December 9th, 2016

What will it take to integrate renewables into the power grid? Ask a cyclist

by Gernot Wagner

 

There’s nothing quite like biking down clogged city streets, weaving in and out of traffic. For short distances, it’s faster than driving. It’s liberating. It’s fun.

It also makes it painfully clear that most roads aren’t made for bikes. Make one mistake, and you might end up dead. If you do everything right and the 4,000-pounder next to you makes a mistake, you still might end up dead. Few regular urban cyclists remain entirely unharmed throughout the years: A broken bone (“cut off by a van”), a scraped shin (“car door”), or perhaps simply drenched on an otherwise dry road (“I avoided the mud puddle; the car didn’t”).

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December 2nd, 2016

The ups and downs of landfill data

by Dominic Hogg

 

There’s a hackneyed phrase that people often come out with when they are looking for improved data: ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’. Waste management strikes me as the perfect counter example: for anything other than waste collected by local authorities, the quality of the UK’s waste data is generally of terrible quality. Does that really mean we don’t know a thing about how waste should be managed?

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November 25th, 2016

Less rotting in the state of Denmark?

by Sarah Ettlinger

 

Copenhagen’s second ‘Wefood’ surplus food supermarket opened on Monday 7th November. Products in the shop are donated, for example due to damaged packaging or being close to or past best-before dates, and sold at 50-70% below the market price. The expansion builds on the success of the first Wefood, which received more than 25 tonnes of donations in the first three months after it opened in February. Both stores are run by DanChurchAid and staffed by volunteers.

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November 18th, 2016

Marking the new balanced scorecard for public procurement

by Alex Forrest

 

The UK public sector procures a huge amount of goods, services and capital items. HM Treasury’s latest estimate of gross current procurement was £213 billion, whilst gross capital procurement was £55 billion. Eunomia recently highlighted the potentially enormous gains to be made if this substantial sum – 15% of GDP – could be deployed to purchase products and services (including construction, furniture, ICT and vehicles) with good environmental credentials: it could provide a major toe-hold in the market for greener options, and call forward innovation when used tactically. Are there real signs of this happening in the UK?

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November 11th, 2016

Learning lessons on business energy efficiency

by Rob Reid and Ian Cessford

 

It’s been a year since the then Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, made her ‘policy reset’ speech setting out a new direction for UK energy policy. Since then, we’ve had leadership, ministerial, departmental and policy changes: it seems that we already need to press reset again and check that Government is designing and implementing policies that will cost-effectively deliver its emissions reduction targets and industrial strategy goals in a post-Brexit UK.

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November 4th, 2016

What’s worse than landfill?

by Mike Brown

 

For the best part of twenty years, the message for waste managers has been clear. Landfill is bad. Do everything you can to get waste out of landfill. Over that time, it has been a pretty decent rule of thumb, if one that has its limits. However, I suspect that policy makers may soon have to face up to something that those involved at the sharp end of waste operations may already understand. Certainly, landfill is bad – but no access to landfill might, for a while at least, be even worse.

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October 28th, 2016

Are councils driving waste on the road to nowhere?

by Neil Grundon

 

In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher took a scythe to a bloated and unproductive public sector with the introduction of ‘Compulsory Competitive Tendering’ (CCT). Like most things Thatcher did, it was divisive but effective, and eventually undone by its dogmatic application to everything. For Grundon, it opened up a huge opportunity, although not quite in the way we originally planned.

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