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Next Stage of £83M Smart Grid Enablers Project Begins

This next phase will see investment of £15 million in the next generation of substation controller to make Smart Substations more of a reality. This element of the Smart Grid Enablers programme will begin in August 2018 and is scheduled to complete in 2023. Northern Powergrid’s £83 million Smart Grid Enablers programme, is preparing its regional economy for rapid growth of electric vehicles, domestic heat pumps and renewable power. It is the UK’s most comprehensive network upgrade programme, creating the backbone of a smart grid, supporting the North’s ambitions to put low-carbon technology at the centre of its economy, and enabling solutions that could save up to £500 million by 2031. Mark Nicholson, Head of Smart Grid Implementation at Northern Powergrid, says: “This is a significant and technically challenging operation drawing on many of our highly specialist technical functions across the business – it has been an impressive team effort between Northern Powergrid and ZIV Automation UK Ltd to get us to this stage. The advantage at the end of this work will be infrastructure that will enable us to operate our network in a more flexible way to deliver more value for our customers through smarter, more efficient and cost-effective services.” The Smart Substations project will see Northern Powergrid work with ZIV Automation UK Ltd to replace the substation Remote Terminal Unit (RTU) equipment and establish a modern platform for the implementation of next generation smart grid solutions and applications. The RTU acts as an interface to the electrical plant within a substation, marshalling alarms, plant status and analogue data (such as voltage, current and power information) and communicating with control engineers via the Network Management System. The RTU directs the digital control commands from the control engineer to operate equipment such as circuit breakers and tap changers within the substation, while also providing the platform for more advanced control schemes within the substation. Orginal Source

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In the world of quick coffee, Starbucks and McDonald’s are as fierce as competitors come.

But when it comes to the cup that coffee comes in, they’re now on the same team. McDonald’s and Starbucks are joining forces to build a fully recyclable, compostable cup of the future within the next three years–one that may include not just the cup itself, but a lid and straw to go along with it. The news comes on the heels of a food industry charge to reduce plastic in packaging, and straws in particular, by Chipotle, Subway, and Burger King, too. Starbucks itself just announced a new lid to replace straws in many drinks as part of a 2020 initiative to ban straws altogether. Together, McDonald’s and Starbucks distribute a combined 4% of the world’s 600 billion cups annually, and represent two of the top three most popular food chains worldwide. Each company’s cups are technically recyclable, but, for all sorts of practical matters related to recycling infrastructure, they rarely are. McDonald’s and Starbucks plan to leverage their combined scale to change the way all single-use cups are made and disposed of. It’s a plan of unprecedented scale in the fast-food industry to improve its ecological footprint. “We’ve been at this for a while [alone], but we were getting tired of incrementality,” says Colleen Chapman, vice president of Starbucks’s global social impact overseeing sustainability. The initiative is called the NextGen Cup Challenge, and it invites entrepreneurs, large and small, to develop materials and designs that can replace today’s cups. The challenge will provide grants to good ideas, and help startups work together to combine them into market-ready solutions. It was launched by Starbucks earlier this year with the earth-friendly innovation and investment firm Closed Loop Partners. Now, McDonald’s is joining the initiative. UNLIKELY ALLIES For all the global good at stake, it may seem strange that two mega competitors are teaming up to co-develop and co-fund a better cup, rather than keeping that sort of innovation proprietary. McDonald’s says that most chains are making cups out of the same fibers and plastics already. Packaging may provide a competitive advantage, but the materials within the packaging do not. And McDonald’s even insists that the potential financial savings won’t be that significant in the best of circumstances, because the materials aren’t being optimised for cost, but for impact. “We’re looking at this as a pre-competitive opportunity. Before we would even compete in the normal way we traditionally would compete, this is kind of a step further back in the chain, saying, ‘how can we work together to solve a problem that’s an issue for society, for the environment,” says Marion Gross, the McDonald’s chief supply chain officer for the United States. “There are certain things we’d say that we’re not competitors on. The easiest example would be food safety. In food safety, there’s no competitive advantage. We all have to come with solutions and make sure we’re watching out for the public’s interest. This is something that we see as kind of similar. It’s a societal issue, and there’s a way that we can come together, not as competitors, but as problem solvers. We can use our collective scale to make a difference.” Orginal Source

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Cups and cartons HWRC pilot launches in Cornwall

Residents are being urged to take their empty food and drink cartons and paper cups to the new bring banks In Cornwall an estimated 450 tonnes of beverage cartons are put out for waste collection each year. They are currently disposed of in the residual bin and sent to energy from waste, the council explained Bring banks The bring banks are being supplied by trade group The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE UK), which represents some of the leading carton manufacturers, Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG Combibloc. The service is a two-year pilot being funded by ACE UK. All cartons and paper cups collected at the recycling banks will be taken to ACE UK’s specialist facility near Halifax. The council advises residents to “wash and squash” cartons and replace the caps before placing in the bring banks – and only paper coffee-type cups should be deposited in the banks. HWRCs Cornwall’s HWRCs handle more than 80,000 tonnes of waste each year, of which more than half is sent for recycling, explained Cornwall council portfolio holder for environment and public protection Sue James. “People have been asking about recycling food and beverage cartons for some time, so I’m pleased ACE UK are working with us to provide this service at seven of our HWRCs,” she said. “Having bring banks based at our HWRCs will allow people to bring their cartons with them when making a trip to their local centre. “We know from surveys that residents want to be able to recycle more. While we can’t include this as part of our current kerbside collections we are asking the bidders for the 2020 kerbside collection contract to consider collecting additional materials, such as these cartons.” Orginal Source

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Northern Powergrid rolls towards clean transport future with EV investment

Patrick Erwin, Policy and Markets Director with a Nissan Leaf. Image: Northern Powergrid Northern Powergrid is adding new electric vehicles (EVs) to its fleet and deploying charging infrastructure at its offices around the country. In a bid to encourage the decarbonisation of transport across the UK, the electrical distribution company is investing in 16 new vehicle-to-grid charging points and buying five Nissan Leaf EVs for its staff to use. The aim is to encourage employee transport to go electric well ahead of the national 2040 ban on new diesel and petrol car sales and test how the low carbon cars fit into the organisation’s business model. It said it will observe how its employees interact with the EVs and study the resulting impact on the network to see how the technology could be more widely adopted. Northern Powergrid also plans to send out surveys to workers using the equipment to ensure it has the right infrastructure to effectively break down barriers to EV adoption across the workforce. Orginal Source

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AccorHotels food waste drive sees 26 UK hotels gain onsite veg gardens

AccorHotels has now introduced urban vegetable gardens at 26 of its hotels across the UK where guests can enjoy food prepared using ingredients grown on the premises, the company has revealed. As part of its investment in sustainable food systems and reducing food waste across its worldwide chain of hotels, the company has set out a target in its Planet 21 strategy of creating 1,000 urban vegetable gardens by 2020 as well as cutting food waste in its restaurants by 30 per cent by 2020. Revealing progress so far, AccorHotels yesterday said it has introduced over 600 urban vegetable gardens worldwide, including 26 in the UK, which supply fresh vegetables and salad for use in restaurant menus. These include the urban veg garden at its Novotel London Waterloo hotel, which last year produced enough pesticide-free salad to supply the restaurant's green salad bar for 28 days, as well as growing enough basil to keep the kitchen stocked over the summer months, the firm said. Orginal Source

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Tackling food waste: Lidl launches cut price veg boxes for £1.50

Low-cost supermarket Lidl has launched a trial programme to cut food waste, selling boxes of imperfect fruit and veg to customers in store for just £1.50. The 'Too Good to Waste' boxes are filled with around 5kg of mixed fruit and vegetables "that are no longer considered at their perfect best" but are still good to eat, Lidl said. The company added it hoped that as well as saving customers money, the selection boxes will also encourage shoppers to purchase food that would otherwise be left on the shelf for cosmetic reasons. The trial, which launched last week, is taking places across 122 Lidl stores across the UK, and forms part of the supermarket's pledge to cut food waste by 25 per cent in store by 2020, and 50 per cent by 2030. Boxes will be on sale every morning for the first two hours of trading, with any unsold items after that donated to local causes. Orginal Source