IFCE Global Environmental Weekly Events [7/21 - 7/27/2018]
01 UK’s Plastic Waste May Be Dumped Overseas Instead of Recycled
Millions of tons of waste plastic from British businesses and homes may be ending up in landfill sites across the world, the government’s spending watchdog has warned. Huge amounts of packaging waste is being sent overseas on the basis that it will be recycled and turned into new products. However, concerns have been raised that in reality much of it is being dumped in sites from Turkey to Malaysia.
Every year, British households throw 22m tons of waste into the bin. Recycling rates have stagnated at about 44% and the UK is unlikely to hit its target of 50% by 2020. Since 2002, the amount of waste sent overseas to countries including China, Turkey, Malaysia and Poland has increased sixfold – accounting for half of the packaging reported as recycled last year.British companies alone have shipped more than 2.7m tons of plastic waste to China and Hong Kong since 2012 – two-thirds of the UK’s total waste plastic exports, according to data from Greenpeace released last year.
Source: The Guardian
02 CSE Exposes Massive Environmental Dumping of Old and Used Vehicles in Africa and South Asia
New Delhi (India)-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment revealed a large-scale global trade in old and used vehicles from high income to low and middle income countries of Africa and South Asia. The trade, says CSE, is causing massive environmental dumping and toxic pollution.
Every year, out of the staggering global vehicle stock of two billion, more than 40 million vehicles become old and decrepit. But instead of being scrapped within domestic markets, a large number of these are sold in low and middle income countries that do not have the capacity to manage their polluting emissions.
Emissions regulations for vehicles and fuel quality in most vehicle-importing countries are very weak. Even though South and East African countries have adopted 50 ppm sulphur fuels, they have not yet opted for commensurate Euro-IV emissions standards for vehicles due to consumer pressure for cheaper used vehicles. The rest of Africa uses very high sulphur diesel (in the range of 1,000-10,000 ppm):this does not allow the use of advanced emissions control systems.
Source: Centre for Science and Environment
03 China’s Environment Ministry Approves New Plan to Tackle Rural Pollution
China’s environment ministry has approved a new plan to tackle growing pollution threats in its vast countryside, and will strive to clean up contaminated rural land and drinking water and improve waste management, it said on Tuesday. The new plan also mandates cuts in fertilizer and pesticide use and improved recycling rates throughout the countryside.
China’s countryside has struggled to cope with land and water pollution caused not only by unsustainable farming practices, but also by poorly regulated, privately-owned mines and manufacturing plants, as well as rising volumes of plastic waste.
“There is a serious lack of infrastructure there for the disposal of human waste and sewage, the huge amount of livestock farming waste, chemical fertilisers and pesticides and, of course, the trash,” said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), a non-government organization focusing on pollution monitoring in China.
04 Tokyo Focuses On Environment Two Years Out From Olympics
With two years to go until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Japanese capital is hoping to use the Games as motivation to improve its environmental sustainability. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, who was previously Japan's Minister of the Environment, has made lowering emissions and plastic litter prevention some of her main objectives in charge of the capital.
In May, Koike hosted the Clean City and Clear Sky conference that brought together city mayors and environmental leaders to discuss plans on cleaning up the world's cities. With Tokyo set to host the Olympics starting July 24, 2020, Koike is hopeful the Games can spur a change and make Japan more sustainable.
"We aim to leverage the Games as an opportunity to showcase our model of a sustainable city to the world and our goal of becoming a global environmental leader," Koike said on Monday at an event to mark the two-year countdown to the Games.
Source: WSAU News
05 Puerto Rico Senate Minority Leader Calls for New Energy Market
Puerto Rico needs an open energy market with microgrids and rural electric cooperatives to decrease dependence on its large utility, Eduardo Bhatia, the island’s Senate minority leader, told Bloomberg Environment. Puerto Rico’s utility needs to exist in an open market involving other players, including consumers producing their own electricity from solar panels, he said in an exclusive interview with Bloomberg Environment ahead of the hearing.
Bhatia said he thinks the island needs to allow PREPA to exist but also encourage citizens to participate in the market by producing their own energy. Increased funding also is needed for the Puerto Rico Energy Commission, an independent regulator formed in 2014 to oversee PREPA. In a recent budget from the bankruptcy oversight board, the commission’s budget was proposed to be cut more than 70 percent—from $7 million in fiscal 2017 to $1.8 million in fiscal 2018.
Source: Bloomberg BNA
06 Environment Massachusetts Releases “Roadmap” to 100 Percent Renewables
Environment Massachusetts is pushing for Massachusetts to get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources. On Tuesday the organization joined with those heading local renewable energy projects to release its agenda, or roadmap, to do so.
"We could produce 19 times as much electricity as the state consumes each year from offshore wind. From solar power, we can get 47 percent of the state's electricity just by putting solar panels on every rooftop in the state - to say nothing of larger, ground-mounted installations," State Director Ben Hellerstein said. "The potential is there. We are seeing new technologies like electric vehicles, energy storage, heat pumps, that are more than ever making it possible for us to imagine a world where 100 percent of the energy for our electric grid, heating, transportation, is coming from renewable sources."
Michael Canales, North Adams administrative officer, highlighted the city’s solar 3.5-megawatt solar project, purchasing power from other solar arrays, converting streetlights to LED, energy efficiency projects at City Hall and the skating rink. The city also joined with 11 other towns on a municipal aggregation project which provides electricity to homes from renewable sources at a lower cost than National Grid would on its own. The city is designated a Green Community and has weatherization projects lined up at the library and senior center.
07 Formulate Environment Policy to Control Small-Scale Miners
An environmental and cultural rights lawyer has called for a proper and clear policy framework that can enable small-scale miners to operate without harming the environment while contributing to the economy.
Professor Tumai Murombo was presenting on new business opportunities in Zimbabwe versus environmental, economic, social and cultural rights. He said statistics proved that artisanal miners were making more profit while degrading the environment and attributed this to lack of governing laws.
“In December last year [the] Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe reported that 13,2% tonnes of gold came from small-scale miners and the major big-scale miners only produced 11,6% tonnes. The small-scale miners are regarded as criminals, and burglars makorokoza. They are arrested for mining and possessing gold, but they produced more.” Murombo said the reason why artisanal miners were degrading the environment was because they did not know where to draw the line.
08 California Wildfires Partially Shut Down Yosemite at Peak of Tourist Season
Yosemite national park has been partially closed and officials have ordered more mandatory evacuations as wildfires continue to sweep across California this week. Fueled by dry conditions and high temperatures, smoke has settled over the popular tourist destination, causing unsafe conditions for visitors and workers, prompting officials to issue a temporary closure and evacuate the remaining tourists beginning on Wednesday at noon.
The park has remained mostly open throughout the past week, despite warnings from local public health officials, but campsites and lodges emptied out after disappointed tourists were ordered to leave by the midday deadline. Complicated by high temperatures, air quality measurements have been in “unhealthy” to “very unhealthy” ranges through the past several days.
Although the fire has not reached the park yet, officials wanted to ensure firefighters had access to the area for defensive operations as they battle the flames. For those still in the area, cooling centers are being set up where people can breathe clean air and public health officials were available to aid workers.
Source: The Guardian
09 Chinese Factories Lag on Environmental Compliance
Despite ongoing fears of an escalation in trade conflict between the US and China, the latest data shows demand for quality inspection and supplier audits in the manufacturing giant are still on the rise. According to a new quarterly update from AsiaInspection (AI), is that China’s factories are lagging behind the rest of Asia in terms of environmental compliance.
Notably, the latest data highlights a strong correlation between a factory’s size and its sustainability profile. For instance, so far in 2018, small factories in Asia consistently fall behind during onsite audits compared to larger factories, scoring some 6.5% lower on social compliance criteria, and 14% lower on environmental issues.
In China in particular, smaller factories (employing 100 workers or less), while comprising less than half of all facilities audited for environmental compliance, accounted for more than two-thirds of major non-compliances in the first half 2018 - with waste management and pollution prevention being the most common issues by far.
10 Land Degradation: The Larest Environmental Issue of Our Time
Land degradation caused by human activities is occurring at an alarming rate across the world, and the cost will be steep if no action is taken. This year the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service (Ipbes) produced the world’s first comprehensive, evidence-based assessment highlighting the dangers and far-reaching impacts of land degradation.
The United Nations-backed study found that land degradation has reached “critical” levels across the world as 75 percent of land is already degraded, and projections show that such degradation will increase to over 90 percent by 2050. The United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification reported that the global economy would lose a staggering $23 trillion by 2050 because of land degradation.
Not only will it affect economies, but the phenomenon will impact two-thirds of humanity, who will be food-insecure, while societies are left with a heightened risk of instability.
Source: Business Mirror