Bath recycles more than half its waste

May 13, 2012 at 3:57 pm

For the first time since its existence as a district in 1996, Bath has recycled more than half its waste, earning itself the title of the district with the largest annual rise in recycling.

New research shows that in the last year Bath and North East Somerset recycled 52% of household waste – an increase of 46% from last year’s figures. Statistics show that due to the increase of recycling, 14,000 tonnes of household waste have been cut from the overall amount dumped at land fill sites. This is a significant environmentally friendly landmark for Bath as the area has gone from a 12% recycling rate in 1996 to 52% in 2012.

The success has been attributed to a number of factors, namely the doorstep food waste collection scheme which began in October 2010. Councillor David Dixon (Lib-Dem, Oldfield), Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods comments that “The council’s investment in providing food waste collections is a key factor behind this latest success. We are pleased with the high participation rate and welcome people’s enthusiasm for the service.” The achievement also comes following initiatives which have increased the number of kerbside collection services for varying recyclable goods, and in the midst of a newly built waste treatment plant.

The effects of recycling have been positive for Bath. The food collection scheme has meant that last year 4,300 tonnes of food waste was used as composting rather than deposited at land fill sites. The results haven’t just been green. Due to the reduction of land fill waste, £118,000 has been saved on land fill tax, releasing a large capital sum for Bath council to distribute elsewhere. Councillor Dixon stressed this by saying: “Not only does the level of harmful gases released into the atmosphere reduce, but the council’s landfill tax charge bill is cut, meaning more money is available to protect frontline services.”

Despite Bath’s recent recycling success, 30,000 homes are still not participating in the move to ‘go green’. The council is urging these households to take part in the scheme to both help the environment and save precious budget.

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Size doesn’t matter, we can all do our bit

May 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm

With the growing concern for the environment over recent years and the ever increasing trend of ‘going green’, recycling has been brought to the forefront of our minds with questions of how we, as individuals, can do ‘our bit’ to help the cause. As with many topical issues being faced by the world today, the small amount of help that we can give, seems futile and more for our own peace of mind than for the causes themselves.

But in fact, this isn’t the case at all when it comes to caring for the environment. When will we start to believe environmental organisations begging us to work together as a team to save our planet, starting by merely separating the waste in our homes? After all, was it not each and every one of us that got us into this mess in the first place?

But, of course, being the humans that we are, we need moral support and constant praise for the help that we are providing. It often seems that unless we raise millions of pounds or recycle half of Hackney, nobody bats an eyelid. Well, all this is starting to change as we see the face of small efforts being nationally recognised.

In the small town of Newmarket in Suffolk, due to rising costs and government cuts, the recycling centre was recently in danger of being closed down. The community itself showed its strengths in preserving the environment by proclaiming that the people would rather pay a small amount to recycle than see the centre closed.

In response to this, a charity named Newmarket Open Door, renowned mostly for its work with rehousing young people in need, decided to save the centre in late August by taking it over. They are charging as little as £3 to dispose of waste difficult to get rid of and nothing for profitable recyclable goods. Anything deemed as reusable is now sold in their charity supermarket in Mildenhall, to raise funds for the causes they facilitate. In addition to this, they have also introduced a number of recycling based initiatives such as waste paper drop-off points at local churches.

Let’s Recycle has introduced a new category in their national ‘Awards for Excellence’ to recognise community achievements such as these across the nation – ‘The Best Community Recycling Initiative’. Open Door has been nominated for this award, winners of which, will be announced this evening by Channel 4’s John Snow.

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Plastic Bottle Island

February 15, 2012 at 4:53 pm

A British man has taken home recycling to paradise by not only building his own eco-island out of plastic bottles off the coast of Mexico, but running eco-tours there too.

Artist and eco-pioneer, Richard Sowa, is a modern-day Robinson Crusoe after designing and building Spiral Island II, his own private island, out of 150,000 plastic bottles. Joysxee is around 25 meters in diameter, floating offshore at holiday hotspot Isla Mujeres.

Spiral Island I was Sowa’s first project and attracted attention from green-lovers all over the world for being the first purely recycled island. However, disaster struck and seven years after it was first created, the island was destroyed by Hurricane Emily in 2005.

Undeterred, and in the true spirit of recycling, the second floating recycled island was built with the help of like-minded, environmentally aware volunteers who helped produce an eco-haven with a house, three beaches and all mod-cons, such as a washing machine which runs off wave power. Even beautiful features such as a waterfall and river exist with the help of solar energy.

Harnessing the power of the wind, water and sun, and by creating its own balanced island ecology, Sowa does not only live a green life but a self-sufficient one as well, with fruit and vegetables grown on his island-paradise too.

Holidaymakers can pop across to this eco- island to marvel at how plastic has been turned into paradise. Future plans are to sail this eco-boat around the world, on a voyage to spread the message about recycling and how to live in an environmentally-aware way.

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Dialysis Bag Wallets

January 30, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Clutch bags made out of coffee foil packaging; marble-like tabletops made of button scraps; and furniture made from pressed thermal pressed cartons; not to mention wallets made from hospital dialysis bags.

Contemporary design inspired by environmental issues defines modern green companies such as Osisu, in Thailand, where the emphasis is on fashion, function and feeling as if you are doing your bit for the planet in style.

Waste from construction sites and manufacturing is transformed into trendy furniture, home décor products and accessories through the work of architect Dr Singh Intrachooto. His company offers advice and ideas on what factories, and other companies wanting to use their waste in a productive and profitable way, can do.

By not manufacturing the products, which are made by the companies producing the waste, there is no need for this eco-design company to have huge premises and get involved in the nitty-gritty of the production line. The products are given the stamp of approval by Osisu before being sold in eco-shops and high-end designer style home furnishing outlets in Bangkok.

Being green in Asia is about being hip, rather than hippy. Without the cultural history of green-awareness, there are no negative connotations or stereotypes associated with recycling and caring about the environment, which has sometimes been attributed to this cause in the West.

In many ways this gives companies like Osisu scope to market recycling and other green issues in a modern style that defines ecological ideas in a way that is less about feeling bad about the destruction of the planet and wastefulness of resources, and more about clever use of natural products in design.

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Beach Garbage Hotel

January 27, 2012 at 4:44 pm

How do you make a statement on the state of the world’s oceans? Make a hotel out of rubbish of course. Made from 12 tonnes of beach debris, in the centre of Madrid, the Garbage Beach Hotel, was temporarily opened in January 2011. The aim was to send a message to the tourism industry about the future of holiday hot-spots, not just in Spain, but in the rest of Europe too, if the waters and coastlines were not cleaned up soon.

The five bedroom hotel was littered with decoration ranging from toys, to plastic drums and tyres, and all the flotsam and jetsam washed up on the polluted shores of many of Europe’s beaches.

This is not the first eco-hotel either. Sweden’s renowned Ice Hotel has to be the ultimate recycling project. Rebuilt every year, the ice and snow melts back into the river. Of course there is an environmental impact of building and running the hotel, so efforts to produce more renewable energy than is consumed are being made. The architects of the Ice Hotel have made a pledge to be CO2 negative by 2015.

In the UK, even hotel chain Premier Inn has opened its first eco-lodge, in January 2012, designed to use less energy. Features at the 65 bedroom Cornish hotel include ground source heat pumps for adjusting room temperature and water temperature.

Sustainably-sourced timber, LED lighting and key cards which ensure energy is not used up in unoccupied rooms, add to the green-consciousness of this business, with plans to incorporate many of these energy-saving architectural and design features in future builds.

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£3 million PVC-U recycling plant opens

December 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Eurocell has just opened up the biggest PVC-U recycling plant of its kind in the UK.

The company, which is part of the Tessenderlo Group, has invested £3 million in the new plant which is located in Ilkeston in Derbyshire, and it is hoping that it will go a long way in helping to recycle the millions of window frames in the UK which do not currently meet energy efficiency standards.

The new plant will be able to process up to 12,000 old PVC-U window frames a week, a huge number. However, the benefits don’t stop there.

It will also create new jobs in the area, and because Eurocell is using a special closed-loop process it will not only be recycling the products, but it will also be creating new products from the recycled material on site.

This means that the whole procedure will be made a lot more efficient, reducing the amount of energy required.

What’s more, the plant will focus on creating products which themselves can help to make the construction industry more efficient. One of the main products that it will be manufacturing is PVC-U thermal inserts which can be used in buildings to improve their thermal performance.

The plant will make use of the latest technology and processes in order to recycle the old window frames, and it is hoped that it will play a large role in replacing the 230 million windows across the UK which Defra has claimed need to be upgraded for failing to meet energy efficiency standards.

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New can recycling scheme in Barnstaple

December 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Recycling is growing in importance across the UK as more people are realising, that if they recycle their products instead of throwing them away, they can play a significant role in helping to prevent rubbish going to landfill sites and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Now a new scheme has launched in Barnstaple in Devon to encourage more people in the town to get involved in doing something good by recycling their drinks cans instead of throwing them away.

Every Can Counts has launched the recycling programme along with Barnstaple Town Council and BID Barnstaple. The scheme will see recycling bins appear in 400 shops and restaurants in the town centre to encourage both staff and shoppers to recycle their cans instead of throwing them away.

Barnstaple is not the first town that Every Can Counts has worked with to improve recycling. It has also joined forces with North Devon Council and other councils in the past, and it is hoping to expand even further now.

The empty cans will be collected by Community Resources, a not-for-profit organisation based in Ilfracombe, and supporters are hoping that it will go a long way to improving recycling efforts in the town.

Rick Hindley from Every Can Counts said that more than nine billion cans are sold every year in the UK and that “around 30% are consumed ‘on the go’”. They are hoping that the scheme will appeal to both workers and shoppers in the town centre, and he confirmed that they would like to “develop further projects with other town centres and retail sites in the future”.

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As landfill costs continue to rise, UK councils look to introduce new methods to increase recycling

November 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Due to the increasing cost of landfill since the introduction of the new Landfill Tax 2008 (HMRC, 2008) and the revised EU Waste Framework Directive for England and Wales which advocates that 50% of all household waste and 70% of all construction waste must be recycled by 2020 (DEFRA, 2010), councils are under increasing pressure to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill. It is no surprise therefore, that individual councils around the UK are investing both energy and budget into finding new ways in which to increase the level recycling is happening at a local level.

One such recycling scheme is the controversial ‘chip and bin’ scheme where a microchip is fitted inside the wheelie bins of individual households and businesses in order to monitor and in some cases ‘reward’ them for the amount of waste they recycle and in turn prevent from going to landfill. Already used by over 65 councils across the UK (Big Brother Watch, 2010), the scheme came under the spotlight again last month, with the announcement that Cambridge council is the latest to consider the introduction of the microchips to their bins. The council is in the process of collating local opinion on the matter via a survey which closes in early November 2011, but concern has already been voiced that in allowing the council to track how much waste each household is recycling each year, privacy is being infringed. Others are worried that this bin surveillance technology could in time be used to identify and fine those who do not recycle, though few councils have so far used the chips in this way.

In Wales, councils are under additional pressure to initiate new recycling schemes in their boroughs due to the Welsh government’s more demanding waste strategy ‘Towards Zero Waste’ which aims to see up to 70% of all suitable waste being recycled by 2024-25 (Welsh Government, 2011). In October 2011, it was revealed that a £3 million grant has been allocated by the Welsh Government to help councils across Wales in their individual recycling schemes. These so far include the collection and recycling of cooking oils for use in council vehicles by Gwynedd county council, new kerbside recycling vehicles and litre recycling boxes by Torfaen County Borough Council and the introduction of a household waste recycling centre and mattress recycling facility by the Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council. The Environment Minister, Jane Davidson, believes that every local authority in Wales is on course to meet the statutory recycling targets.

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From 2016, all new homes must be built to Level 6 of The Code for Sustainable Homes

June 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm

In the next few years, the construction industry will be faced with the tremendous challenge of building homes which must be zero carbon. The government’s Code for Sustainable Homes has implemented a rating system for sustainable home building practice. It sets out the target that all new homes must be built to a Level 6 standard from 2016.

The Code rates homes from 1 to 6 stars according to a multitude of factors, ranging from the use of heat retaining devices to the provision of storage for bicycles. Level 6 comes with the longest list and the most stringent measures. To be rated at that level, new homes will have to be completely zero carbon.

However, it is now claimed that the government will not be able to reach this target. Debate was sparked when the government released a new definition for the term “zero carbon” in its Plan for Growth in March 2011. It implies that the ratings won’t take into account the energy produced by mobile appliances such as phones and TVs used in the home. Richard Baines, from Black Country Housing Group, explains: “The aim is that new homes will still be ‘zero carbon’ by 2016 but only in respect of heating and lighting, i.e. the CO2 target for Code Level 5 rather than Code Level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes.” (Run Services)

Level 5 already sets out strict regulations concerning:

  • Energy and CO2 emissions
  • Environmentally-friendly construction materials
  • Waste facilities
  • Pollution emitted by the new home
  • Drainage facilities
  • Impact of the home on health and well-being (for example sound insulation, provision for private space)
  • Management of the construction and operation of the home (for example Considerate Constructors Scheme, impact of the construction site)
  • Environmental impact

Between April 2007 and March 2011, only 323 UK homes have received a 6 star rating, according to official data.

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Ealing Council awards £80,000 through its Recycling Reward Incentive Scheme

June 2, 2011 at 2:31 pm

In April 2011, residents of several wards in Ealing were rewarded for their recycling efforts. Waste disposal in the 23 wards of the borough was monitored for a period of 7 months, between September 2010 and April 2011. Council officers went out on to the streets to check how much residents were using their recycling bins for paper, glass, cans, plastic and food waste. Monitoring first took place in September and then 6 months later, in order to measure the wards’ rate of improvement.

In the end, 5 wards were rewarded and placed in two categories:

  • Elthorne and Hobbayne were found to be the best overall recyclers, with an average of 72.7% of their households recycling. They won £10,000 each.
  • South Acton had the best increase in recycling rates with a rise of 6.1%. It was followed by Southfields and Northolt Mandeville (4.1% increase each). Each ward won £20,000.

At the other end of the spectrum, Southall Green came last with the worst participation rates and results. On average, only 38.3% of its residents participated in recycling.

Ealing rewarded wards rather than individuals. The prizes will be used to improve local facilities.

It is not just the wards that profited from this award: during the 7-month survey, the council as a whole spent £231,000 less in landfill tax according to the Ealing Gazette.

Ealing’s incentive initiative is fairly new in the UK. Only two other councils have recently organised recycling rewards schemes: Windsor and Maidenhead (RecycleBank scheme) and Cornwall. These schemes aim at rewarding the residents directly, rather than wards, with shopping vouchers, discounts and offers at local shops and restaurants.

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