new gripper that could clear space of floating debris. (Photo by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen) Creative Commons license via Flickr 

Maximpact+WASTE

Woman Honored as Pesticide Workers’ Champion

WomanSpraysPesticides

A woman sprays pesticides over a field. (Photo by International Food Policy Research Institute) Creative commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 4, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – “The millions of rural women on the ground that are in the frontlines of the struggle against highly hazardous pesticides in their daily lives as farmers, workers, and consumers,” are the inspiration that drives Sarojeni Rengam‘s advocacy for the environment, agroecology, the elimination of pesticides, food sovereignty and social justice for women, she told a distinguished audience in Geneva on Wednesday.

Sarojeni Rengam

Sarojeni Rengam, representing Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific, speaks at the 2017 Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, April 27, 2017 Geneva, Switzerland (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin) With permission for use to Environment News Service under long-standing arrangement.

Rengam was among the 10 women and men named Gender Pioneers for a Future Detoxified by the Triple Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions meeting in Geneva this week.

Over 1,600 representatives from more than 180 countries as well as observers from civil society groups and the chemical and waste industries have been in Geneva since April 24 to negotiate measures for the sound management of chemicals and wastes.

A champion of women’s health and wellbeing in campaigns against toxic pesticides over the past 25 years, Rengam serves as executive director of the Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PANAP) based in Penang, Malaysia.

In her acceptance speech, Rengam expressed how much the women she works with mean in her own life. “They have inspired me with their commitment to protect their children, their families, and their communities from hazardous pesticides and to work for non-chemical alternatives,” she said.

“The reality of pesticide use in the farms and plantations is horrendous and women as sprayers often do not have the information about what they are spraying and what the impacts are. When they are poisoned, there is no medical support. Their health issues, like issues of women in general, are rarely taken seriously,” said Rengam. “This is because as women, they are still in position of subordination in their homes and communities, and at the national level.”

Glorene Amala, executive director of Tenaganita, a Malaysia-based advocacy group working with migrants, refugees and women, described Rengam as an “embodiment of women’s empowerment.”

Rengam’s work has brought about what Amala called “tremendous changes” in the lives of those who have been affected by pesticides and chemicals.

Dr. Burnad Fathima Natesan of the Asian Rural Women’s Coalition said this is a proud moment for many rural women whose rights and interests Rengam has steadfastly supported in PANAP’s campaigns against harmful pesticides and for women’s rights to land and resources.

Rengam has initiated a PANAP program called Women and Agriculture to look into women’s land rights and to expose the role of corporations in promoting highly hazardous pesticides.

“The impact and awareness she has created in helping rural women understand the hazards of pesticide application in their fields and the impacts on one’s health, especially on women’s reproductive health, makes her the right person for this award,” said Natesan. “The rural women from India and from women’s movements in the region rejoice over this special moment.”

Delegates to the two week-long Triple Conferences of the Parties to the treaties known as the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions now underway in Geneva aim to strengthen these agreements on the global management of hazardous chemicals and waste.

Staged under the theme “A future detoxified: sound management of chemicals and waste,” government Parties to the conventions will seek to reach consensus on a wide range of issues.

ConventionsHeads

At the Triple Convention meeting, from left: Sam Adu-Kumi, Stockholm Convention COP 8 President, Franz Perrez, Rotterdam Convention COP 8 President, and Mohammed Khashashneh, Basel Convention COP 13 President, share a moment, May 1, 2017 Geneva, Switzerland (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin) With permission for use to Environment News Service under long-standing arrangement

For the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, this includes eight proposals for adding carbofuran, carbosulfan, trichlorfon, fenthion, paraquat, chlorinated paraffins, chrysotile asbestos and tributyltin to the RC’s “watch list,” also known as Annex III.

Forty-seven chemicals make up the Rotterdam Convention’s current list of substances deemed hazardous to human health and the environment and which are subject to the Prior Informed Consent procedure. Parties also will consider ways to strengthen the effectiveness of the convention and seek to adopt compliance procedures.

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment.

Issues for Stockholm Convention government Parties include proposals for listing decabromodiphenyl ether (commercial mixture, c-decaBDE) and short-chain chlorinated paraffins in Annex A for elimination as well as hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD) in Annex C, which targets the reduction and ultimate elimination of the unintentional releases of the chemical.

Among the other issues that will get priority attention of the Stockholm Convention Parties is the development of compliance procedures and mechanisms, and the first-ever evaluation of the effectiveness of the Convention, which entered into force in May 2004.

For the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, the Parties will consider prevention and minimization of the generation of waste.

This is the subject of new guidance to assist Parties, and a set of practical manuals for the promotion of the environmentally sound management of wastes and revised fact sheets on specific waste streams all of which have been prepared by an expert group on environmentally sound management.

Parties also will consider establishing a new partnership focusing on a major waste stream, household waste.

The conferences will examine progress in the implementation of the Conventions among participating Parties, in particular in developing countries and countries in transition where handling hazardous chemicals throughout their lifecycles presents greater challenges.

Delegates will attempt to make progress on the sharing of information on hazardous chemicals and strive to build further international cooperation and coordination regarding their use.

More than 40 side events are scheduled during the biennial event. Topics being presented include mercury waste management, pesticide risk reduction, hazardous work in agriculture, child labor and methods to safeguard the human rights of those facing exposure.

A technology fair showcases the importance industry and private sector groups play in developing new technologies for the safe management of chemicals and promoting opportunities for developing alternatives.


CapacityBuilding

Become part of Maximpact’s consulting network join consultants from all around the world covering over 20 sectors of focus within sustainability and impact.

E-Waste Piles Proliferate in Asia

E-Waste Piles Proliferate in Asia

Creative reuse of Used PCBs, Agbogbloshie , February 28, 2014 (Photo by Fairphone) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

TOKYO, Japan, January 26, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – The volume of discarded electronics in East Asia and Southeast Asia rose nearly two-thirds between 2010 and 2015, and e-waste generation is growing fast both in total volume and per person measures, new United Nations research shows.

The study shows that rising e-waste quantities are even outpacing population growth.

Driven by rising incomes and high demand for new devices and appliances, the average increase in e-waste across all 12 countries and areas analyzed was 63 percent in the five years ending in 2015.

The e-waste totaled 12.3 million tonnes, a weight 2.4 times that of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

These calculations are drawn from the first-ever Regional E-waste Monitor: East and Southeast Asia compiled by the UN’s think tank, the United Nations University and funded by Japan’s Ministry of Environment.

To conserve resources and avoid serious health and environmental problems, the report urges a crackdown on improper recycling and disposal of electrical and electronic equipment, which includes anything with a battery or a cord.

The countries and other jurisdictions covered by the report are: Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

China alone more than doubled its generation of e-waste between 2010 and 2015 to 6.7 million tonnes, up 107 percent.

For many countries that already lack infrastructure for environmentally sound e-waste management, the increasing volumes are a cause for concern,” says co-author Ruediger Kuehr of UN University.

Increasing the burden on existing waste collection and treatment systems results in flows towards environmentally unsound recycling and disposal,” he warned.

Regionally, the average amount of e-waste generated by each person was about 10 kg in 2015, with the highest generation found in Hong Kong (21.7 kg per person), followed by Singapore (19.95 kg) and Taiwan (19.13 kg).

There were large differences between nations, with Cambodia at 1.10 kg per person, Vietnam, with 1.34 kg, and the Philippines at 1.35 kg per person being the lowest e-waste generators in 2015.

The report cites four main trends responsible for the increasing volumes of electronic waste:

•             More devices: Innovation in technology is driving the introduction of new products, particularly portable electronics, such as tablets, and wearables like smart watches.

•             More consumers: In the East and Southeast Asian region, there are industrializing countries with growing populations, and also rapidly expanding middle classes able to afford more devices.

•             Decreasing usage window: The usage time of devices is getting shorter as rapidly advancing technologies make older products obsolete – for instance flash drives have replaced floppy disks.

Software requirements also play a role in decreased usage time. For instance, there are minimum requirements for computers to run operating software and other applications, and there are “soft factors” such as product fashion, the report states.

As more devices are replaced more rapidly, piles of e-waste grow.

•             Imports: Import of electrical and electronic equipment provides greater availability of products, both new and second-hand, which also increases the e-waste that arises as the devices reach their end of life.

The report warns of improper and illegal e-waste dumping prevalent in most countries in the study, regardless of national e-waste legislation.

Consumers, dismantlers and recyclers are often guilty of illegal dumping, particularly of “open dumping“, where non- functional parts and residues from dismantling and treatment operations are released into the environment, the report points out.

The main reasons for illegal dumping are: lack of awareness, lack of incentives, lack of convenience, the absence of suitable hazardous waste disposal sites, weak governance, and lax enforcement of whatever laws do exist.

The report points to common practices such as open burning, which can cause acute and chronic ill-effects on public health and the environment.

Open burning of e-waste is practiced by informal recyclers when segregating organic and inorganic compounds. For example, they may burn cables to recover the valuable copper.

Though less common, spontaneous combustion can occur at open dumping sites when components such as batteries trigger fires due to short circuits.

Informal recycling, called “backyard recycling,” is a challenge for most developing countries in the region, with a large and growing number of entrepreneurs conducting unlicensed and illegal recycling practices from backyards.

These processes are not only hazardous for the recyclers, their communities and the environment, but they are also inefficient, as they are unable to extract the full value of the processed products, the report points out.

These recyclers recover gold, silver, palladium and copper from printed circuit boards and wires, using solvents such as sulphuric acid for hazardous wet chemical leaching processes, or acid baths, which release toxic fumes.

Open burning and acid bath recycling in the informal sector have serious negative impacts on processers’ occupational health,” co-author Shunichi Honda warns. “In the absence of protective materials such as gloves, glasses, masks, etc., inhalation of and exposure to hazardous chemicals and substances directly affect workers’ health.

Associations have been reported between exposure from improper treatment of e-waste and altered thyroid function, reduced lung function, negative birth outcomes, reduced childhood growth, negative mental health outcomes, impaired cognitive development, cytotoxicity and genotoxicity,” explains Honda.

Indirect exposure to these hazardous substances is also a cause of many health problems, particularly for families of informal recyclers who often live and work in the same location, as well as for communities living in and around the area of informal recycling sites.

The report gives top marks to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. These three jurisdictions have a head-start in the region in establishing e-waste collection and recycling systems. They began to adopt and enforce e-waste specific laws in the late 1990s.

Among the most advanced economies and areas in the region, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are also characterized by high per capita e-waste generation, formal collection and recycling infrastructure and relatively strong enforcement.

Hong Kong and Singapore do not have specific e-waste legislation. Instead, these governments collaborate with producers to manage e-waste through public-private partnerships.

As small jurisdictions with large shipping and trade networks, Hong Kong and Singapore must cope with major transboundary movements of e-waste generated domestically, as well as e-waste in transit from other countries.

China, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam all have recent e-waste legislation. These four countries are in a transitionphase, with a mix of formal and informal elements in an evolving ecosystem in terms of collection and recycling infrastructure.

Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand have yet to establish legal frameworks for e-waste management. There is an active informal sector in these countries with an established network for collection and import of end-of-life products and their recycling, repair, refurbishment and parts harvesting.

Asia, including the 12 nations and jurisdictions in this new study, is the world’s largest consumer of electrical and electronic equipment, buying nearly half of all such equipment on the market, amounting to 20.62 million tonnes in 2005; and 26.69 million tonnes in 2012.

The increase is striking given the drop in sales of electrical and electronic equipment in Europe and the Americas in 2012 following the global financial crisis.

e-wasteHongKong

A tracking device inside an old printer led investigators from the Seattle-based nonprofit Basel Action Network to this e-waste scrapyard in rural Hong Kong, June 22, 2016. (Photo by Katie Campbell, KCTS/EarthFix) Creative Commons license via Flickr


Billboard- 970x250-min-min

 Create e-waste and clean tech projects through Maximpact’s Advisory and discover project services for all types of business and organizations.  Find the right expertise for your e-waste and environmental projects through Maximpact consulting network.  Contact us at info(@)maximpact.com and tell us what you need.

 

First Flight ‘On Wings of Waste’

WingsofWastePlane

Pilot Jeremy Rowsell with the On Wings of Waste aircraft. Rowsell was born in London into a family of military pilots. He first flew solo at age 14, flew during university, then travelled and flew extensively in Africa. Working as a broker at Lloyds of London led to a job in Australia. He currently lives Sydney and works for multinational insurer Jardine Lloyd Thompson, who supported his flight On Wings of Waste. (Photo courtesy On Wings of Waste) Posted for media use.

By Sunny Lewis

LONDON, UK, January 12, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – Pilot Jeremy Rowsell made history this week by flying a light plane across Australia from Sydney to Melbourne, using blended fuel  – 10 percent derived from plastic waste blended with 90 percent conventional fuel.

After years of preparation and many ups and downs we’ve finally shown that the eight million tonnes of plastic dumped into the oceans each year can be put to good use,” said Rowsell as he arrived in Melbourne today.

The flight from Sydney to Melbourne covered 500 miles. The Vans aircraft RV9a traveled at 100 nautical miles an hour over a period of 20 hours.

With the unique ‘On Wings of Waste‘ flight, Rowsell, co-pilot Chris Clark and their team set out to prove that plastic waste can be transformed from a pollutant into an alternative fuel to be blended with Jet A1 fuel.

We blended 10 percent of fuel manufactured by Plastic Energy with conventional fuel and the flight was a dream,” Rowsell enthused upon landing in Melbourne.

The team’s campaign to inspire people to recycle plastic waste has taken four years to lift off. The four-stage proposition is:

re-cycle – public support for a recycling campaign

re-use – plastic waste is transformed into fuel to be blended with Jet A1 fuel

re-fuel – airlines adopt a 10 percent blend of fuel derived from plastic waste

rescue – pollution of the world’s oceans is slowed down and eventually halted

The unique project came about after Rowsell observed from the air the danger posed by ever-increasing amounts of plastic waste found in the ocean.

Marine debris comes in all shapes and sizes, from large trawl nets, discarded or lost at sea, to plastic pieces smaller than a grain of rice that float throughout the water column.

The equivalent of a garbage truck full of waste plastic is dumped into the sea every minute, says Rowsell, the equivalent of eight million tons of plastic that enters the oceans every year.

He was inspired to test out a solution.

For the fuel that made up the 10 percent derived from plastic, Plastic Energy used end-of-life plastic, normally found in garbage patches in the ocean and in landfill sites, where it takes hundreds of years to degrade.

The waste can be turned into recyclable material; 95 percent is usable for diesel fuel and the other five percent, known as Char is a solid that can be used for fuel additives and pigments. 

Plastic Energy uses a process called thermal anaerobic conversion. Plastics are heated in an oxygen-free environment to prevent them from burning, and then broken into their component hydrocarbons to create the equivalent of a petroleum distillate. This can then be separated into different fuels.

As there is no burning of the plastics, but rather a melting process, no toxic emissions are released into the environment.

Carlos Monreal, president and CEO, Plastic Energy, said, “Jeremy’s flight is a tremendous opportunity to showcase how plastic waste can be put to productive use instead of thrown away to pollute the oceans or despoil the land. We are delighted to be supporting this adventure.”

FishingNetSeal

A seal approaches discarded fishing nets that cover a coral reef in Hawaiian waters. (Photo courtesy U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program) Public domain.

Plastic breaks up into small particles, mixing with the plankton at the ocean surface. Plankton is at the heart of the food chain and provides us with more than half the oxygen we breathe – our oceans keep us alive,” explains Jo Ruxton, part of the On Wings of Waste team and one of the producers of “A Plastic Ocean,” a film on plastic pollution to be released January 20. 

We can’t yet safely remove plastic particles from plankton that lives in the ocean, so we must stop dumping plastic waste in the ocean,” Ruxton said.

There are estimated to be 5.25 trillion particles of plastic floating – mainly at the bottom – of the world’s seas,” she says.

Besides using waste plastic that otherwise could be dumped in the ocean, Jeremy’s flight could have a major effect on the aviation industry.

Rowsell points out that 33 percent of airlines’ operating costs are spent on fuel.

A 747 aircraft on a 10,000 mile flight burns 36,000 gallons of fuel. If 10 percent of fuel burned on that flight were sourced from plastic waste, 3,600 (UK) gallons, it would be the equivalent of 18 tonnes of waste plastic, utilized, not dumped.

Calculate in the 1,200 flights a day that are made from Heathrow alone, and it is possible that more than 21,000 tonnes of waste plastic could be transformed from pollutant to fuel – every day.

The On Wings of Waste team is looking for support from the general public and other investors to build a recycling plant in Australia that could lead to a change in culture and attitude about how we dispose of single use plastic.

World renowned naturalist and filmmaker Sir David Attenborough has backed the project saying, “The Wings of Waste flight, I hope, will bring the attention of the world to this great solution that is there waiting to be taken if only we can get the support of people to do so.” 

Rowsell and survival trainer Tony Loughran from Zerorisk International have started to roll out an educational campaign in Australia, building a groundswell of support for On Wings of Waste.


Featured Image: This photo, taken after a marine debris removal effort by NOAA’s Pacific Island Fisheries Service Coral Reef Ecosystem Division, shows 4,781 bottle caps collected from Midway Atoll’s shoreline. Most plastic bottle caps are made from polypropylene, a hard, durable plastic that can be tough to recycle. (Photo courtesy U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program) Public domain.

Billboard- 970x250-min-min

Maximpact’s consultant network has a wide range of marine and environmental experts that can help your organization with ocean economy related projects. Contact us at info(@)maximpact.com and tell us what you need.

 

Hope for the Hungry

Hope_for_the_Hungry

By Sunny Lewis

ROME, Italy, July 26, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – Hundreds of millions of people throughout the world go to bed hungry while at the same time, a third of the world’s food is wasted, say the number-crunchers at the United Nations food agencies.

But there is fresh hope for the hungry. Leaders of two UN agencies fighting hunger worldwide are applauding new legislation in the United States that aims to strengthen global food assistance programs in the years ahead.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) praised U.S. President Barack Obama for his July 20th signing of the Global Food Security Act (GFSA). The United States is the largest donor to both UN agencies.

The measure was passed by the U.S. Congress on July 6 by members of both the Democratic and Republican parties, during a time of otherwise great division in the U.S. Congress and politics.

The United States is helping to put and even stronger emphasis on how food security and economic development are intertwined, while stressing the central role of small-scale family farmers in the fight against hunger and poverty,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

This law will have a dramatic impact on the lives of people throughout world, showing once again why the United States is a leader in promoting food security and helping those who struggle to feed their families so they can start to build their own future,” says WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.

The new law supports initiatives to develop agriculture, assist small-scale food producers and improve nutrition, especially for women and children worldwide. It seeks improve the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene to poor communities and build their resilience to withstand shocks, such as conflict, droughts and floods.

President Obama signed into law the Feed the Future program, the U.S. government’s global hunger initiative, ensuring it will continue helping countries provide their people with enough food – even after the Obama presidency ends in January.

The new law authorizes for the first time USAID‘s International Disaster Assistance and Emergency Food Security Program. This means future White House administrations and future Congresses could more easily make cash assistance available to people experiencing hunger unexpectedly, due to natural disasters or war.

And it has never been more needed. One-third of all the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted as it moves from farm, ranch or orchard to table, at a global cost as high as US$940 billion a year, calculates the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

At the same time, more than 800 million people around the world are undernourished, the FAO reminded everyone in June.

Food loss and food waste generates about eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the UN agency says, adding that if it were a country, food loss and waste would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter – behind China and the United States.

In an attempt to lose less food and feed more people, a partnership of international organizations has launched a new global framework to giv businesses, governments, and other organizations ways to measure, report on and manage food loss and waste.

The Food Loss and Waste Protocol is the partnership, and they have developed the global Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard for quantifying and reporting on food removed from the food supply chain due to waste or loss.

The new Standard was launched at the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) 2016 Summit June 6 in Copenhagen.

3GF enables public-private partnerships to support the large-scale adoption of green technologies, practices and policies that they hope will accelerate solutions to intractable problems that markets and governments have been unable to solve on their own.

This set of global definitions and reporting requirements comes as a growing number of governments, companies and other organizions are making commitments to reduce food loss and waste.

Waste makes everybody poorer,” Denmark’s Foreign Affairs Minister Kristian Jensen said. “I am pleased that a new strong alliance between public and private actors will provide an efficient answer to the global challenge of food loss and waste. 3GF has promoted yet another green and innovative solution to global challenges.

The new Food Loss and Waste Standard will reduce economic losses for the consumer and food industry, alleviate pressure on natural resources and contribute to realizing the ambitious goals set out in the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Jensen. “We need to push for more solutions like this for the benefit of people, profit and the planet.

The Food Loss and Waste Protocol is the multi-stakeholder partnership convened by the nonprofit World Resources Institute and begun at the Global Green Growth Forum in 2013.

This standard is a real breakthrough,” declared Andrew Steer, president and CEO, World Resources Institute. “There’s simply no reason that so much food should be lost and wasted. Now, we have a powerful new tool that will help governments and businesses save money, protect resources and ensure more people get the food they need.

FLW Protocol partners include some of the largest and most influential of organizations: The Consumer Goods Forum, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the European Union-funded FUSIONS project, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), The Waste and Resources Action Programme and World Resources Institute.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner acknowledged, “The scale of the problem of food loss and waste can be difficult to comprehend. Having this new standard by which to measure food loss and waste will not only help us understand just how much food is not making it to our mouths, but will help set a baseline for action.

UNEP is urging all countries and companies to use the new Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard to start measuring and reporting food loss and waste, in parallel to taking action to deliver on Sustainable Development Goal SDG Target 12.3: Halve food waste by 2030.

Wasting a third of the food we produce is a clear symptom of a global food system in trouble,” said President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development Peter Bakker. “The FLW Standard is pivotal to setting a reliable baseline for streamlined and efficient action on the ground for countries, cities, and small and big businesses along the food value chain.

Together with tangible business solutions,” said Bakker, “the FLW Standard can help to significantly reduce food loss and waste around the globe.”

The FLW Standard will also help reduce food loss and waste within the private sector.

In 2015, The Consumer Goods Forum, which represents more than 400 of the world’s largest retailers and manufacturers from 70 countries, adopted a resolution for its members to reduce food waste from their operations by 50 percent by 2025, with baselines and progress to be measured using the FLW Standard.

Some leading companies, like Nestle and Tesco, are already measuring and publicly reporting on their food loss and waste.

An executive summary of the Food Loss and Waste Protocol can be found at Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard


Main Image: In the Philippines, girls eat food offered by Feed My Starving Children, a Christian nonprofit organization. (Photo by Feed My Starving Children) Creative commons license via Flickr

Rio Summer Olympics ‘Embrace’ Sustainability

RioMaracana

The Estádio do Maracanã is a 78,838 seat open-air stadium in the city of Rio owned by the Rio de Janeiro state government. South America’s largest stadium, it will be the venue for the Rio Olympics opening ceremonies on August 5 and closing ceremonies on August 21. (Photo by Luciano Silva) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

RIO de JANEIRO, Brazil, July 14, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – A new set of sustainability measures to support the greening of the Rio Summer Olympic Games were agreed by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics Organizing Committee as far back as 2013.

Expressing its commitment to achieving sustainability, the “Embrace” Rio 2016 plan is based on three pillars: Planet, People and Prosperity, and has been established with the input of the federal, state and municipal governments.

The slogan “Embrace” Rio 2016 is being used in all Games communications related to the Sustainability Plan. The idea behind the name is to engage people, inviting them to be part of the transformation promoted by the event, which opens on Friday, August 5 and ends on Sunday, August 21.

A technical cooperation agreement with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was signed at the launch of the sustainability program in August 2013. It expected to provide an evaluation plan and mediation around the subject of sustainability between Rio 2016 and the people of Brazil.

Denise Hamú, UNEP’s representative in Brazil, said, “Our goal is to integrate sustainability in all organizational processes, reducing the impact of the Games and setting an example of good practice for society as a whole. Together, sports and environment are powerful tools for sustainable development. For this reason, the UNEP has worked in partnership with the Olympic Movement over the last two decades.

Sustainability round tables originated during dialogue between the Organizing Committee and civil society groups in 2013. They began in 2014 and examined six topics in depth: urban mobility, climate change, sustainability education, protection of children and teenagers, diversity and inclusion, and transparency.

The Games will inevitably generate environmental impacts,” says the Organizing Committee. “We are talking about high consumption of water, energy, raw materials, food and so on. Rio 2016 undertakes to use all resources conscientiously and rationally, prioritizing certified, reusable and recyclable materials.”

 Discussions led to awareness, and the Organizing Committee has acted responsibly in many ways during planning and preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

  • 100 percent certified wood: Rio 2016 undertook to buy all the timber items required for the Games from sources with chain of custody certification. That means that the timber is logged sustainably and traceability is guaranteed from the time the timber leaves the forest through to the end user.
  • Sustainable headquarters: Rio 2016 has its headquarters in a temporary building. After the Olympics are over, it will be taken down, and 80 percent of the material will be reused in future structures. While in use, the building consumes 70 percent less energy than ordinary buildings. Timers on bathroom wash basins, intelligent flushes and a rainwater collection system enables the Organizing Committee to cut water consumption.
  • Material life-cycle analysis: The Organizing Committee has analyzed the life-cycles of 106 materials being used by the Games visual identity team to ensure conscientious and sustainable choices and minimize their environmental impact.

With the intention of delivering low-impact Games, the Organizing Committee has completed a study of the carbon footprint of the Rio Games and defined an emissions management strategy, based on impact measurement, cutting emissions, mitigation where possible and offsetting what cannot be mitigated.

To avert some of the consequences of energy use at the Games, Rio 2016 and Worldwide TOP Partner Dow announced the most comprehensive carbon dioxide (CO2) offset program in Olympic Games history. As the Official Carbon Partner of Rio 2016, Dow will mitigate 500,000 tons of CO2 equivalents through third party-verified emissions reductions somewhere else.

  • Technology-based carbon mitigation plan: This plan aims to mitigate 100 percent of the emissions generated by the Rio 2016 Games, which will amount to 500,000 tonnes of co2eq direct emissions from operation of the Games and 1.5 million tonnes of co2eq from spectators. Mitigation projects involve the agriculture, manufacturing and civil engineering sectors, and they will reap short, medium and long-term benefits.
RioVLT

One of Rio’s new state-of-the-art trams makes its way through the new-look waterfront district (Photo by Bruno Bartholini / Porto Maravilha) Posted for media use

Known as the VLT, Rio’s new light rail system started running in June. The high-tech trams have transformed public transport in the city center and given a futuristic look to the business district. The trams connect Santos Dumont domestic airport to the long-distance bus station, running through the waterfront district and stopping along the way at new museums and the busy cruise ship terminal. More than 200,000 people have already used the service.

Fleets of buses and trucks will be fueled by diesel containing 20 percent recycled cooking oil. Biodiesel emits less carbon and sulphur than petroleum diesel. It is estimated that 20,000 oil collectors will be involved, boosting the development of this production chain.

  • Logistics efficiency program: Logistics are a major factor in boosting the Games’ CO2 emissions. Rio 2016 is designing an intelligent route model to cut transportation time, fuel consumption and carbon emissions for the more than 30 million items to be brought in for the Games.

Allowing for public involvement has been an key part of the Organizing Committee’s work. Initial dialogue with civil society took place in 2013 and brought together 34 representatives of 24 organizations to assess the content of the Sustainability Management Plan. These meetings were held annually until this year. Organizers hope they will encourage a strong and effective post-Games transformation network.

  • Rio Alimentação Sustentável: Since 2013, Rio 2016 has been working in partnership with this voluntary organization focusing on healthy, sustainable foods. It is proposed that the Games act as a driving force to improve this sector in Brazil.

Rio 2016 has entered into partnerships with the Marine Stewardship Council and Aquaculture Stewardship Council so that suppliers can obtain sustainability certification for fish and seafood to be eaten during the Games.

For Rio 2016, one of the key points is waste management, since large volumes of waste will be generated daily during the Games. The great challenge is to minimize waste and raise awareness among spectators, athletes, volunteers about the best way to dispose of and recycle waste.

  • Rio 2016 headquarters waste management: The Organizing Committee has been operating without buying plastic cups, reducing the number of printers available and not providing individual waste bins.
  • Guide to sustainability for packaging: One of the critical points in the generation of waste is packaging. With this in mind, in April 2013, Rio 2016 published a guide to sustainable packaging, in which the committee laid down sustainability options and mandatory requirements for this category of items, including labeling, eco-design, accessibility of information and packaging materials.
  • Games waste management strategies: The strategy began during the preparatory phase and will end when the venues are dismantled. Recycling cooperatives will be involved, and the strategy is based on this sequence: waste generation avoidance → minimizing volume → managing inevitable waste → promoting behavioral change. The strategy also includes treatment of organic waste through composting, in order to reduce the amount that is sent to landfills.
  • Olympic Games Impact (OGI) study: In 2014, the Organizing Committee published its first OGI study, carried out by the Rio de Janeiro Federal University School of Engineering and containing an analysis of 22 environmental, 76 socio-cultural and 25 economic indicators. The first edition relates to the period 2007-2013. A further three reports are to be published, covering impacts up to 2019.

After successfully hosting 44 test events, the Rio 2016 team and the venues are ready for action, with all the facilities receiving their final Olympic touches before the athletes start to arrive. The velodrome and equestrian venues, which were being monitored closely by the organizers, are in the final stage of preparation, and will be ready for the Games.

Golf as an Olympic sport was added just this year, and Rio created a golf course in the previously degraded area of Marapendi, west of Rio to host the new sport. Before the start of work, about 80 percent of the golf course land was degraded by sand extraction, and by the manufacturing and storage of pre-cast concrete.

Over at the Olympic Golf Course, Rio 2016 Sustainability Coordinator Carina Flores says the fresh vegetation has led to “a positive spiral for the development of wildlife.”

 Records indicate the presence of 263 animal species in the region today, as compared with 118 mapped before construction.

 An inspection of the golf course was conducted in December 2015, after a public civil action was filed by state prosecutors who questioned the environmental impact of the golf course construction work. Prosecutors, legal advisors and technicians environmentalists were among the inspectors.

 The forensic report from Brazil’s Court of Justice concluded, “The environmental gain in the region with the construction of the golf course is visible. In addition to the flora, which increased extensively, we can observe the different animal species that have returned to the area.

Rio 2016 is ready to welcome the world,” said International Olympic Committee Coordination Commission Chair Nawal el Moutawakel.

The Olympians of 2016 can look forward to living in an outstanding Olympic Village and competing in absolutely stunning venues,” she said. “From views of the Corcovado and Sugar Loaf Mountain to the new state-of-the-art facilities in Barra or Deodoro and the iconic Maracanã Stadium and Copacabana Beach, I cannot imagine more spectacular backdrops for the world’s top sportsmen and women to showcase their talents to a watching world.


Firms Flock to Circular Economy 100 USA

maxresdefault

By Sunny Lewis

SAN FRANCISCO, California, April 12, 2016 (Maximpact.com News)

“A circular economy is one that is restorative and regenerative by design,” says Dame Ellen MacArthur.

She has taken a special interest in circular systems. Four years after becoming the fastest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe, a 2005 record that still stands, MacArthur founded the UK charity that bears her name to advance the sustainability that flows from a well-functioning circular economy.

In the latest curve, in March the Ellen MacArthur Foundation announced the launch of a U.S. chapter of its popular international Circular Economy 100 (CE100) program.

CE100 brings together leading organizations such as Google, CocaCola and Apple, with the goal of innovating, developing and implementing circular economy opportunities.

The kick off event for CE100 USA members was a one-day workshop in San Francisco on March 31

Executives from SunPower, Tarkett and Walmart Stores were there. These latest corporate members of CE100 USA will share their expertise in implementing circular economy opportunities and learn from their new associates.

SunPower’s Chief Operating Officer Marty Neese said, “At SunPower, we are the first and only company to offer solar solutions that are as sustainable as the energy they produce by manufacturing Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Silver solar panels in facilities that are landfill-free and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.”

“We look forward to continuing our collaboration with influential organizations as a member of the international Circular Economy 100, and now here in the U.S. as a member of the CE100 USA, to create a truly regenerative economy,” said Neese.

That’s really what the CE100 does, wherever the chapter is based – member organizations enjoy unique collaboration, capacity building, networking and research opportunities to help them achieve their circular economy ambitions more quickly.

They can even learn from the world’s biggest retailer. Walmart’s senior vice president of sustainability Laura Phillips said, “Walmart is pleased to join Circular Economy 100 USA to share our learnings and learn more from other companies so that we can better engage suppliers and customers in these practices.”

ECOStructure

ECOR biogradable, infinitely recyclable advanced material can be engineered into curves or grids, among many other shapes. (Photo courtesy ECOR Global)

Noble Environmental Technologies is a San Diego, California company, a CE100 USA member and featured innovative technology partner that manufactures design-flexible building panels from the advanced green material ECOR.

ECOR solves waste stream problems by using the discarded cellulose fiber.

Developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ECOR can be made from cellulose fibers from a wide variety of materials: office paper waste, cardboard, recycled denim and other fabrics, hemp, jute, sugar cane bagasse, corn husks, wood dust and trimmings.

When retail giant Walmart decided to commit to zero waste to landfill by 2025, they turned to ECOR. There are currently 300 ECOR display units in Walmart stores across the United States.

Used by architects, designers, furniture and cabinetry manufacturers, ECOR is Cradle to Cradle® certified. Manufacturing, done in Shanghai, produces no waste, uses no chemicals and creates a biodegradable material made from 100 percent recycled content.

There are no adhesives, no chemicals, no formaldehyde, no petroleum – no additives at all.

It’s strong, structurally solid and 75 percent lighter than conventional panel product – an endlessly recyclable alternative to wood, particleboard, fiberboard, aluminum, plastic, cardboard and other composites.

Manufactured with a simple pressure and heat process, old ECOR can be broken down again to the cellulose fiber level and put back through the process to create another batch of the material in an endless circular loop.

This is the kind of company and product that Dame Ellen believes will have advantages in a resource-constrained future.

“The circular economy offers many quantified benefits, and provides a positive way forward for businesses wishing to hedge themselves from market volatility. Our 2013 report Towards the Circular Economy Vol. 2, featuring analysis by McKinsey & Co, highlighted the US$700 billion opportunity in global consumer goods material savings from adopting circular economy practices,” she said.

Take another new member of the CE100 group, Tetra Pak, which makes drinks packaging. The Swiss-Swedish company aims to offer packages entirely made of renewable materials and is already working towards this goal.

Tetra Pak packaging materials are made up of paperboard (73%), plastic (22%) and aluminium foil (5%).

The paperboard is primarily made of materials from sustainably managed forests which carry the FSC™-label. In 2014, Tetra Pak launched its first milk package made entirely from plant-based materials – paperboard and plastics derived from sugar-cane.

Tetra Pak CEO Dennis Jönsson said, “Joining the CE100 programme reflects Tetra Pak’s commitment to maintaining a leadership position in recycling and in the use of renewable materials from sustainably managed sources.”

“For organizations which embrace the opportunities offered by the circular economy, there are first-mover advantages available,” said MacArthur. “The CE100 USA program provides key insight to support organizations in their transition, and to help accelerate their rate of circular economy innovation.”


Featured image: CE100 USA logo from Ellen MacArther Foundation

Main image: Ellen MacArthur Creative Commons license via Youtube: Circular economy a massive opportunity – meet Dame Ellen MacArthur

Building in Many Shades of Green

Building_in_Many_Shades_of_Green

LEED Platinum Certified airlines office building, Schiphol, Haarlemmermeer, North Holland, the Netherlands, November 2015 (Photo by Jeroen P.M. Meijer) Creative commons license via Flickr

 

By Sunny Lewis

BRUSSELS, Belgium, March 22, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – “When you ask me, ‘what is a green building?’ I don’t have a very good answer,” confesses Josefina Lindblom, European Commission Policy Adviser on resource efficiency in the building sector.

Speaking in the second episode of the “Construction Climate Talks” series released on YouTube March 15, Lindblom says, “The building sector is one of the biggest resource users in our society. It uses about 50 percent of our extracted materials and more than 50 percent of our energy. A third of our water use goes to buildings, and more than a third of our waste is construction and demolition waste.”

“A wider approach to the use of buildings is necessary,” says Lindblom. Not only extraction and production of materials, to construction and use of the building, she says, “but also the end of life phase and what happens then.”

The web video series is a project of the Construction Climate Challenge Initiative, hosted by Volvo Construction Equipment.

“We want to promote sustainability throughout the entire construction industry,“ says Niklas Nillroth, vice president, environment and sustainability at Volvo CE. “We are hopeful that our film series will work as a contributing factor in the matter of making people aware and to enhance cross-sector collaboration throughout the construction industry value chain.”

In November 2015, Construction Climate Talks premiered with the first episode, three minutes featuring Professor Johan Rockström. Executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, he teaches natural resource management at Stockholm University.

“If we continue with business as usual,” says Rockström on camera, “even a conservative assessment concludes that we are on an average pathway towards a four degree Celsius warming by the end of this century. We would have sea levels irreversibly moving beyond one meter of height, we would have new kinds of pandemics, heat waves, disruptions such as droughts and floods. Unless we have a good, stable planet, everything else would be unachievable anyway.”

But some still have “an obsolete, erroneous logic” that sustainability could threaten the economy,” he said. “Nothing could be more wrong.”

Even though many people still resist change, Rockström is optimistic that “the grand majority” sees that “sustainability is a vehicle for success, not an impediment to success.”

“We should move with the coalitions of the willing,” says Rockström, “and show by doing that this is actually something that benefits business, gets better profit, gets better reputation and is even more attractive.”

While energy use is only part of the green building equation, it’s an important part.

Across the European Union, energy efficiency regulation for greener commercial buildings is fast approaching, in line with the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement reached by 195 governments at the annual United Nations climate conference in December.

“A decree in France is expected in June for commercial buildings. They will be required to reduce their energy use by 25 percent by 2020. No question that most of European countries will follow in the coming years,” wrote Siham Ghalem-Tani, executive assistant and partnership relations officer with the French Institute for Building Efficiency (IFPEB) on March 14. This business-led coalition is intended to implement “an ambitious and efficient energy and environmental transition” in the European real estate and building sectors.

The European energy competition CUBE 2020, now in its third year, is serving as a catalyst for tenants of commercial buildings to meet the EU’s energy reduction objectives. This year, the 123 candidates, located in France, Belgium and Luxembourg, are on track for an expected outcome of 10 percent energy savings from July 2015 to July 2016.

Julien Cottin, manager of the Energy and Environmental Studies Centre of the Bordeaux metropolitan area, said, “Prior to our registration of four buildings in the CUBE 2020 competition, we had prioritized major works on our buildings, such as thermal renovation operations or improving energy efficiency. Our participation afforded us an opportunity to look at the uses of buildings and to adopt a new mindset.”

Cottin said, “The ‘competition’ aspect to CUBE 2020 provides a real dynamic for working on the behavior of the users of a building. The results are conclusive and motivating!”

Green building standards are becoming increasingly important to investors.

GreenUSArmyWorker

Worker installs siding during construction of environmentally-friendly green barracks on Fort Eustis, Virginia, USA. All new construction in the Department of Defense must qualify for Silver certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standard, 2009. (U.S. Army Environmental Command photo by Neal Snyder) public domain.

Last week, the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) survey, the first global effort to assess the environmental and social performance of the global property sector, announced the launch of a Health and Well-being Module.

This optional supplement to the GRESB annual survey for institutional investors evaluates and benchmarks actions by property companies and funds to promote the health and well-being of employees, tenants and customers. It features 10 new indicators, including: leadership, needs assessment, implementation and performance monitoring.

“The design, construction and operation of our built environment has a profound impact on individuals and populations,” said Chris Pyke, chief operating officer with GRESB, which has offices in Washington, Amsterdam and Singapore.

The GRESB Health and Well-being Module is now available in pre-release on the GRESB website and will be open for submission starting April 1.

“The GRESB Health and Well-being Module will make real estate companies and funds more transparent and make comparative information more accessible and actionable for investors. This represents an important step toward resolving long-standing market failures and making health an investible attribute of real estate,” says Dr. Matt Trowbridge, associate professor, associate research director, Department of Public Health, University of Virginia School of Medicine.

In the United States, green buildings abound, encouraged by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council, co-founded by current CEO Rick Fedrizzi and partners in 1993. Fedrizzi also sits on the GRESB Board.

The U.S. Green Building Council pioneered the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification program, now used worldwide.

LEED offers four certification levels for new construction: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. These correspond to the number of credits achieved in five green design categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality.

In addition to its many other activities, the U.S. Green Building Council is a contributing partner to the Dodge Data & Analytics World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report.

Released in February, the SmartMarket Report, covers nearly 70 countries. It shows that global green building continues to double every three years.

New commercial construction was the top sector for expected green building projects in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Poland, Saudi Arabia, China and India.

The United States shared the lowest expected levels of green commercial building with Australia.

Still, 46 percent of U.S. respondents indicated they expected to embark on new institutional green projects in the next three years.

Across all regions, many survey respondents forecast that more than 60 percent of their projects will be green by 2018.

“International demand for green building, due in great part to the LEED green building program’s global popularity, has grown steadily over the years,” said Fedrizzi.

“Countries are looking for tools that support stable and sustainable economic growth. International business leaders and policymakers recognize that a commitment to transforming the built environment is crucial to addressing major environmental challenges,” he said.

The SmartMarket report shows that increasing consumer demand has pushed the world’s green building market to a trillion-dollar industry, a surge that has led to a parallel increase in the scope and size of the green building materials market, now expected to reach $234 billion by 2019.

It appears that the European Commission’s Lindblom is going to get the “wider approach” to green building she has been seeking.


Featured image: BMW Head Office, Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Designed by Hans Hallen, the building has recently been refurbished and modernized, implementing green principles. Thermal comfort and energy efficiency were addressed with lighting, ventilation, hot water supply and back-up solutions which required the construction of a satellite Energy Centre. The building achieved a 5-star As Built Green Star South Africa rating, December 2015. (Photo by Colt Group) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

Making Plastic Waste Disappear

bottlecaps_plastic

Some plastics are just lucky, they become the raw materials for artworks. (Photo by Steven Depolo) creative commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis,

WASHINGTON, DC, March 15, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – Every ton of plastic bottles recycled saves about 3.8 barrels of oil, says the Plastics Industry Trade Association, which has just launched a Zero Net Waste program to help members evaluate waste reduction opportunities and maximize landfill diversion.

The $427 billion U.S. plastics industry, employs nearly one million American workers and is the third largest manufacturing industry in the United States.

Founded in 1937 and based in Washington, DC, the Plastics Industry Trade Association was originally the Society of the Plastics Industry is still known by those initials, SPI.

The Zero Net Waste program grew out of the SPI Recycling Committee’s Emerging Trends Subcommittee, chaired by Kathy Xuan, CEO of PARC Corp, and then developed by a broad workgroup of the association’s members.

“As chair of the subcommittee and a recycler who provides zero landfill services,” said Xuan, “we feel this program will be instrumental in providing tools and resources to accelerate the industry’s pursuit of zero waste.”

The ZNW program manual is designed to enable companies of all sizes to begin pursuing zero waste in their facilities, from building the business case for zero net waste, to educating employees and offering practical guidance on finding the right service providers.

The Zero Net Waste Program isn’t just for companies looking for Zero Waste certification, said Robert Flores, director of sustainability for Berry Plastics, a global manufacturer and marketer of plastic packaging based in Evansville, Indiana.

“The accompanying manual is applicable to a wide variety of companies and provides the basics for how get started, as well as how to enhance existing programs that a company already may have in place,” said Flores.

Reducing reliance on landfills provides both environmental and economic benefits, which are being driven by many of the major brand owners in the plastics industry today, said Nina Goodrich, executive director of GreenBlue, an environmental nonprofit based in Charlottesville, Virginia that works towards the sustainable use of materials.

“GreenBlue and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition support SPI’s Zero Net Waste Program,” Goodrich said. “Providing companies the tools and resources to demonstrate leadership in landfill diversion is an important step towards reducing carbon emissions and developing a circular economy.”

In Europe, companies are working towards reducing the negative impact of plastics on the environment by contributing to a circular economy, and many are seeking funding for these efforts from Horizon 2020.

Horizon 2020 is the biggest ever EU Research and Innovation program with nearly €80 billion of funding available over the seven years 2014 to 2020, in addition to the private investments that this seed money will attract.

Making Plastic Waste Disappear

Baled plastics in Switzerland awaiting a buyer (Photo by mbeo) creative commons license via Flickr

The European Commission’s Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, ESME, manages the calls for proposals under Horizon 2020’s societal challenge, Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials.

The agency is funding projects under the Horizon 2020 program that guarantee a sustainable supply and use of raw materials, and the protection and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems.

On December 8, 2015 EASME organized a networking meeting for 21 waste-related research and innovation projects.

The meeting kicked off 13 projects selected under Horizon 2020’s “Waste: A resource to recycle, reuse and recover raw materials” call for proposals in 2015.

This year, by the call deadline March 8, the European Commission had received 333 proposals for Horizon 2020 funding for projects in the areas of climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials.

A budget of about €283 million is available in 2016 for projects in these areas. In April, independent expert panels will evaluate the proposals, choosing which ones to fund.

A project funded this way is revolutionizing the secure envelope market. Inspired by EU efforts to promote products made from eco-friendly materials, this Italian initiative seeks to replace envelopes made from polluting polyethylene plastic, with paper, laminated with eco-plastic that incorporates tamper-indication techniques.

The goal of the SELOPE project is to produce at industrial scale an innovative security envelope, made from certified Forest Stewardship Council paper, laminated with eco-plastics and Mater-Bi, a biodegradable, compostable bioplastic made from plants.

By using these innovative materials, the company says it cuts its CO2 emissions, diverts waste from landfills and promotes recycling and compostability.

In the UK, Impact Laboratories Ltd. has developed a method for the cost-efficient separation of mixed polymers, using a patent pending process of vertically arranged blades oscillating to produce separation.

Developed to meet the needs of the recyclers, the process involves a low capital and operational expenditure. This opens the equipment to small and medium sized recyclers across Europe, allowing them to separate plastics which are now classed as too expensive to separate.

This adds value to the recycler, creates jobs, reduces the plastic going to landfill, and provides manufacturers with a rich source of useable recycled material at a local level.

“Our technology has the potential to make a major change in the way plastics are recycled across Europe,” Impact says. “Every unit will reduce plastic to landfill by 2,000 tonnes a year, helping Europe meet the EU goals for plastic recycling by 2020.”

plasticbottles

Crushed plastic bottles awaiting recycling (Photo by Lisa Risager) creative commons license via Flickr

The European Commission has adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Package.

Still working its way through the legislative process is a proposal on waste sets an EU target for recycling of 75 percent of packaging waste by 2030; and a binding target to reduce landfill to maximum of 10 percent of all waste by 2030.

It specifies simplified and improved definitions, harmonized calculation methods for recycling rates throughout the EU will be coupled with economic incentives for packaging producers to put greener products on the market and support recovery and recycling schemes.


Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Closing the Loop: EU Quarrels Over Circular Economy Plan

MEPs2015

By Sunny Lewis

BRUSSELS, Belgium, December 30, 2015 (Maximpact.com News) – The European Commission has adopted a new Circular Economy Package it says will help European businesses and consumers contribute to “closing the loop” of product lifecycles through greater recycling and re-use.

But Members of the European Parliament are critical of the new package.

The Commission says its plan will extract the maximum value and use from all raw materials, products and waste, encouraging energy savings, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and bringing benefits to Europe’s environment and economy.

The changes are needed, the Commission says, because global competition for resources is increasing. The concentration of resources outside the EU, particularly critical raw materials, makes industry and society within the 28 Member States dependent on imports and vulnerable to high prices, market volatility, and the political situation in supplying countries.

The new Circular Economy Package sets a common EU target for recycling 65 percent of municipal waste and 75 percent of packaging waste by 2030.

The plan calls for a binding target to reduce landfill to a maximum of 10 percent, with a complete ban on landfill for separately collected waste.

There will be economic incentives for producers to put greener products on the market and support recovery and recycling schemes for packaging, batteries, electric and electronic equipment as well as vehicles, among other products.

There are also plans to harmonize the way recycling rates are calculated across the Member States.

The proposals require action at all stages of the life cycle of products – from the extraction of raw materials, through material and product design, the production, distribution and consumption of goods, repair, re-manufacturing and re-use schemes, all the way through to waste management and recycling.

All these stages are linked. For instance, use of certain hazardous substances in the production of products can affect their recycling potential, and improvements in terms of resource and energy efficiency can be made at all stages.

In July 2014, under President Jose Barroso, the Commission adopted a Circular Economy Package that included a proposal for the review of waste legislation in response to the legal obligation to review the targets of three Directives: the Waste Framework Directive, the Landfill Directive, and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive.

Then, on November 1, 2014, a new Commission took office under President Jean-Claude Juncker. In its 2015 Work Programme, the Juncker Commission announced its intention to withdraw the 2014 proposal on Waste Review and to replace it with a new, more ambitious proposal to promote the circular economy by the end of 2015.

Two main reasons motivated this withdrawal.

First, the overall approach presented in July 2014 had an exclusive focus on waste management, without exploring synergies with other policies such as the development of markets for secondary raw materials.

Second, the Juncker Commission wanted to make the proposal more country specific and improve the implementation of waste policy, particularly existing problems of non-compliance.

On December 2, the Juncker Commission presented its new Circular Economy Package to the European Parliament.

The new initiative would establish a framework to overcome past shortcomings and create conditions for the development of a circular economy “with a clear and ambitious political vision combined with effective policy tools that can drive real change on the ground,” the Juncker Commission said.

The Commission said its new package “contributes to broad political priorities by tackling climate change and the environment while boosting job creation, economic growth, investment and social fairness.”

KatainenJyrki

The package was prepared by a core project team co-chaired by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, with the close involvement of Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Karmenu Vella and Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska.

Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development, said, “Our planet and our economy cannot survive if we continue with the ‘take, make, use and throw away’ approach. We need to retain precious resources and fully exploit all the economic value within them.”

“The circular economy is about reducing waste and protecting the environment, but it is also about a profound transformation of the way our entire economy works,” Timmermans said. “By rethinking the way we produce, work and buy we can generate new opportunities and create new jobs. With today’s package, we are delivering the comprehensive framework that will truly enable this change to happen.”

“It sets a credible and ambitious path for better waste management in Europe with supportive actions that cover the full product cycle. This mix of smart regulation and incentives at EU level will help businesses and consumers, as well as national and local authorities, to drive this transformation,” said Timmermans.

Katainen, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, said, “These proposals give a positive signal to those waiting to invest in the circular economy. Today we are saying that Europe is the best place to grow a sustainable and environmentally-friendly business.”

“This transition towards a more circular economy is about reshaping the market economy and improving our competitiveness,” said Katainen, a former Finnish prime minister. “If we can be more resource efficient and reduce our dependency on scarce raw materials, we can develop a competitive edge. The job creation potential of the circular economy is huge, and the demand for better, more efficient products and services is booming.”

The Juncker Commission is in partnership with the European Investment Bank to fund the new package.

On December 10, Vella blogged that the partners signed an amendment to the InnovFin Delegation Agreement “that will enable higher-risk, yet innovative sustainable business models and plans to access credit through InnovFin – an EU finance support programme under Horizon 2020.”

Funding of over €650 million under Horizon 2020 and €5.5 billion under the structural funds will suppport the new Circular Economy Package, the Commission said.

“The proposals are a powerful enabling framework, but we will also need substantial private sector funding directed towards the circular economy,” wrote Vella. “The European Fund for Strategic Investment (the ‘Juncker Plan’) is one tool to support this. The Commission would like to also guide future investment, steering it more towards green choices, with progressive divestment from unsustainable activities.”

Vella wrote that the EIB, the Commission and national banks plan to work together to increase awareness of circular economy financing.

But many Members of the European Parliament are not impressed with the new package.

The 65 percent target is a point of contention. Although the Juncker Commission says the new package is far more ambitious than its predecessor, MEPs point out that Barroso’s team wanted to introduce a 70 percent target in 2014.

Karl-Heinz Florenz, a German Member of the European Parliament who sits with the European People’s Party group, told the “Parliament Magazine” that the new proposal amounts to “much ado about nothing.”

Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Vice-Chair Kathleen Van Brempt of Belgium said, “This ambitious roadmap needs to be supported by specific targets, and our political group will try to build a consensus in the Parliament to introduce those targets, to make sure the roadmap is accomplished.”

Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, shadow rapporteur on the circular economy with the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, accused the Commission of, “wasting months of work and many hours of parliamentary time.”

“With a weakened waste proposal and an action plan copy-pasted from the 2010 roadmap to a resource efficient Europe, it’s clear the European Commission is failing to deliver on this important agenda for growth and jobs,” the Dutch MEP told the “Parliament Magazine.”

Greens/European Free Alliance Group Vice-Chair Bas Eickhout commented, “While we welcome the fact that the Commission has finally come forward with revised proposals on the circular economy, we are concerned that the plans are undermined by the reduced ambition. This is contrary to the commitment by the Commission for a more ambitious proposal.”

“A year on from the initial decision by the Commission to withdraw its original proposals, we have lost both time and ambition in the push to stimulate the circular economy at EU level,” said Eickhout.

Green environment spokesperson Davor Škrlec said, “It is a major shame that the Commission is not seeking to maximize the potential of the circular economy. We will seek to address some of the shortcomings in Parliament.”

Responding to criticism of the new package, Vice President Timmermans pointed out that the legally-binding 10 percent cap on land-filling was, “completely new” and that the 65 percent target for recyclables was, “an extremely ambitious goal, which for many member states will require a huge effort.”

Key actions under the Juncker Commission’s new Circular Economy Package include:

  • Funding of over €650 million under Horizon 2020 and €5.5 billion under the structural funds;
  • Actions to reduce food waste, including a common measurement methodology, improved date marking, and tools to meet the global Sustainable Development Goal to halve food waste by 2030;
  • Development of quality standards for secondary raw materials to increase the confidence of operators in the single market;
  • Measures in the Ecodesign working plan for 2015-2017 to promote reparability, durability and recyclability of products, in addition to energy efficiency;
  • A revised regulation on fertilizers, to facilitate the recognition of organic and waste-based fertilizers in the single market and support the role of bio-nutrients;
  • A strategy on plastics in the circular economy, addressing issues of recyclability, biodegradability, the presence of hazardous substances in plastics, and the Sustainable Development Goals target for reducing marine litter;
  • A series of actions on water reuse, including a legislative proposal on minimum requirements for the reuse of wastewater.
  • A clear timeline for the actions proposed and a plan for a simple and effective monitoring framework for the circular economy.

Vice President Katainen said, “We will remove barriers that make it difficult for businesses to optimize their resource use and we will boost the internal market for secondary raw materials. We want to achieve real progress on the ground and look forward to delivering on this ambition together with not only Member States, regions and municipalities, but also businesses, industry and civil society.”

LandfillUK


 

Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Main image: Members of the European Parliament in plenary session, 2015. (Photo courtesy European Parliament) © European Union 2015 – European Parliament.
Featured image: Naples, Italy struggles with longstanding garbage problems, June 2007 (Photo by Chris Beckett) under Creative Commons license via Flickr
Image 01: EU Vice-President Jyrki Katainen addresses the European Parliament, January 2015 © European Union 2015 – European Parliament. (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives Creative Commons licenses creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Image 02: Landfill at the Selly Oak Battery Park redevelopment site in Birmingham, England, May 2015 (Photo by Elliott Brown) under Creative Commons license via Flickr

Shipbreaking Moves Off the Beach

ShipbreakingWorkers

SEATTLE, Washington, October 14, 2015 (Maximpact News) – A protest by the environmental justice organization Basel Action Network (BAN) over an obsolete ship owned by Matson, Inc. being sent to a shipbreaker in India, prompted the shipping company to stop scrapping its vessels on the beaches of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

“Because of concerns with recycling practices in South Asia, Matson has decided to expressly prohibit recycling of its vessels in this region going forward,” the company said in a statement last month.

Founded in 1882, Matson provides ships goods Pacific-wide, mainly between the Hawaiian islands and the West Coast of North America. The company’s decision affects 23 vessels that will be scrapped over the next few years.

Shipbreaking companies in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh operate under dangerous and polluting conditions. Workers labor on tidal sands to cut ships by hand. They breathe in toxic fumes and asbestos, and fall victim to explosions and accidental crushing. And these crude practices pollute the beaches where the shipbreaking takes place.

According to the International Federation for Human Rights, children under the age of 15 make up nearly 20 percent of the shipbreaking workforce in Bangladesh. (see report here)

In September there was an accident on the notorious shipbreaking beach at Chittagong that killed four workers. Five other workers were killed in July, and over 200 deaths have been documented over the past five years.

“Ship owners today can no longer claim ignorance,” said Colby Self, the Green Ship Recycling director at BAN, which is based in Seattle. “They know very well the environmental and human health impacts of their ship recycling decisions, which for too long have been ignored to maximize profits.”

“Matson’s off-the-beach commitment reflects a level of corporate leadership which we hope will be echoed by other U.S. shipping companies,” said Self.

In fact, Matson’s decision is part of a growing awareness among shipping companies of the dangers of on-the-beach shipbreaking and a shift in values toward safer, less toxic ship recycling practices.

The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association and its 160 members recently voted not to permit Norwegian-owned ships to be scrapped on South Asian beaches.

Other large ship owners that have also adopted more responsible ship recycling policies include German Hapag-Lloyd, Danish Maersk Line, Royal Dutch Boskalis, Canadian CSL Group, and the Singaporean China Navigation Company.

dismantling on a beach in Bangladesh_

Globally, 1,026 ships were dismantled in 2014.

A total of 641 ships, or 74 percent of the total gross tonnage of dismantled ships, were scrapped in the beach shipbreaking yards of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, according to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, based in Brussels.

Ships contain both valuable and toxic materials. Old ships are a source of valuable scrap steel for construction industries. In addition, obsolete ships contain aluminum, copper, silver and brass.

But there are toxics in the old ships too: lead; mercury; asbestos; oil sludge; polychlorinated biphenyls; biocidal anti-fouling paint such as tributyltin; bilge water containing oil, urine, detergents and solvents; and ballast water that can contain tiny animals, plants, viruses, and bacteria.

There are greener ways to dismantle ships that keep these toxics out of the environment while recycling the valuable components.

For example, the Scrap Metal Services subsidiary All Star Metals ship recycling facility in Brownsville, Texas has been operating as a licensed ship recycling, metal processing, and environmental remediation contractor since 2003. The company handles such old vessels as the USS Forrestal, the U.S. Navy’s first supercarrier, commissioned in 1955 but now ready for scrapping.

Jacob Sterling, global head of Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility at Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company, is part of the growing consensus that is moving the shipping industry toward greener recycling.

Writing in the publication “gCaptain” last month, Sterling said, “The vast majority of ships are taken to India, Pakistan or Bangladesh to be scrapped on the beach. There is something quite wrong with that. People in flip flops on beaches are OK. But people on beaches wearing flip flops and no safety gear while taking apart massive cargo ships with hand tools is simply wrong.”

Sterling wrote, “NGOs argue that beaching must end now. We agree. In Maersk Line we have a policy on responsible ship recycling. Since 2006, we have recycled 23 ships responsibly, and we have sent none to the beach.”

But he says private corporations need government support to make this shift. “We really don’t think that the issue of unsafe and unsustainable beaching is well addressed by private companies alone,” Sterling wrote.

He says the real answer is global regulation that raises the legally acceptable minimum standard for ship recycling.

In 2009, the Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships was adopted. Yet in 2013, only two countries have ratified it, Sterling points out.

“The Hong Kong Convention is not perfect, actually it doesn’t ban beaching, it just makes it a lot harder to scrap ships this way,” wrote Sterling. “But it is the best we have, and if it entered into force, it could be improved over time. So we need more countries to ratify the convention.”

Even before the convention enters into force, it is influencing some South Asian shipbreaking operations to dismantle ships more responsibly.

The Japan-based ship classification company Nippon Kaiji Kyokai, known as ClassNK, has just issued Statements of Compliance (SoC) to two ship recycling facilities in Gujarat, India – the R.L. Kalthia Ship Breaking Pvt. Ltd. and Priya Blue Industries Pvt. Ltd.

The SoCs verify that these two facilities are in line with the Hong Kong Convention.

Although the convention has yet to enter into force, ClassNK said in a statement September 29 that “Kalthia and Priya Blue have both carried out substantial improvements to their facilities in a bid toward safer and greener ship recycling as well as developed the Ship Recycling Facility Plans required for a competent authority’s certification” under the convention.

ScrapMetalCrane


Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.


 

Featured image: Jafrabad Chittagong shipbreaking via Wikimedia Commons
Image 01: Shipbreaking workers on a beach in Bangladesh, 2011 (Photo courtesy International Maritime Organization via Flickr)
Image 02: Ships lined up for dismantling on a beach in Bangladesh, 2011 (Photo courtesy International Maritime Organization via Flickr)
Image 03: Crane dismantles an obsolete ship at the Scrap Metal Services subsidiary All Star Metals ship recycling facility in Brownsville, Texas (Photo courtesy Scrap Metal Services)