Monday, February 27, 2006

Waste of packaging finalist from Treehugger

Here a Treehugger article from their blog

"For those of us who still think a good peanut butter and jelly sandwhich is manna from the heavens, Kathleen Robinson's entry into the contest is especially heartbreaking - individually wrapped peanut butter slices. Obviously, individually wrapping each "slice" of peanut butter creates quite a bit more packaging than a simple jar would. However, Kathleen thinks she may have an even better idea, "It seems to me the inventor of this "unsticky" peanut butter could have simply sold his peanut butter in blocks, like cheese, that could be sliced with a cheese cutter (creating even less waste than a regular peanut butter jar?). Consumers could maybe even use a cheese grater on a block of peanut butter, creating shredded peanut butter, which I imagine would be good for cookies, or icecream." We're still not sold on "unsticky" peanut butter, however Kathleen's block o' peanut butter looks much better than a pile of plastic any day. Check out the picture after the jump..."

The different comments from Gizmondo and Treehugger blogs are obviuos, the Gizmondo ones are more happy to find out where they are sold, caring zero to nothing about the whole idea of the packaging waste headache(not all though!) and Treehuggers are criticizing more the packaging problem in our shops and bins.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Zero Waste - Introduction

Zero Waste is a movement to emulate natural cyclical processes where no waste exists. It will require to re-design our resource-use system. Every stage of any resource-use process must be so designed as to ensure that nothing is generated as an output, deliberately or otherwise, that does not become a useful input into another process. Any output that is destined for land, sea or air should not be a threat to planetary, animal or plant health. It seeks replace waste management with resource management.

While this is a laudible aspiration it is difficult to see how the transition from our current consumerist society could be managed as many items have been designed for a limited lifespan and will require disposal. However, this initiative provides a solution to pollution and depleting natural resources.

The movement gained publicity and reached a peak in 1998-2002, and since then has been moving from "theory into action" by focusing on how a "Zero Waste Community" is structured and behaves. The website of the Zero Waste International Alliance has a listing of communities across the globe that have created public policy to promote Zero Waste practices. See also the Eco-Cycle website for examples of how this large nonprofit is leading Boulder County, Colorado on a Zero Waste path and watch a 6-minute video about the Zero Waste big picture. Finally, there is a USA Zero Waste organization named the GrassRoots Recycling Network that puts on workshops and conferences about Zero Waste activities.

Extracted from Wikipedia

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

England - Government consults on waste strategy

England - Government consults on waste strategy

New targets to recycle up to half of all household waste is just one of a number of proposals in a major consultation on the Government's strategy for waste in England.

Launching the consultation, Minister for Local Environment Quality, Ben Bradshaw said "We've made some really positive progress since 2000: recycling and composting of household waste has doubled, nearly 50 per cent of packaging waste is being recycled and less waste is being sent to landfill. We need to put more effort into producing less waste in the first place, before considering how to make more use of the waste which is left by reusing, recycling, composting or using it as a fuel".

In a YouGov survey for Defra, only 3% of people always think about how they are going to get rid of the everyday items they buy when they no longer need or want it, half of people admitted that it never crosses their minds. Indeed, many people thought they were paying more for waste collection, treatment and disposal than they actually were. Most people (38%) think that it currently costs local authorities £10 per week to collect and deal with their household waste, in fact it is on average just £2 per household.

Among the measures being proposed are:

*Greater focus on producing less waste in the first place by:
• developing a greater emphasis on eco-design
• increased engagement with businesses and householders on waste prevention
• more agreements with businesses to take greater responsibility for their products at the end of their life

*New recycling and composting targets for household waste are proposed:
• 40% in 2010
• 45% by 2015
• 50% by 2020

Recovering more resources from businesses waste with new targets for a reduction in the proportion of commercial and industrial waste landfilled, more help for small businesses and a more joined up approach in managing waste from different sources facilitated by local authorities and regional bodies.

Making proper use of new investment to recover energy from waste as an alternative to landfill, but not at the expense of practical waste prevention and recycling by seeing a more modest growth than original estimates. It is proposed to set a target for 67% recovery of waste by 2015 by recycling, composting, energy from waste (incineration, pyrolysis and gasification) and digestion with at least 45% composting and recycling.

The consultation paper Review of England's Waste Strategy A Consultation Document February 2006 (0.8MB) is available from Defra's website

On leave

I will be on leave until monday the 20th. Thanks

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Give or Take - Hackney

...leaflet to promote the event...

The Give or Take that I organized for the 21 January in Woodberry Down area, Hackney, London was another success. We had plenty of stuff! From bric-a-brac to large furniture, including 15 chairs, that were all taken! Hackney residents are happy to have these kind of events happening in the borough. 1 tonne of goods were reused and hardly any was disposed.

I read this article "Give and take": People flock to to find new homes for unwanted goods in the NCTimes, from North San Diego and Southwest Riverside County News, USA. It says "an exploding online community of creative recyclers: The Freecycle Network, where thousands of San Diegans are coming together to give and take free stuff. " There is also a UK version as well as other many other countries.

These are some of the goods that came and left on that day:

A very old radio, no FM, but still nice looking vintage

Some of the furniture that was given but also, lets remember "Taken"!

There were also plenty of soft toys and games for kids to take home, which is great for those parents that cant afford it

Stickers are put on top of large furniture/goods so is known that it has been taken

...also books are a major given goods in the day, some very old, others only days new. Some of them are given to charity if they are not taken

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Scotland waste is growing at an alarming rate !

The Scottish Executive Environment Group Preventing Household Waste in Scotland A Consultation Paper

The amount of household waste produced in Scotland is growing at an alarming rate and if changes aren't made it may double within 20 years. The average Scottish consumer wastes £1597 per year on goods and services that they don't use, £438 of this is uneaten food.

In a bid to stem this disturbing growth in waste, the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have published a consultation paper detailing actions which could be taken by everyone. Questions are being asked of designers, retailers, consumers and local authorities and include;

• What more can be done to promote ecodesign in Scotland, and what can be done to lengthen the lifespan of products?
• What further action could be taken to minimise packaging waste and would deposit-refund schemes be the answer?
• What information on products should be used to help people choose low waste alternatives?
• Should we look further at charging households for the amount of waste they produce?
• What could be done to reduce the amount of junk mail we all receive, and the numbers of plastic bags that we consume?

What is waste prevention?

There are a number of definitions of waste prevention. The consultation document takes it to mean:
Strict avoidance - the complete prevention of waste generation by, for example, reducing unnecessary consumption
Reduction - reducing waste by designing and consuming products which generate less waste
Product re-use - re-using a product in its original form, for its original purpose or for an alternative use
Qualitative waste prevention - reducing the hazardousness of waste.

What policy tools are available to tackle waste prevention?

There are a range of policy instruments to tackle waste prevention, including:

Economic instruments. e.g. taxes. Fiscal measures are a reserved matter for HM
Treasury, although local taxation is a devolved matter.
Incentives e.g. deposit-refund schemes.
Legislation e.g. producer responsibility legislation, bans on certain hazardous
materials and on certain materials going to landfill, direct and variable charging for
the collection of household waste.
Education and awareness raising, to change values/attitudes and then behaviour, e.g.
‘resource efficient shopping’, home composting, real nappies.
Voluntary agreements and partnerships such as supply chain and community
partnerships, e.g. on product design and packaging, take back/reuse, and direct

“Local authorities are well placed to take a lead on waste prevention and are key in engaging local communities to take part in waste prevention activities.” Women’s Environmental Network.

Page 25 discusses Local Authorities role on waste prevention measures

You can download this file (pdf) in here

Friday, February 03, 2006

Europe - top priority to waste prevention

The EU waste strategy gives top priority to waste prevention, followed by treatment measures such as recycling, re-use, incineration (with energy recovery), and as a last resort, landfilling. Precluding the increasing quantities of municipal waste from landfilling is forecasted to lead to an increase in the volume of incinerated waste across the EU and expand the related recycling market.

So lets remember whats coming, or what needs to be done to improve the current situation within prevention/minimisation schemes.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Australia report shows 27.7% reduction in plastic bag use likely in 2005

Good news from Australia!

Consultants Nolan-ITU have published an update report providing estimates on the use of single-use lightweight plastic carry bags in the period January to June 2005, and compares these figures against the December 2002 baseline.

The report draws the following conclusions:

There is clear evidence from bag import data and Australian bag manufacturers that there has been a reduction in bag usage in Australia between 2002 and 2004, which has continued into 2005.

It is estimated the reduction in lightweight HDPE bags from 2002 to the end of 2005 will be 27.7% or 1.65 billion bags per year.

The reduction in the supermarket sector is estimated to be higher than other retail sectors reflecting a higher level of activity by companies and community organisations in these stores. It is estimated that the 2002-2005 reduction in the supermarket sector is 33% or higher if adjusted for store growth.

The reduction in LDPE shopping bags has been more significant in 2005, with imports dropping an estimated 68.5% from 2002 imports. Industry observations are that the reductions in bag use over the past two years are the result of increased consumer awareness, better staff training and the more widespread availability and use of heavier duty reusable carry bags.

In 2003, the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) challenged Australian retailers to establish a National Code of Practice for the Management of Plastic Bags which included a range of targets relating to the reduction and recycling of retail carry bags. These targets included a 25% reduction in the number of HDPE bags issued by end of 2004 against the base of December 2002 and a 50% reduction by the end of 2005.

In response to this challenge, the Australian Retailers' Association (ARA) developed a Code of Practice for the Management of Plastic Bags. This included a commitment to the EPHC targets. The ARA Code focuses on HDPE carry bags. (It was estimated in 2002 that HDPE bags account for over 85% of total carry bags by number.) The ARA submitted a report to the EPHC on the progress of activity (including progress against the target of 25% bag reduction by the end of 2004).

A further report in early 2005 reported progress to end of 2004. The ARA has submitted a further report to the EPHC on the progress of activity in September 2005. In August 2005 the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) engaged Nolan-ITU to undertake a study to report on bag usage over the period January to June 2005. The aim of the study is to identify the level of bag use across all retail sectors and to compare this to data presented in December 2002.

The methodology utilised in the study is therefore focussed primarily on data obtained at a bag manufacturers' and import level. Where possible, supporting data has also been obtained from retailers across many retail sectors.

Copies of the interim report Plastic Retail Carry Bag Use 2002 - 2005 Consumption (0.2 MB)
Download the pdf from the DEH's website

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