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Here are my last thoughts for Zero Waste Week

Here are my last thoughts for Zero Waste Week, this time focussing on energy savings that you can look at.

Measure it!

  • Check your energy meters regularly and look for unusual patterns of energy use.
  • Checking energy use overnight or at weekends when a building is supposed to be empty tells you how big your base load is. Check to see what actually runs 24/7.
  • If you don’t know how much energy your equipment uses, how will you know how much energy it saves if you turn it off / wastes if you leave it on?

Turn it off!

  • It is possible to set your computers, printers and other digital devices to go into ‘sleep’ mode or shut down if they are not in use. Restarting might not take as long as you think.
  • Set all your IT equipment to shut down 30 minutes after the working day ends so that nothing can be left on overnight.
  • Turning it off at the plug (or physically unplugging it) is better than on the device because the switches on some devices are after the transformer.

Lighting

  • Advances with LED technology mean that it might be cost effective to replace lighting installed as recently as 5 years ago.
  • Modern LED lighting can be connected to light and motion detectors so that your lights can fade when the sun comes out / become brighter if it is cloudy and also check to see if there anyone there.
  • Check that the lights are off when you leave at night. If you can remember to pick up your phone or to lock a door, you can learn to turn off the lights too.

If you need a hand, give us a shout! Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Increase in carton recycling boosted by new facility in West Yorkshire

It is now ten years since the ‘Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment’ (ACE) UK launched its first beverage carton recycling initiative. Ten years later and they have reported that the number of local authorities collecting cartons for recycling from the kerbside has hit 66% compared to only 57% in 2013/14. It is not clear what proportion of cartons are actually recycled

Many of the cartons collected are recycled in West Yorkshire by Sonoco Alcore who opened their carton recycling facility in 2013 with a capacity to process 25,000t of cartons, that’s around 40% of the paper based food and drinks cartons manufactured in the UK.

Cartons

Zero Waste Shop

And at the other end of the scale, we have the Zero Waste Shop in Totnes. Nicola and Richard became disillusioned with City Life in an apartment with no recycling facilities. They started to wage a war on packaging and to cut out a few steps, they now run an organic wholefood shop in Totnes where everything sold is sold without packaging.

Zero Waste Shopping

So how do you run a shop with no packaging? – Its easy. You bring your own containers, (1) weigh the container, (2) fill the container with the product of your choice, (3) re-weigh the container, (4) label your purchase, (5) pay!. And no waste packaging.

Any container

Conveniently, they wrote a short article with 31 suggestions to reduce plastic waste. It felt a little awkward the first time I turned up to order take away food with my own containers, but as soon as the café worked out that he was not paying for a throw away take-away box, he was on board and happy to join in!

Click here to read the list of suggestions.

Waging war on plastic bottles

Continuing our Zero Waste Week campaign, the Scottish government is proposing to introduce a deposit scheme for bottles and cans. We think this is a great idea but not very practical and without financial merit as we stand today.

Lets start with the problem:

  • In the UK a typical household uses around 480 plastic bottles a year but only recycles just over half of them. Greenpeace claim that most soft drinks manufacturers sell in single use bottles using over 2 million tonnes of plastic and on a global scale, only 6.6% are recycled.
  • Some of those bottles will have travelled a considerable distance for you to drink your favourite brand, so you might think twice before asking for a French or Italian brand.
  • AG Barr, makers of IrnBru shut down their 30p deposit for glass bottles in August 2015 after more than 100 years of operation, showing that it is not worth the effort in simple financial terms.
  • “Aha, but…” I can hear you saying. There are savings of around £5million to be made in not having to pick up the litter. AG Barr estimate the cost of collections to be around £150m per year, dwarfing the £5m savings, not to mention the scope for English containers to be shipped in bulk to Scotland to be recycled. A lorry load of crushed cans would be worth £32,000.

There are more arguments on both sides but lets look at other solutions. In April, scientists announced an ‘edible’ water bottle made from seaweed. Its not on the market yet but makers claim that they can create single use ‘orbs’ that can hold up to one litre of water.

We think that reusable bottles is the way to go and last week we spotted these memobottles might just be the thing we need as they are slimline and can easily fit into most bags. You can buy them on kickstarter for over £20, or shop around a little and get one for less than a five, or if you are a bit more careful with your money, just get a bottle of water from Lidl for 20p and reuse it for six months.

The really cool thing about reusable bottles is that you can reuse them over and over. Did you know that all licensed premises are obliged to provide drinking water free of charge to their customers, so anywhere that sells alcohol could be a top-up stop to refill your water bottle.

Used drinks containers don’t have to be recycled. They can be reused as we can see here where refugees have filled bottles with sand to build themselves shelters.

Recycled bottle shelter

£10m invested in North Yorkshire to improve recycling and reduce waste going to Landfill.

Yorwaste have invested something like £10 million this year to increase their capacity. Most recently, they have opened a £3million waste transfer station to handle 75,000t of waste per year (about 300t per day) to service households across York and North Yorkshire. The Harewood Whin site will sort and bulk up waste before sending it to the Allerton Waste Recovery Park to generate energy from the residual waste. The Allerton Waste Recovery Park will generate enough energy to power 40,000 homes.

Packaging Regulations changes expected by the end of 2017

We are awaiting amendments to both GB & NI regulations to bring them into line with announcements made in the Spring Budget in April. The changes are expected to realign recycling targets up to 2020.

Some of the targets might stretch capacities in the UK and there are external factors, particularly in China, that make us anxious about PRN prices for metals, plastic and wood for both short term and longer term, but we don’t want to cry wolf in case we are wrong. If you need to budget for 2018, please let us know and we can have a chat about whether this uncertainty could affect your business.

Please click here for our summary

Pennine-Pack Win Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice.

Pennine-Pack Ltd, operators of three packaging compliance schemes and the environmental accreditation scheme ‘Investors in the Environment’ and environmental consultancy TheGBN.co.uk , have won a Green Apple for Environmental Best Practice 2017.

In 2012, Pennine-Pack were looking at their carbon footprint and realized that although their scope 1 & 2 emissions were relatively modest, about 5t CO2e, one of our scope 3 emissions associated with the recycling certificates for waste shipped to China was three orders of magnitude worse, about 5,000t.

To reduce this relatively large impact, we resolved to:

  1. Increase the proportion of British recycling that we supported
  2. Promote British recycling with our customers.

In simple terms, when we bought recycling certificates from businesses in China the carbon footprint of the material being recycled was increased by about 300kg CO2e of emissions per tonne of waste recycled because it is shipped an extra 18,000km to China, compared to recycling within the UK.

We decided to see if this commitment would give us a competitive edge, promote British recyclers, reduce the impact of our operations and encourage our customers to think about their environmental impact in a more holistic manner.

Since 2010, we have increased our use of British recyclers from 35.2% to 51.7% of certificates purchased, which sounded less than impressive until we realized that in real numbers, we were buying almost three times as many British certificates as we had been six years earlier.

We developed Ethical Compliance to promote British recycling and highlight the benefits mentioned above. In 2017, the new brand that we developed as supporting British recyclers now represents about 25% of our turnover.

In 2016, We were runners-up in the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards behind SAB Miller (multinational brewer) and ahead of IKEA (Swedish furniture company).

Commenting on the award, Director John Mooney said, “It is great for a small company like ours to be judged against all comers and be recognized. Small businesses need to be responsive to the changing world and that’s what we are doing! We look forward to going to the Houses of Parliament in London to collect the award in November.”

European Court confirms that cores are packaging

Cores are defined as packaging. The European Court has confirmed this regulation after two suits were brought by French companies

The Court of Justice of the European Union has clarified the definition of packaging in two cases referred by French courts. In its judgement, the General Court (previously the Court of First Instance) rules that "roll cores in the form of rolls, tubes and cylinders around which flexible material is wound and sold to consumers" constitute packaging within the meaning of the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. The ECJ issued this verdict in response to questions that the Paris Commercial Court and the French Council of State referred for preliminary rulings (case references C-313/15 and C-530/15).

The two French cases are related to Directive 2013/2/EU, which was adopted to clarify the scope of the Packaging Directive (94/62/EC) by adding new examples of packaging and non-packaging materials to its Annex I. The new entries include "rolls, tubes and cylinders around which flexible material such as plastic film and paper is wound" as an example of packaging. Under the Directive, these cores are only to be considered non-packaging if they are "intended as parts of production machinery and not used to present a product as a sales unit".

http://www.euwid-paper.com/news/singlenews/archive/2016/november/Artikel/european-court-confirms-that-cores-are-packaging.html

Whats the difference between degradable, compostable or bio-plastics?

There is a lot of confusion between a few plastics terms that define how easily they ‘return to nature’. Below, we try to explain the difference between some of them:

Degradable – means it can be degraded, broken down. Cutting plastic with scissors, grinding into dust is degrading it. You may have seen flexible plastics that become brittle and break down in the sun and crumbles. Degradable plastics just become smaller and smaller pieces of plastic. It is small pieces of plastic like this that fish can feed on, filling their intestines, but giving them no nutrition.

Biodegradable – Biodegradable plastics are degradable AND can be broken down by micro-organisms into other organic molecules that can become part of a living organism.

Compostable – Compostable plastics are biodegradable AND they will degrade relatively quickly.

Bioplastics – are made from natural materials like vegetable oils, not fossil fuels. Depending on how they are processed bio plastics may be compostable, biodegradable or just degradable.

Oxo-degradable plastics - are plastics that will break up into small pieces more quickly than regular plastics, still leaving small pieces of plastic behind.

Take note that the majority of tests for bio-degradability specify how to test and not a pass / fail criteria, so watch out for claims that a plastic passes one test or another!

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