UK may abandon towns to rising sea levels
As the UK continues to build houses on flood plains, the Environment Agency is warning action has to be taken to protect coastal and low lying towns and villages. Planning for a 4C rise in temperature and dealing with the resulting extreme weather and rising sea levels, requires an approach that moves beyond building higher flood defences and installing more pumps. Radical thinking is required, some of which may involve abandoning the worst affected settlements.
How pineapple became paper in The Philippines
A speciality paper made from pineapple waste has been launched in the Philippines. Developed with support from Design Center, a Government agency tasked with improving the country’s design ecosystem, pinyapel is made from waste pineapple leaves and suited to secondary packaging.
A beta run of production is due to start with Ideatechs Packaging, who hope it could be used initially in gift bags and paper cup sleeves. Longer term applications could also include envelopes and sleeves.
As well as the benefits to sustainability, there could be economic ones too. Selling the pineapple leaves to paper producers could lift incomes for farmers.
“Deposit-Return” to be reintroduced in Scotland, but will it work?
The UK abandoned its deposit-return schemes thirty years ago. Every bottle has a small tariff, which was refunded when the bottle was returned. Kids used to collect and return them to earn a little extra pocket money.
Now the scheme could be returning to Scotland as new legislation is being put before the devolved government later this year. It’s opened up a debate about practicalities as supermarkets and newsagents will become responsible for paying out small sums and returning used cans and bottles.
Could Salt Lake Tribune’s move to become a co-op save local journalism?
The Salt Lake Tribune could be a model for how the local press survives in a post-internet environment. Plans have been put forward by the current owner to transform it into a community owned, not-for-profit organisation. With declining revenues from traditional sources affecting print journalism the world over, The Tribune hopes it can tap into both community spirit and the various funds and trusts offering to support local journalism.
At least two other US newspapers – The Tampa Bay Times and Philadelphia Inquirer – use a similar model, while The Guardian in the UK has been owned by a trust since 1936.
Wet wipes vanish from health food shop shelves
Health food shop Holland & Barrett is taking wet wipes off its shelves. Described as a “problem product”, the wipes can contain plastics that pollute oceans, while flushing them down the toilet contributes to sewer blockages. The UK Government had pledged to ban the product, although moves by manufacturers to create plastic free, easily dissolvable versions may have averted or at least delayed that move.
Milk cartons join sustainable packaging revolution
Dairy cooperative Arla is changing its packaging to a more sustainable variety. Milk cartons will be made from bio-plastics derived from sugar cane and forestry by-products, while yoghurt pots are to be made from recyclable plastic. 6 European countries will benefit from the move, although the company plans to have recyclable and sustainable packaging in all core markets by 2025.
London tops global smart city rankings for infrastructure, fares less well on social responsibility
The UK’s capital has topped the global rankings for Smart Cities produced by IESE Business School’s Cities in Motion Index. Good transport hubs, international outreach programmes and higher education all won plaudits and propelled the city to the top of the rankings. In social responsibility the city fared less well. Social cohesion and environment both scored badly.
Germany finally uses more renewables than coal
Europe’s largest and dirtiest economy may have crossed an important threshold in 2018. Estimates from Fraunhofer Institute suggest the country used more renewable than coal energy, 40 per cent compared to 38 per cent. Almost 20 per cent of its total power output came from wind.
Germany’s undergoing a major energy transition as it pulls down the shutters on its nuclear and coal fired power stations. This is a solid step on the path to meeting its 2030 Paris Agreement commitments.
German lorries turned into electric trams in autobahn pilot
As we’ve reported, electric commercial vehicles are currently limited to short-range multi-drops. A project in Germany is tackling the question of longer ranges by ditching the battery and converting lorries into trams. Overhead wires power the vehicle’s electric motors, which can run on the usual diesel the rest of the time.
The project’s tech comes from Siemens, who have installed overhead wires and Scania, who retro-fitted a truck for the test. It’ll run until 2022, after which the German Government will decide whether to extend the project.
Hydrogen could power a new generation of Audi cars
Concerns about sourcing precious metals and performance has prompted Audi to reopen the book on its hydrogen powertrain. A new prototype is in development and expected to be revealed later in the year. Using technology cross-licenced from Hyundai, Audi’s not expecting their hydrogen-tech vehicle to hit the showrooms until the second half of the 2020s.
Detroit’s LED streetlights failing after 5 years on the job
Detroit achieved a significant reduction in CO2 emissions by replacing its street lights with LEDs. Nearly a third of its lights were replaced with products from Leotec in 2014 and just five years later there are reports a third of those have dimmed or failed prematurely. Inspections have revealed shorted out LEDs and damaged components.
The city is suing Leotec for the replacement costs, expected to run upwards of $5 million.
US states may already have the answer to New Green Deal’s roadblocks
While the Green New Deal rumbles slowly through the US parliament, cities have been ignoring the political stalemate and getting on with the job of saving the world. Tara Lohan argues there’s much national governments could learn from these states and cities, not just about the practicalities of going greener, but also about the politics and social changes needed.
Image by Ross A Hall.