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The EU is planning to ban single-use plastics

Under the proposal, overwhelmingly backed by the European Parliament, 10 single-use plastic products with readily available alternatives would be banned by 2021. EU states would be obliged to recycle 90 percent of plastic bottles by 2025 and producers to help cover costs of waste management. “We are sending a strong signal to industry,” EU lawmaker Frederique Ries, a Belgian liberal, told Reuters. “There is broad and growing popular support on this issue,” said Ries, who is representing the parliament in negotiations with EU governments. The EU recycles only a quarter of the 25 million tonnes of plastics waste it produces per year China’s decision to stop processing waste coupled with growing alarm over damage to oceans has pushed the continent to end reliance on developing countries to deal with its waste. Regulators hope the new rules will lead to a drop in the price of recycled plastics. The EU’s final rules still need to be approved in talks with member states - some of which have balked at the curbs, worried they will be too difficult to implement for industry. But the deputy head of the EU executive, who is overseeing efforts to cut down on plastic waste, called for action. Orginal Source

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Landmark week of action to celebrate Clean Growth

Working in partnership with business and civil society, the government is introducing the first ever Green GB Week – an annual week designed to highlight the opportunities clean growth offers the UK and raise understanding of how business and the public can contribute to tackling climate change. The UK has led the world to date in cutting emissions while creating wealth. Between 1990 and 2016, the UK reduced its emissions by over 40% while growing the economy by more than two-thirds – the best performance in the G7 on a per person basis. The global move to cleaner economic growth – through low carbon technologies and the more efficient use of resource – is one of the greatest industrial opportunities of our time. This is why we put clean growth at the heart of both our Clean Growth Strategy, and the Industrial Strategy through our new Clean Growth Grand Challenge. We want to maximise the economic and industrial advantages of both the global and our domestic shift to clean growth across the whole of the UK. Launching on 15 October 2018, Green GB Week will showcase the benefits clean growth will bring to all parts of society – from new jobs to cleaner air. We want local communities to embrace this challenge and grow momentum from the ground up. This year the week will focus on celebrating UK leadership on climate change, marking the 10-year anniversary of the Climate Change Act, while highlighting the business opportunity from clean growth and providing a platform for the latest research on the impacts of climate change. Orginal Source

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How plastic-eating bacteria actually work – a chemist explains

The plastic bottles we throw away today will be around for hundreds of years. It’s one of the key reasons why the mounting plastic pollution problem, which is having a deadly effect on marine life, is so serious.. But scientists recently discovered a strain of bacteria that can literally eat the plastic used to make bottles, and have now improved it to make it work faster. The effects are modest – it’s not a complete solution to plastic pollution – but it does show how bacteria could help create more environmentally friendly recycling.. Plastics are complex polymers, meaning they are long, repeating chains of molecules that don’t dissolve in water. The strength of these chains makes plastic very durable and means it takes a very long time to decompose naturally. If they could be broken down into their smaller, soluble chemical units, then these building blocks could be harvested and recycled to form new plastics in a closed-loop system.. In 2016, scientists from Japan tested different bacteria from a bottle recycling plant and found that Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6 could digest the plastic used to make single-use drinks bottles, polyethylene terephthalate (PET). It works by secreting an enzyme (a type of protein that can speed up chemical reactions) known as PETase. This splits certain chemical bonds (esters) in PET, leaving smaller molecules that the bacteria can absorb, using the carbon in them as a food source.. Although other bacterial enzymes were already known to slowly digest PET, the new enzyme had apparently evolved specifically for this job. This suggests it might be faster and more efficient and so have the potential for use in bio-recycling.. As a result, several teams have been trying to understand exactly how PETase works by studying its structure. In the past 12 months, groups from Korea, China and the UK, US and Brazil have all published work showing the structure of the enzyme at high resolution and analysing its mechanisms. Orginal Source

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Walkers Crisps introduces recycling scheme amid outcry over packaging waste

Walkers Crisps make 11 million packets of crisps a day. That makes for a lot of waste plastic. Following a petition in which 330,000 people called for action on packaging, the company has announced it will introduce a recycling scheme It comes after campaigners began posting the packets – a combination of plastic and foil – back to Walkers, causing Royal Mail to issue a plea for people not to send them without envelopes. From December, people will be able to use envelopes to post empty packets directly to a recycling company for free. Walkers has also pledged to make all their packaging 100 per cent recyclable or biodegradable by 2025. Geraint Ashcroft from Pontypridd, who started a petition calling for Walkers to take action, and which amassed more than 330,000 signatures, said: “Today’s announcement by Walkers is really exciting, and I hope other snack companies get on board. “This is a great first step and makes all the work that's gone into the petition worthwhile. But Walkers still have a lot to do to meet their pledge of making their packaging fully recyclable, compostable or biodegradable.” Walkers said its packets are technically recyclable, but until the scheme begins they are not separated or collected for recycling. The company said its partnership with recycling firm TerraCycle was "the UK's first nationwide recycling scheme for crisp packets", and any brand of crisp packets – not just Walkers – would be accepted. Orginal Source

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15 Small changes you should make to help protect the environment

It’s easy to believe one person’s efforts don’t matter, but if we all made some small changes we could make a huge difference. Here are 15 small switches you should make to help protect the environment. 1. Create a compost pile You don’t have to live on a farm or in the country to have a compost pile. Composting means recycling the nutrients from our food waste back into the ecosystem through enriching soil and keeping food out of landfills. You can compost fruit and veg waste, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells and even egg boxes. 2. Go naked at the shops Look for products with minimal or no packaging and buy loose fruit and vegetables instead of those wrapped in plastic. If you do choose packaged products, check the label to see if it is recycled and recyclable. Every item you put in the bin is going to landfill. Reducing the amount we throw away makes a huge impact on the environment. 3. BYOB Bring Your Own Bag. Plastic bags have three times the greenhouse gas impact of reusable bags. 4. Change your light ‘Lighting accounts for 18 per cent of a typical household’s electricity bill. You can cut your lighting bill and energy use by changing which bulbs you use and how you use them.’ says the Energy Saving Trust. It’s said that if every person in the UK replaced just three light bulbs, enough energy would be saved to light the UK’s street lamps. And turn off your lights when not in use to save money. 5. Leave your car at home If you can stay off the road just two days a week, you’ll reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,590 pounds per year and save yourself money 6. Turn off computers at night Turn off computers, TVs and other electrical items overnight instead of leaving on standby to save money and energy. 7. Recycle mobile phones Green Redeem UK says ‘Mobile phones contain enough lead to qualify as hazardous waste, so it’s really important that old handsets or batteries never end up in our normal rubbish bins. ‘If you recycle a mobile phone correctly, all those potentially dangerous materials can be safely extracted and reused.’ To avoid them heading for landfill, you can donate them to charity, trade them in, or use an online phone recycling company. 8. Clean the back of your fridge Dusty coils can increase energy consumption by 30 per cent. So get cleaning! You might even find some lost items and spare change behind there. 9. Get creative Most unwanted materials can be traditionally recycled. But if you have children, that junk can be a whole new set of toys. Old paper can be used to draw on and waste boxes and packaging can become anything. 10. Recycle Most councils collect recyclable waste along with household waste, it is simply a matter of separating your rubbish. If you don’t have recycling collection, find your local tip or recycling centre. It is worth collecting a few bags at a time to make the trip worthwhile. 11. Cut up the plastic rings from packs of bee Those plastic rings that hold your cans together are invisible in water and wildlife can choke on them or trap themselves if they end up in water. 12. Maintain your car Underinflated tyres decrease fuel economy by up to three percent and lead to increased pollution and higher greenhouse gas emissions. 13. Go veggie – at least once a week Meat production is extremely resource-intensive. If you gave it up just once a week, you would save the 840 gallons of fresh water it takes to produce a single serving. 14. Water, water everywhere Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth, shower instead of bathe and don’t leave the water running while washing the pots. Home maintenance is vital too – if you have a leaky loo you might be wasting 200 gallons of water a day. 15. Reuse everything Think twice before throwing anything into a bin – what you are chucking out will end up in landfill. Can it be recycled, can it be reused, can it be upcycled, can it be fixed? Orginal Source

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Government allocate £15 Million of additional funds to tackle food waste

Currently around 43,000 tonnes of surplus food is redistributed from retailers and food manufacturers every year. It is estimated a further 100,000 tonnes of food - equating to 250 million meals a year - is edible and readily available but goes uneaten. Instead, this food is currently sent away for generating energy from waste, anaerobic digestion, or animal feed. The pilot scheme will be developed over the coming months in collaboration with businesses and charities. The scheme will launch in 2019/20. Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: Nobody wants to see good food go to waste. It harms our environment, it’s bad for business – and it’s morally indefensible. Every year, around 100,000 tonnes of readily available and perfectly edible food is never eaten. This has got to change. In the coming months we will work closely with business, charities and volunteers to deliver a new scheme to tackle this problem. The scheme will specifically address surplus food from retail and manufacturing. This is just one part of the problem - food waste in the UK totals 10.2 million tonnes per year, of which 1.8 million tonnes comes from food manufacture, 1 million from the hospitality sector, and 260,000 from retail, with the remainder from households. Further action to cut food waste from all sources is being considered as part of Defra’s Resources and Waste Strategy, which will be published later this year. Defra is commissioning work to improve the evidence base around food waste, including understanding why more surplus food is not being redistributed. This work will inform the design of the scheme, ensuring it drives down food waste in the most effective possible way. Dr David Moon, Head of Business Collaboration at WRAP said: Today’s announcement is a great boost for the many support networks around the country working hard to ensure good food feeds people, and is not wasted. Between 2015 and 2017 surplus food redistributed from retailers, manufacturers and hospitality and food services businesses increased by 50%, with nearly £130 million worth of food saved from waste. Orginal Source