This London bench absorbs as much pollution as 275 trees London has got a new ally in the fight against its air pollution crisis: hedge 2.0. The CityTree is a strange mix of bench and hedge, but is very effective at tackling air pollution. Dresden-based Green City Solutions' creation has been installed in cities including Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam and Oslo. And now there's one on Glasshouse Street, near Piccadilly Circus in London. This four-metre-high vertical garden inhales pollution and exhales fresh air – doing, its creator claims, the work of 275 trees in one per cent of the space. Each holds 1,682 pots of moss which extract particulate matter (PM) – soot, dirt and other pollutants – from the air. Bacteria living on the moss digest PM, and the moss digests the bacteria. Absorbed PM ranges from 0.1 microns wide to ten microns – the smaller particles being the most dangerous, as they can get deep into human lungs and from there enter the bloodstream. Each CityTree costs £17,600, but buyers might be able to recoup this through advertising, as the units include NFC and iBeacon technology. Also built into the solar powered unit is a Wi-Fi beacon, a rainwater-collection unit, as well as a nutrient tank and irrigation system to allow the assembly to water itself. The CityTree also contains sensors that gather data from the plants and its surroundings. The frame is customisable too, with options for graffiti protection and a wide range of woods and varnish colours. The vertical beds themselves can be planted to display anything from logos to QR codes. Orginal Source
Iceland has stepped up its efforts to phase out plastic waste with the launch of a new trial to switch to paper carrier bags or re-usable bags made from recycled plastic. The supermarket giant, which made headlines earlier this year with a pledge to eliminate all plastic packing from its brands by 2023, announced yesterday that it is to trial alternative carrier bags to its current plastic offering. The trial will run for eight weeks across the Merseyside region and will give customers a choice between a paper carrier bag and a version made from post-consumer plastic waste. Both bags will carry a 10p bag levy in an attempt to encourage customers to use reusable bags wherever possible. The company said the introduction of the government's 5p plastic bag levy in 2015 had helped cut the number of plastic bags distributed by 80 per cent, but that meant it was still using three million plastic carrier bags a week. Iceland Managing Director Richard Walker said there was strong customer support for the company's efforts to tackle plastic waste. "We have received widespread support since announcing our intention to eradicate plastic packaging and we know that customers support our move to reduce single use plastics," he said. "We're already taking steps to deliver on our commitment to remove plastics, and of course single use carriers are a significant part of the plastic we have in store, used by our customers every day." He added that the trial would provide the company with "an in-depth insight into how we can remove single use carrier bags, while offering an alternative that is fit for purpose and works for our customers". The move follows the launch of new plastic-free packaging from the company and the unveiling of a new deposit return 'vending machine' designed to encourage people to recycle plastic bottles. However, the switch from plastic to paper bags could spark questions about the carbon footprint of the respective bags and the land use impact of sourcing paper alternatives. In an emailed statement Iceland confirmed the paper bags were made from sustainably certified paper. "The paper bags are made from paper sourced from Forest and Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests - for every tree harvested, four new trees are planted in its place," the company said. "The paper bags can also be recycled by customers at home, in the paper and card recycling bin." It also confirmed it would be undertaking a carbon footprint assessment of both the paper and plastic bags. Orginal Source
The government has signed a £200 million Nuclear Sector Deal to make the UK’s energy mix more diverse and affordable . The deal aims to drive cleaner economic growth, promote new opportunities in the sector and develop the technology and skills needed to maintain the UK’s position as a nuclear energy leader. The industry has vowed to reduce the cost of new nuclear build projects by 30% before 2030 and cut the cost of decommissioning old nuclear sites by 20% by this time. Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said the deal includes a £32 million boost from government and businesses to kick-start a new advanced manufacturing programme, as well as £86 million for strengthening the national fusion technology platform at the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Science Centre in Culham, Oxfordshire. The government also committed to increasing the proportion of women working in the sector from 22% to 40% by 2030 and said it would help smaller companies access higher value contracts and new markets. It will offer around £44 million for research and development funding to support the development of advanced modular reactors and launch a new review to look at ways to accelerate the clean-up of old nuclear sites. Orginal Source
The project, called #LeedsByExample, has been developed by environmental behaviour change charity Hubbub and recycling compliance scheme Ecosurety, which meets recycling obligations on behalf of more than 1,000 companies. On-the-go recycling has proved a sticking point in attempts to improve the UK’s recycling rate, with many busy consumer areas like shopping centres – where food and drink packaging is most often bought and disposed of – lacking the infrastructure to separately collect different items. A 2017 report by plastics recycling charity RECOUP surveyed nearly 100 UK local authorities and found that only 42 per cent provided on-the-go collection bins, meaning a lot of waste that could be recycled ends up sent to landfill or incineration. The problem was noted by packaging company DS Smith back in March, when it announced it had the capability to recycle all of the UK’s coffee cup waste – a staggering 2.5 billion cups – with the company citing insufficient collection infrasdtructure as the chief barrier to fulfilling this capability, calling on the government to invest more in such facilities. Now, #LeedsByExample is seeking to address the issue by introducing a range of different recycling options to consumer hubs around Leeds city centre, in partnership with Leeds City Council. The six-month campaign, beginning in September 2018, will build on previous work by Hubbub to tackle on-the-go recycling – including its Neat Streets litter project, which saw the charity develop tailored litter-busting campaigns in Westminster, Sutton, Manchester and Edinburgh. From the Neat Streets campaign came the Ballot Bin, a quirky communications tool-cum-ashtray designed to reduce smoking waste by asking people to vote with their cigarette butt. In 2017, Hubbub also ran a project to recycle single-use coffee cups in London’s busy Square Mile, which involved dedicated coffee cup bins being placed around the area for collection and processing by Simply Cups, a specialist recycling company. The project has since resulted in more than five million cups being sent for recycling. The Ballot Bin asks smokers to vote with their butts Gavin Ellis, Hubbub’s Director and Co-Founder, told Resource: “We will be building on everything we have learned from previous campaigns such as Neat Streets, Ballot Bins and in particularly the Square Mile Challenge. In many ways what we will trial in Leeds is an extension of the Square Mile Challenge to include all food and drinks packaging, not just coffee cups – Leeds city centre also happens to be a square mile in size.
It includes measures to ensure consumers continue to get the most out of their smart meters – every home and small business should be offered the technology by the end of 2020. The Bill will enable the government to continue to regulate the rollout of smart meters and act on the results of any findings that could improve the experience for consumers and small businesses. It will also ensure consumers are protected in the unlikely event that the company running the national smart meters communications infrastructure – the Smart Data and Communications Company – were to become insolvent. Energy Minister Richard Harrington said: “The rollout of smart meters continues at pace, with almost 7.7 million already operating in Great Britain and nearly 350,000 being installed every month, bringing an end to estimated bills and helping people to save energy and money. “The Bill published today will ensure consumers continue to get the most from their smart meters once installed, during and beyond the rollout.”
Following months of delays, the plan was finally presented to Parliament this morning (12 October) where Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark set out how the UK plans to the “lead the way” on global carbon reductions while driving economic growth. “This Government has put clean growth at the heart of its Industrial Strategy to increase productivity, boost people’s earning power and ensure Britain continues to lead the world in efforts to tackle climate change,” Clark said. “For the first time in a generation, the British government is leading the way on taking decisions on new nuclear, rolling out smart meters and investing in low carbon innovation. The world is moving from being powered by polluting fossil fuels to clean energy. It’s as big a change as the move from the age of steam to the age of oil and Britain is showing the way.” The much-anticipated Clean Growth Strategy sets out how the Government intends to meet the fifth carbon budget, which seeks to limit the UK’s annual emissions to 57% below 1990 levels by the year 2032. The strategy captures 50 new measures to drive economic growth across the core pillars of innovation, business and industrial efficiency, domestic improvements, transport, energy and natural resources. Low-carbon innovation The Government has unveiled how more than £2.5bn will be spent on low-carbon innovation between 2015 and 2021 to boost job growth and foster new technologies in low-carbon businesses and supply chains. This includes existing Government spending of up to £505m from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Energy Innovation Programme. Up to £10m will be provided for low-carbon heat innovations for domestic and commercial building use, while around £10m will be provided for measures that improve the energy efficiency of these buildings. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has been brought back into the fray two years after the Government faced criticism for closing the £1bn competition fund. At the time, critics were concerned the decision could cost the UK an additional £30bn to meet its 2050 carbon targets. Up to £20m will be spent on a CCS demonstration programme. Up to £20m will be funnelled into viability schemes for industries to switch to low-carbon fuels as the UK forges ahead with its coal plant phase out by 2025. A similar investment will be made to support early stage funding of clean technologies. An extra £14m will be added to the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund to boost competitiveness amongst emerging energy technologies. Business and industry efficiency Climate change minister Claire Perry confirmed yesterday that the Clean Growth Strategy would feature decarbonisation roadmaps up to 2050 for seven carbon-intensive industries, covering food and drink, paper & pulp, chemicals, ceramics, glass, cement and farming. The Strategy also includes a “package of measures” to support business to improve energy productivity by at least 20% by 2030. This will lead to the establishment of an Industrial Energy Efficiency scheme to help large companies cut energy use and bills. Just last week, research claimed that CCS could boost the UK economy by more than £160bn if deployed on the east coast of the country, and it seems the Strategy will aim to capture some of this economic value for businesses. The Strategy includes a goal to collaborate with global partners to invest up to £100m in CCS innovations across industrial sectors. Low-carbon transport The Government has already committed to the phase-out of new car sales for petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, and this will be backed by a £1bn support scheme for ultra-low emissions vehicles – including discounts on upfront costs on the purchase of an electric vehicle (EV). More than £840m of public funds will be funnelled towards low-carbon transport innovation to accelerate new fuel uses, while the Strategy claims that Government will work with industry to develop an Automotive Sector Deal to accelerate the uptake of zero-emission vehicles. The UK has faced numerous warnings that it will miss crucial 2020 renewable heat and transport targets and significantly damage its global reputation as a climate leader unless "major policy improvements" are rapidly enforced. Transport Minister Jesse Norman said: “The Clean Growth Strategy reinforces our clear commitment to reduce emissions across the UK and to end the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040. “We are a world leader in ultra-low emission technology, spending £1 billion to support the uptake of these cleaner vehicles and the creation of one of the best charging networks in the world. Advances in low carbon transport technology can significantly boost economic growth and air quality, and we will continue to work with companies to maximise these benefits for all.” An Energy and Climate Change Select Committee report from September revealed that the UK is less than half way to meeting its heat targets, while the share of renewables in transport fuel has flatlined at 4.75%. While the majority of heat commitments are geared towards household efficiencies, the Clean Growth Strategy pledges to “develop one of the best electric vehicle charging networks in the world”, the help decarbonise the transport sector. Improving household efficiency Around £3.6bn of investment has been set aside to upgrade around 500,000 homes through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), and the Government has extended support on domestic energy-efficiency improvements from 2022 to 2028. A long-term trajectory to improve energy performance standards – including upgrading private rented homes to Energy Performance Certificate Band C – will also be developed, but only where “cost effective and affordable”. All fuel-poor homes will be upgraded to Energy Performance Certificate Band C by 2030, and an aspiration is in place for as many homes as possible to reach this level on energy performance. Again, this will only be targeted where “practical, cost effective and affordable”. This follows the announcement earlier this week that Ofgem would introduce a market-wide price cap for all customers on standard variable tariffs (SVTs), following the introduction of legislation, as promised by prime minister Theresa May. Clean, affordable energy Further support for offshore wind comes a day after Energy Minister Richard Harrington confirmed that £557m will be made available for less established technologies for future Contract for Difference (CfD) auctions. This comes after last month’s auction results saw offshore wind achieve a record low-strike price of £57.50 per MWh, half the cost of two years ago. As revealed by the climate change minister, the Government will develop an “ambitious” Sector Deal for offshore wind, which could add an extra 10GW of new capacity by the 2020s. While offshore wind, energy-from-waste, marine and biomass will all receive support in the next auction in 2019, but established technologies onshore wind and solar look set to miss out again. Ministers would refer to last month's launch of a subsidy-free solar farm at Clayhill as proof that the technology can operate successfully without Government intervention. The Government's decision to continue support for nuclear will be unpopular among green campaigners who express concern about the technology's environmental impact and cost-effectiveness. The Clean Growth Strategy outlines plans to “progress discussions with developers” to secure competitive prices for any nuclear projects in the future. Developers of proposed reactors in Wales and Cumbria will be under pressure to keep costs lower than Hinkley Point C, which is already on course to breach its budget by £1.5bn. Agriculture and natural resources Although we are still waiting on Defra’s 25-year Environment plan, the Clean Growth Strategy does provide areas of cross over. The Strategy notes that a new system of agricultural support and business actions on climate change will be established as the UK leaves the European Union (EU). The Strategy reveals a commitment to create a new network of forests in England, as part of a wider commitment to plan 11 million trees and increase the amount of indigenous timber used in UK construction. A new Resources and Waste Strategy will be launched, although no timeframe has been provided, to make the UK a “world leader” in competitiveness, resource productivity and efficiency across all sectors. The Government will also work towards an ambition for zero avoidable waste by 2050 to minimise negative environmental and carbon impacts. Government will also work with businesses and civil society to launch a “Green Great Britain” week to promote clean growth. Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “We are determined to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it, and achieving clean growth is an integral part of our work to deliver a Green Brexit. “Through our ambitious plans to tackle waste, better manage our precious natural resources and create a more environmentally-focused agricultural system, this government is taking the lead in creating a cleaner, greener Britain.” Gove believes that Brexit has given the UK a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to become global leaders on agricultural management, as part of a vow to deliver a "green" Brexit. Matt Mace & George Ogleby