May 25th, 2018

Sanitary check: a year’s progress on menstrual products

Tampon Applicator Beach Litter

by Katharine Blacklaws and Natalie Fee

 

The ‘Blue Planet Effect’ following David Attenborough’s celebrated documentary series has led to a wide-ranging and popular ‘War on Plastic’. It has been endorsed by both the Prime Minister and the Queen; while organisations across the land, ranging from the BBC and Parliament to small businesses, have taken action to reduce or eliminate single use plastics. But while our cultural acceptance of the ubiquity of throwaway plastic is undergoing a serious challenge, attitudes to the 4.3 billion disposable sanitary products (sanpro) that are used in the UK every year seem slower to change, despite the large amount of plastic they contain. Hardly anyone would flush plastic bags down the loo, but we don’t apply the same standard to sanpro.

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May 18th, 2018

Infrastructure: can less be more?

by Leidy Klotz

 

If her book sales are any indication, you or someone you know have probably used Marie Kondo’s “KonMari™” method for tidying up your home. Sure, Kondo’s approach, found in her wildly successful The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has some space-saving sock-folding tips, but the real tidying benefits come only if you follow her instructions to subtract everything you don’t love from your home.

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May 4th, 2018

From rags to riches? Second hand clothing restrictions in East Africa

by Harriet Parke

 

On a recent trip to Kenya, my interest was caught by the ‘mitumba’ (Swahili for ‘second-hand clothing’) stalls. You find them clustered in the vivid, bustling and dust-filled markets at the centre of each town, and even dotted along residential streets. There was a strange dissonance between the unfamiliar surroundings and the rows of  branded t-shirts and shoes, just like you might find in any clothing store in Bristol, festooning the stalls.

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April 27th, 2018

Bad news: why journalists get the environment wrong

by Mike Brown

 

Listening to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme earlier this year, I heard an interviewer premise a question by saying that coffee cups weren’t really disposable because they couldn’t be recycled. Read that again – it makes no sense however you look at it. While it betrays a pretty weak grasp of what “disposable” means, in itself it’s a fairly harmless blunder – but it led to me to reflect on how often media outlets, even those you might regard as ‘quality media’, get things wrong on environment issues, and the impact that this has.

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April 20th, 2018

Spending review: what waste management costs councils

by Peter Jones

 

Last month the National Audit Office (NAO) published an assessment of the financial sustainability of English local authorities. Some of the findings were pretty stark, with the NAO reporting that “spending on services has fallen by 19.2% in real terms” since 2010/11, with expenditure on areas other than social care falling by 32.6%. The NAO further stated that:

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April 13th, 2018

China crisis: what import restrictions mean for Europe

by Ad Lansink

 

Over recent years, the Chinese government became increasingly aware that solid waste being imported into China for recycling also contained large amounts of dirty and hazardous wastes. To ensure the health of its citizens and protect China against serious environmental pollution, in 2013 it launched ‘Operation Green Fence’, which stepped up container inspections with the aim of stopping shipments of illegal and low quality waste. This was followed in 2017 with operation ‘National Sword’, which specifically targeted imports of WEEE and industrial waste.

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March 29th, 2018

Networking opportunity: cutting carbon emissions with heat networks

by Molly Hickman

 

Through the Climate Change Act, the UK is committed to reducing its carbon emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. Central to meeting this important goal is the decarbonisation of heat: according to government data, in 2009 heating-related emissions accounted for 38% of the UK’s carbon footprint.

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