September 23rd, 2016

Myth takes – “It all just gets sent to China”

china-recycling

by Peter Jones

 

There seems to be a lurking suspicion out there that most of the UK’s recycling gets sent to China. People complain that this is a farcical state of affairs which negates the value of recycling. Some seem to think that, once recycling gets to China, it’s more likely to be buried or burned than recycled. Do these ideas have little any basis in reality?

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September 16th, 2016

Released without charge: inside England’s carrier bag data

trolley-of-bags

by Steve Watson

 

Back in July, six months after England adopted a five pence charge on single use plastic bags (SUPBs), the government released the first data showing how the measure has affected consumption. The headline figure reported in the media was a reduction of 83%, which looks like a fantastic result – especially considering that Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland reported smaller reductions of 76%, 80% and 71% in the first years of their respective bans.

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September 9th, 2016

Can we sort out the contamination confusion?

mrf-sort-lines

by Peter Jones and Andy Grant

 

The latest flurry of disparagement around the 2014/15 stats on local authority recycling rejects provides an unfortunate reminder that this is a confusing topic. Indeed, it seems it is easy to misunderstand even if, like the Daily Mail and Daily Express, you’ve had it explained to you at length.

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September 2nd, 2016

Beyond the grave: environmentalism and death

Cimetiere_saxon_Sighisoara

by Steve Watson

 

While we may never know for sure if there is life after death, we can be sure that there will be environmental impacts. If it weren’t bad enough that we spend our lives consuming natural resources and steadily accruing huge carbon footprints, thanatophobic environmentalists may add fears of ongoing emissions and land use to the other horrors of the grave.

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August 26th, 2016

Myth takes: the great Pacific garbage patch

Plastic Bag Hooked

by Chris Sherrington and Simon Hann

 

People are increasingly aware of the growing problem of plastic in our oceans. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told, “You know, there’s a great big island of plastic in the middle of the Pacific”. More often than not, they quickly follow up by mentioning that thankfully there’s a project under way to solve the problem by cleaning up the plastic. While it’s good that more people understand that marine plastics are a cause for concern, it’s unfortunate if the only two things they “know” about it are not entirely true.

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August 19th, 2016

Full BREEAM ahead: raising the BAR on low carbon building

Land Rover BAR base 2

by Quentin Scott

 

It’s a sad fact that there has been more bad news than good on sustainable building in the UK in recent times. After the scrapping of the Green Deal without replacement, the unexpected reversal of the Zero Carbon Homes policy and the defeat of efforts to reintroduce building standards through the Housing and Planning Act this year, there’s been little to cheer for those interested in improving the carbon efficiency of our built environment.

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August 12th, 2016

Turning up the heat on energy strategy

Pilot Light

by Adam Baddeley and Rob Reid

 

Although heating accounts for almost 50% of UK total energy consumption, it remains strangely absent from the renewable energy debate. Former Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd brought it up last November, but only as a begrudging admission that slow progress was putting us way off track to meet 2020’s 15% Renewable Energy Directive (RED) target. Yet just a week later, Rudd’s ‘policy reset’ speech contained no major goals on renewable heat – instead, it signalled renewed support for gas to replace coal-fired electricity generation backed by streamlined regulatory and consenting requirements for hydraulic fracturing.

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