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Survey finds shift towards environmentally focused resolutions in 2021

When asked to pinpoint their priorities for the new year, respondents ranked ‘helping the planet and taking action towards living a more sustainable lifestyle’ second (40%) behind exercising more (48%). More than half of Brazilian respondents (51%) intend to prioritise eco-conscious activity. Additionally, 81% of overall respondents want to be more sustainable in 2021, ranging from 94% of Indonesians to 65% in Germany. Comparing those who’ve made resolutions previously against those who intend to make one this year, the data also showed a 5% rise in the respondents who say they will make a new year’s resolution relating to the environment for 2021 (32% overall) compared to previous years (27%). The findings are part of Garnier’s One Green Step Report which looks at the scale of the shift towards environmentally focused resolutions in 2021 and suggests that 2020 was a significant wakeup call for many for the need to take further green steps to protect our planet. Looking more closely at specific aspects of sustainability respondents intend to focus on in 2021, reducing plastic consumption was ranked first overall (69%) in the majority of countries. Recycling more generally is a priority for nearly two-thirds overall (65%), with those in Brazil (77%) and India (72%) showing the greatest planned commitment. Despite people’s best intentions, a much lower proportion (16%) will abstain from air travel or stop driving (29%). Meanwhile, UAE respondents are the most likely to stop buying fast fashion (38%). A green resolution Encouragingly, more than three-quarters overall believe keeping a green resolution will be easier now than the past (78%) with those in India (91%) and UAE (90%) the most optimistic. Living through Covid-19 has made almost 4 in 10 respondents (who also said it will now be easier to stick to a resolution) re-evaluate their priorities (40%) prompting them to opt for greener lifestyles. Just over a third of this group of respondents (36%) say keeping a green resolution will be easier now they are more knowledgeable about the environment. Garnier’s Global Brand President, Adrien Koskas, comments, ‘This report proves that 2020 was a wakeup call to protect our planet. The research looks at 8 countries, across 4 continents and shows that 2020 has acted as a stark reminder that we all need to take steps towards a greener planet. 'At Garnier we are trying to take green steps to do just that – in 2020 we launched our end-to-end approach to sustainability – Green Beauty – which came with a wave of sustainable innovations, like our first ever solid shampoo bar with zero plastic waste, reusable eco-pads for removing makeup, and this year 100% recycled and recyclable bottles in our Fructis haircare range. ‘Also, we hope to inform our consumers by publishing environmental impact scores of all our haircare products, launched in France and launching in the UK, US and Germany this year. The aim is to empower our consumers to take one green step by making a more sustainable choice.’ A total of 40% of those who said the last year made them think differently about their behaviours say the pandemic has made them feel more accountable for their actions (57% in Brazil, 22% in Indonesia). A similar proportion (41%) state 2020 was a ‘wake-up call’ to protect the environment; this was felt most in Brazil (56%). Just over a third have appreciated their environment and nature more than before (36%), with Indonesians the most aware (43%). Orginal Source

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Funding allocated to six projects aiming to develop world's first net-zero industrial cluster

UKRI has announced this week that industrial clusters in South Wales, the West Midland, Tees Valley, the North West, Humber region and Scotland will all receive new government funding to accelerate plans to create the first net-zero industrial cluster. Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The UK is leading the world’s green industrial revolution, with ambitious targets to decarbonise our economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. As we continue to level up the UK economy and build back greener, we must ensure every sector is reducing carbon emissions to help us achieve our commitment to net zero emissions by 2050. This funding will help key industrial areas meet the challenge of contributing to our cleaner future while maintaining their productive and competitive strengths.” One of the major projects to receive financial backing is Net Zero North West – the coalition of businesses backing the project –which officially launched in October. Participants include CF Fertilisers, Encirc, Essar Oil UK, INOVYN, Peel L&P Environmental, Siemens, Storengy and Tata Chemicals Europe. The North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) is also supporting, bringing representatives from the likes of BASF, Unilever and IBM on board. Funding will be used to develop a “cluster plan” to prepare the North West and North East Wales to remove more than 40 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year and creating thousands of new jobs. The consortium of organisations will now progress to the second phase of the project, which will be delivered over a two-year period, to outline technology recommendations that would enable the cluster to reach net-zero by 2040. Net Zero North West’s chairman Carl Ennis said: “Across renewables, hydrogen, CCUS, nuclear and smart grids, our region is in a truly unique position to become a world-leader in clean growth. Our cluster is already delivering on the ground and paving the way towards a net-zero future, which will protect the manufacturing jobs that have made this region thrive and create a sustainable pipeline of new high-value green jobs for our region. “With the Prime Minister recently laying out his ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, this new roadmap funding is a timely vote of confidence in our ability to deliver industrial decarbonisation in the North West and make a significant and rapid contribution to the UK’s net zero-emission targets.” Net Zero North West said it has undertaken internal research outlining how the cluster and related projects could mitigate and sequester a total of 10 million tonnes of CO2e annually from 2030. This is more than is emitted each year by all homes in the region. It would also support 33,000 jobs, the majority of which would be in the supply chain, the coalition believes. Elsewhere, BP, Eni, Equinor, Shell and Total have all signed up to spearhead the development of the Net-Zero Teesside project, which focuses heavily on the use of carbon capture, utilisation and storage technology (CCUS). Drax, Equinor and National Grid have also published a roadmap fleshing out their plans to create the world's first zero-carbon industrial hub in the Humber region by 2040. The roadmap sets out proposals to build a demonstration hydrogen production facility in the region by 2025 and install carbon capture equipment on one of the four biomass units at Drax’s power station in Selby two years later. The funding is being administered by UKRI as part of the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge, which forms part of the £4.7bn Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, also managed by UKRI. Orginal Source

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New-sprung: the project turning PPE offcuts into Covid patient mattresses

At the height of the pandemic in the Indian state of Kerala, fashion designer Lakshmi Menon, 46, heard that every new Covid care centre had to have 50 beds. Mattresses were in short supply. Every time a patient was discharged, the mattress had to be incinerated. “I thought: that’s a lot of mattresses and a lot of burning,” says Menon. Menon’s solution was to collect the mountains of plastic pieces from factories that make PPE – all the little bits left over after cutting. Women then braid the bits into rope-like plaits 6ft long. The braids are laid out in a zigzag and the ends tied together. The result is a light, soft, washable, hygienic mattress for just 300 rupees (£3) – half the price of a normal one. The women of Arayankav near Kochi, where Menon lives on a rubber plantation, get jobs, the environment is protected and Covid clinics get mattresses – “shayya” in Sanskrit. The idea of using waste scraps came to her when she was driving to Kochi in February and saw children sleeping on the road. A few days later, she visited a friend who runs a fashion house and saw heaps of waste fabric of different sizes. “That’s when I thought I could use braiding to make mattresses for the homeless. Braiding allows you to use every single bit of fabric of different sizes. Even the tiniest bit can be incorporated and everyone knows how to tie a plait,” she says. In March, she made 20 mattresses and handed them out to homeless families. Then lockdown happened. Her friends in design and fashion lost business overnight. Workers were laid off and things looked grim. Menon forgot about the fabric mattresses, until she went to a friend’s tailoring unit in July and saw that he had started making PPE. In the corner lay a mountain of plastic pieces. Menon’s eyes gleamed. “I picked them up and found they were cleaner, softer and more dust-free than fabric scraps. It was the best material I could have wished for,” she says. Her friend was delighted when Menon took the scrap pieces. He had been struggling with how to dispose of them because burning was out of the question. At the same time Kerala, overwhelmed by the pandemic, ordered the setting up of 50-bed Covid centres across the state and village councils scrambled to find enough mattresses. Apart from the Covid centres that have bought them, Menon is working with NGOs to provide shayyas to homeless shelters and rough sleepers on the principle that “everyone deserves a good night’s sleep”. India’s 1.7 million homeless people normally sleep on the ground, usually on a thin mat. Students in India who are part of Enactus, the international not-for-profit organisation set up by accountancy firm KPMG, are working on making the mattress widely available. “We also feel that yoga centres might be interested in buying them as they are soft and light and easily rolled up,” says Ishartek Pabla, operations head of Enactus at Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies. Menon is unlikely to meet a shortage of raw material. India has become the world’s second-largest PPE manufacturer, with more than 1,000 manufacturers producing 4.5m pieces a day, the country’s textile ministry announced this week. Menon’s shayya has been taken up by UN staff who will include it in a list of Covid innovative ideas that can be easily replicated. Several Indian corporations have also contacted her. “These big companies have to fulfil their corporate social responsibility objectives and the mattress provides a good way of proving income for rural women in a sustainable way with no need for any equipment. Nothing really. Just a bit of space,” says Menon. Orginal Source

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Cautious waste sector welcome for Brexit trade deal

Formal approval of the post-Brexit trade deal from the European Parliament and the European Council as well as the UK Parliament is still awaited, but there are strong expectations that approval will happen. The Environmental Services Association said that a Brexit deal which enables the free flow of materials from 1 January “has to be a good thing”. The Recycling Association echoed the importance that it brings to the free flow of materials and also highlighted remaining challenges as well as costs issues around VAT. Free flow Jacob Hayler, executive director of the Environmental Services Association, said: “We are yet to see the details, any deal that minimises disruption and enables the free flow of materials out of the country has to be a good thing.” Reflecting on the past year, Mr Hayler added: “The Brexit process has been an absolute saga and 2020 has been horrendously afflicted by Covid, but hopefully we can all now look forward to a brighter 2021.” Costs Simon Ellin, chief executive of the Recycling Association, which represents a range of recycling businesses, many of which are in the recovered paper sector, said: “Given the current environment we face of Covid, Brexit on the first of January and then you add to the current situation the haulage difficulties and the lack of availability of containers, any certainty the industry can get to help materials keep moving without a significant increase in costs has to be broadly welcomed.” Mr Ellin continued: “The devil really is in the detail as our understanding is that businesses are still going to have to go through customs clearance which will lead to some delays and an added cost. And, we still believe that we have got the issue of how and where you pay VAT.” Orginal Source

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Phil Conran awarded OBE in New Year Honours

Mr Conran’s award, in the New Year Honours list 2021 published on 30 December 2020, is for his “services to recycling and the environment”. The announcement brought a warm response from other members of the Advisory Committee (ACP), who spoke of Mr Conran’s ‘hard work’ and ‘breadth of understanding’. He stepped down from the chair position last month when his term of office ended. With many years of involvement in the packaging waste sector, he was announced by Defra as chair of the ACP in December 2014 and his term of office ended last month. He worked for Biffa until 2008 and developed the Biffpack compliance scheme and is now a consultant with 360 Environmental. ‘Delighted’ Commenting on his OBE, Mr Conran said: “I am absolutely delighted both for me and ACP because it gives them recognition too. “This is also recognition for the waste sector and while I get the glory, a lot of people have been contributing to the work of the committee. I would like to thank all my colleagues on the committee for all their work, they have done a huge amount. I will miss it and the relationship with the other members, some good friends, and being involved in how the UK system develops.” In terms of his role in chairing the committee, he said: “I have very much tried to keep the existing system going and at the same time been preparing for the new system as well as to help with setting the basis for how it will work.” During his term of office, Mr Conran said that there had been many developments. “Three years ago we had the Circular Economy package from the EU and the fundamental change that was going to have. In that time there has also been a lot of complications: the Chinese market closing and its domino effect, the problem of PRNs shooting up in value, enforcement issues, and trying to make sure the existing system is fit for purpose as we move across to the new.” On the ACP’s role, he said that he was a “bit frustrated by a lack of political recognition” and on the PRN system, he said that while it did meet the aims of the original packaging regulations, for the new long-term strategic objectives and sustainability aims, “we will be helped by the changes which will take the market volatility out of the system”. Mr Conran added: “I couldn’t have done the job without the support of 360 and my colleague Vicki Cooper who was extremely patient.” Welcomed News of the OBE was today welcomed by ACP members. Mike Baxter, the ACP’s plastics industry representative and global external affairs director of Berry BPI, said: “He’s been the hardest working chair of the ACP that anyone can recall and his contribution to the UK packaging sector is unrivalled. I am absolutely delighted that all of Phil’s hard work has been recognised – it couldn’t go to a more perfect gentleman.” Orginal Source

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Compostable bags 'most cost-effective option' for food waste collection

Improving the costs of food waste collection: enhancing economic and environmental outcomes by choosing the right caddy liner is a detailed cost analysis of the implications of different food waste caddy liners – including PE bags, compostable plastic bags, paper bags and no bags – to determine the best option for the impending food waste collection system. Funded by the Bio-Based and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA) and its members Novamont, Sphere Group, Compostable Bag Company, Cromwell Polymers and Biome Biotechnologies, the research comes as local authorities in England have been mandated to offer separate domestic and business food waste collections from 2023. As well as the cost for taxpayers, a number of other metrics were used to determine the best caddy liner option for recycling food waste. These consider whether the liners encourage the collection of high volumes and quality of food waste, whether they minimise risks for the public, whether they minimise greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and whether they increase circularity. Based on the assumption that current policy in the UK favours treating food waste using anaerobic digestion (AD), the research concludes that the most promising option for collection using liners is the use of compostable bags sent to AD, with the liners then separated for onward processing at an in-vessel composting facility (IVC). Sancroft concluded that this was the overall logical choice, as it is based on current technology and standards and costs are almost equivalent to polyethylene (PE) bags – which are currently used. Though PE bags (sent to an AD facility, then separated and sent to an Energy-from-Waste plant) are used in the current system of food waste collection across the UK, Sancroft found these to be the ‘significantly less circular’ option, as it ‘reduces the nutrient value of digestate, increases the gas scrubbing burdens on treatment steps that control emissions to air from Energy-from-Waste (EfW) facilities and ignores the risk to soils from plastic contamination’. The uses of paper bags and no bags were concluded by Sancroft to be the significantly more expensive and less functional choices, given the degradability of paper and likely lower yields of food waste from both options.. Despite this, in its ranking of choices according to the most effective balance of reasonable costs, minimisation of plastic contaminants in the biodegradable waste stream and maximisation of total food waste collected and processed, the consultancy prioritised compostable bags, followed by paper bags, then PE and no bags. Commenting on the research the BBIA states: “The evidence shows that the most cost-effective option that delivers the biggest benefits for the nation is the use of compostable bags as a liner, as [these achieve] the most effective balance of reasonable costs, minimisation of plastic contaminants in the biodegradable waste stream and maximisation of total food waste collected and processed. “Based on that logic, the priority is first compostable bags, then paper bags, then lastly no bags and PE bags, since both have significant downsides whether in plastics contamination or poor yields and high GHG emissions.” With the UK Government pledging to reduce food waste by 20 per cent by 2025 as part of its Environment Bill, plans to mandate separate food waste collections for households and businesses in English local authorities were confirmed in this year’s Spending Review. The BBIA-funded research is intended as a guide for policymakers to evaluate the most economically and environmentally beneficial caddy liner option in preparation for the England-wide system to be rolled out by 2023. Orginal Source