Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Europe- 11 North Sea islands seek zero waste

Eleven North Sea islands have signed up to become living laboratories for a waste-free environment.

The islands from six countries will follow a "cradle-to-cradle" philosophy, which calls for using renewable energy and products made from materials that can be endlessly reused or organically decomposed. Associated Press reports that innovations will include electric vehicles, a desalination system for drinking water that removes salt in a usable form, and purification of household water - including human waste. Technical universities from around northern Europe will try out new solutions for small-scale energy production, transportation and water management, with the aim of making the islands nearly self-sustaining by 2030, project managers said.

The EU is donating ?3.5 million ($4.5 million) for the first four-year phase. Islands from Germany, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Britain will take part. The Cradle to Cradle Island project will be overseen by officials of the northern Dutch province of Friesland.The islands have a total of nearly 50,000 residents, but those numbers swell with visitors during the summer. Some of the islands see the project as a way of attracting more tourists. Among other proposed ideas, new buildings will use paint on the internal walls containing micro-organisms that clean the air, and cement on the external walls that removes particulates from the atmosphere, he said. Different islands will experiment with various elements of sustainability. Several islands of Britain's Shetlands, a group of 100 islands north of Scotland, will tap the energy from waves off its west coast and tidal streams between the islands.

The Dutch islands of Texel and Ameland, largely comprised of dunes and bicycle paths, will get a network of electric motor scooters and recharging posts. A Dutch water research company, Wetsus, will experiment with a system to produce electricity by mixing salt water and fresh water.

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