Thursday, 30 April 2009

UK Wind Turbine Manufacturer Closing

Greetings,

Despite the number of assurances being made by the goverment I was very sorry to read about the closure of the Vestas facility on the Isle of Wight. Vestas are the largest global manufacturer of wind turbines and whilst their main output from that site had been for the US market, there were plans afoot to adapt it when the UK started to adopt the technology.


However it seems they might not get that opportunity and potentially 700 people could lose their jobs. These types of businesses are fundamental to the continuing growth in the UK of a 'green economy' and to future sustainable energy production.

If only hope the Government would bail out the good guys and/or create an upturn in this market in order to prevent the closure of the plant and the potential loss of their skilled workforce.

One step forward, two steps back?

Lucy.

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Friday, 24 April 2009

Foundation Reducing Manchester's Carbon Footprint

Greetings,

A new fund has been launched in Manchester called 'Foundation', backed by the NWDA and managed by Groundwork. The aim of the fund is to provide opportunities for individuals and businesses across the North West to receive funding for carbon reduction projects.

This scheme offers fantastic opportunities for carbon reduction in Greater Manchester, and they already have a number of schemes running in the area, which are already saving approximately 40 tonnes of CO2 per annum. Their website also allows you to make donations which are not only guaranteed to be spent in the North West, but also allow you to genuinely carbon offset for your individual and business carbon footprints.

The project has received an initial investment of £1.6m from the NWDA and it's aim is to generate a further £3m of donations across the next three years. Energy and Climate Change Minister Joan Ruddock MP said: “The work being done in the North West should be seen as an example to everyone of what we need to be doing to meet our ambitious emissions reduction targets.”

This is a very encouraging scheme and I for one hope that they receive the funding and support they deserve to make a positive impact on carbon reduction in Greater Manchester.

Onwards & upwards!

Lucy.

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Friday, 17 April 2009

5 Things You Might Not Know About The WEEE Directive:

1. The WEEE Directive became European law in February 2003 and Britain has been famously slow to adopt the legislation. It was supposed to be implemented by Member States by 13 August 2004 and come into force by 13 August 2005. In the UK it was finally adopted at the beginning of 2007, but full producer responsibility was delayed until 1 July. It imposes responsibility for the disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment on the manufacturers of such equipment. Those companies should establish an infrastructure for collecting WEEE, in such a way that "Users of electrical and electronic equipment from private households should have the possibility of returning WEEE at least free of charge".

2. All electronic/electrical distributors who are not a member of the DTS (Distributor Take-back Scheme) are obliged to provide a free disposal scheme for household equipment when you purchase a replacement piece of equipment. This does not have to be exactly the same product, for instance, you can swap your big old telly for a fancy new plasma TV and still expect the retailer to take away the old one. If you are not making a like-for-like (i.e. of equivalent type or fulfills the same function) purchase the distributor is not obliged to dispose of your old equipment. So, don’t expect to drop off your washing machine if you are buying a toaster!

3. As a consumer you are in no way legally obliged to separately dispose of your WEEE, you are however strongly encouraged to make use of the free disposal services on offer to reduce the amount of electronic waste going to landfill, and to help save energy and resources.

4. As with most technical areas, there are lots of acronyms related to the WEEE Directive. For instance your council will almost certainly be able to accept WEEE at your local tip for free, but only if your HWRC (Household Waste Recycling Facility, or local tip) is classified as a DCF (Designated Collection Facility), and the DCF is likely to send the material to an AATF (Approved Authorised Treatment Facility) or for export via an AE (Approved Exporter). Most tips are classified now as DCFs. It just means they are allowed to accept WEEE, AATFs are places that are allowed to process WEEE in the UK and the amount they process is recorded and used to measure against the amount of WEEE produced or imported.

5. Product categories included within the WEEE Directive include: large household appliances, small household appliances, IT and telecommunications equipment, consumer equipment, lighting equipment, electrical and electronic tools, toys leisure and sports equipment, medical devices, monitoring and control instruments & automatic dispensers.

If you have any problems when disposing of WEEE, your local council can generally help you, but for further information you can contact the VCA who are responsible for enforcing legislative compliance in the UK. For more information on the WEEE directive see; BERR, The Environment Agency or Netregs.

I hope this helps cast some light on what is quite confusing piece of legislation.

Onwards & upwards!


Lucy.

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Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Manchester Builds a Greener Future

Greetings,

Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority have finally announced the signing of the deal with Viridor Laing to build and run Materials Recovery Facilities, Anaerobic Digestion Facilities and Combined Heat & Power Facilities as their press release announced last week:

"Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA) today announced that it has signed a 25 year Private Finance Initiative waste and recycling contract with Viridor Laing (Greater Manchester) Limited. Today’s deal will trigger a £640 million construction programme, creating a network of state-of-the-art recycling facilities over the next 5 years."

It is estimated that the construction of the facilities will bring at least 5000 new jobs into the North West along with a further 116 when the facilities are in place and operational.

Whilst the RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel) aspect of the proposals is less desirable in my view, the keys to making it more sustainable are a) for the GMWDA to genuinely, with partners Viridor, to influence waste minimisation across Greater Manchester - thereby reducing waste especially the non-recyclable/compostable elements; and b) to try to minimise the toxicity of the residual waste which will become a RDF product - the cleaner the garbage in the cleaner the garbage out i.e. into the air/water/land - again it's all down to education and procurement/production.

Amazing that Manchester is finally getting the large scale capital investment it deserves and which will not only help to improve local employment but strategically will have a massive long term effect on recycling and sustainable waste management levels in the conurbation . Well done to the GMWDA team who've pulled off this investment at a time of great financial difficulty, I know they've all worked incredibly hard to make it happen - full marks to those dedicated people.

Onwards & upwards!

Lucy.

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Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Flights for Lights?

Greetings

I'm sure many of you will have seen the recent post on the Guardian's Ethical Living blog, for those that haven't here is a picture of the latest stroke of genius to emerge from Tesco:


That's right, it's not a misprint, if you buy environmentally friendly light bulbs, Tesco will allow you to convert your clubcard points into air miles!!!

This is a disturbing example of a society which thinks that offsetting is a viable alternative to making real changes to lifestyle. How can anyone reason that the amount of energy reduced by installing low energy bulbs will ever equate to the massive amount of carbon generated by passenger flights?

I think that businesses like Tesco should set a better example to their customers, by not allowing them excuses for producing unnecessary carbon. Tesco and other supermarkets have made significant improvements recently i.e. their campaigns to minimise easter egg packaging and plastic bag usage & let's hope that they continue in that vein, making significant steps in waste minimisation by not offering customers the easy option/opt out.

Onwards & upwards!

Lucy.

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Thursday, 9 April 2009

BASF Driving For Sustainable Automobiles

Greetings,

Some good news from the continent, the German Ministry of Education & Research has sponsored a consortium headed by BASF €21m to develop a new generation of high-energy lithium-ion batteries.

The aim is to develop batteries which will be capable of running hybrid and fully electric automobiles which are safe, highly effective and affordable. The aim is to develop batteries which will enable these vehicle to travel 200km from a single charge, by comparison to their current range of c50km using existing technology.

It's worrying though, that the more pressing concerns of where the energy to power these batteries will be sourced from is not seeing similar capital investment.

Nevertheless, hopefully this represents one step towards more environmentally focussed automotive industry and for more sustainably driven vehicles in the not too distant future.

Onwards & upwards!

Lucy.

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Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Manchester To Halve Construction Waste

Greetings,

I must applaud the recent commitment by Manchester City Council to halve construction waste sent to landfill by 2012. They will be working in partnership with organisations such as Laing O'Rourke, Balfour Beatty, ASDA and Marks & Spencers. (for a full list of signatories see here)

The construction industry is responsible annually for 25 million tonnes of waste being sent to landfill, much of which may include virgin timbers, paints & fixtures which are perfectly suitable for re-use or recycling. It is very encouraging to see so many large regional & national contractors committing to this level of waste reduction and hopefully where they lead, others will follow.

Onwards & upwards!

Lucy.

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Friday, 3 April 2009

One great idea, one minor drawback!

Greetings,

I was recently shown a really interesting idea to help reduce the amount of e-waste being generated and a pretty natty way to personalise your PC. The Cardboard Computer Case was designed by Francesco Biasci for the Greener Gadgets Design Competition.



The idea is that by using recycled cardboard, the amount of consumer waste created by computer disposal would be reduced, modern computers on average having a life cycle of between 4-5 years. The main drawback has to be the potential fire hazard of using PC components inside a highly flammable substance, and the question has to be asked whether or not the cardboard would be viable for recycling after it was coated in fire retardants?

I do applaud Francesco for thinking outside of the box (pardon the pun!) and this kind of thinking and challenging of norms will eventually have a real impact upon the amount of waste we produce at home and in our businesses.

Onwards and upwards!

Lucy.

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