Archive for April 2010
A Which? study of 14 household items including laundry tablets, toilet cleaners and nappies found almost half were marketed with green claims that the companies did not support with convincing evidence.
Tesco had agreed to alter the packaging of its Tesco Naturally toilet cleaner as a result of the research, Which? said.
A panel of experts who examined Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Green Force and Ecover toilet cleaners believed each carried at least one green claim that was not proven by the manufacturer’s evidence.
They found no convincing evidence to show that the chemicals found in a standard toilet cleaner would have a significantly worse impact on aquatic life.
The panel also found no convincing evidence that the chemicals found in market-leading laundry tablets would have a significantly worse impact on aquatic life than “eco” versions made by Simply Active Eco Smart and Ecover.
However all six nappy and eco wipe products in the investigation used environmental claims that stood up, the panel agreed.
Green communications expert John Twitchen told Which? some claims used to market nappies and wipes were vague and made it difficult for consumers to differentiate between products.
He said: “Products targeting green consumers have a responsibility to be green and unambiguous. While claims may be scientifically proven, the evidence has to be accessible to the average consumer.”
Which? said: “When companies make clear green claims it helps consumers make eco choices with confidence. But our experts concluded that many of the companies did not provide enough evidence to back up their claims and thought that some were exaggerated. This makes it hard for people to choose.”
Waste Management refers to the process of (i) collection of waste matter generated mainly by human consumption and activity, (ii) transport and shipment of the collected waste matter to a waste treatment facility and (iii) processing/recycling this waste material for further use or disposing it for good.
Waste Management is required for three reasons. One, you can’t be having waste lying around in any area as it will make the area look awful and the waste will raise a stink. Two, if waste is unattended to, it will attract pests and termites and the chances of a disease spreading will increase. Three, Man has realized that, if he allows waste to pile up or even burned, such an act would be disastrous for our environment. It is a mans duty to control waste and recycle it back into use by recovering resources from it.
History Of Waste Management
Once upon a time, when the density of population was low, the exploitation of the world’s natural resources was minimal and manageable. Plus, there was not much of industrialization and the wastes generated by humans were mostly biodegradable and thus their impact on the environment, minimal. This coupled with the fact that not much waste was generated, man did not feel the necessity to manage it.
Time flew, population grew and before humans knew it, the industrial revolution set in (18th Century). People from rural areas migrated to cities and industrial towns en masse. Human consumption began to get concentrated and waste began multiplying. The proliferation of waste led to many diseases such as bubonic plague, cholera and typhoid, which led to suffering and death.
From this event on, the industrialized nations realized the importance of waste management.
Recovering Resources From Waste
As the world population increases and waste grows in volume, the world’s scientists and planners have evolved technologies to recover resources from waste, which can be used again. For example, the developed nations have sophisticated facilities that convert the calorific content present in waste into electricity. In developing nations, manual laborers sift through the waste and extract recyclable material from it, thereby reducing the volume of waste that needs to be disposed.
The term recycling is universally associated with waste management. When we say recycle, we mean that our everyday waste will be collected, processed and then reused in another form. For example, products made out of paper, aluminum, plastic are collected and converted back into paper, aluminum and plastic respectively. Recycling of waste items made up of one material is an easy task.
Electronic waste is sent to developing nations where recycling plants extract gold and copper from the e-waste. Used automobiles are scrapped and their metal is sold to scrap lots, which then sell the metal back to factories for re-conversion. And so on.
Waste Management Techniques
Nations employ many techniques to deal with their waste. Here is a brief roundup of these techniques:
1. Landfill: This is the most traditional way of managing waste, by dumping it in a landfill. Countries such as Australia that have vast expanses of land, normally dispose their waste in abandoned quarries or mines. A landfill is an inexpensive way to get rid of waste. However, care should be taken to ensure that only waste that does not harm the environment is dumped in landfills. Populous countries or small countries, such as Japan, have to resort to other means to manage their waste.
2. Incineration: Incineration is the disposal of waste by burning it. However, incineration is not an effective tool for waste management as the burning of waste consumes resources and energy, destroys the recyclable material present in the waste and emits many harmful pollutants.
3. Composting: Composting is a technique in which organic waste materials (food, plants, paper) are decomposed and then recycled as compost for use in agriculture and landscaping applications.
4. Mechanical Biological treatment: In this technique, a variety of waste (plastic, paper, glass, etc.) are fed in bulk into the waste treatment plant. The MBT process extracts the recyclable content in the waste and converts it to calorific fuel that can be used by cement/power plants.
5. Pyrolysis and Gasification: These are thermal techniques, using these, waste is treated at high temperatures and at a very high pressure. In Pyrolysis, the waste material is converted to solid or liquid. The solid material can be further refined into a carbon form while the liquid extract can be used as energy-giving oil. In gasification, the waste material is converted into a synthetic gas, which can be burned to produce more energy.
In conclusion, waste management has become part of our survival strategy. If we have to live, we will produce waste. If we do not treat waste, it will choke us. Waste is a problem, waste Management is the solution.
World is facing a resource cum growth crunch in 2009 and gloom seems to be spreading in 2010 also. Global leaders and leaders of the industries are closely discussing the various strategies to meet the phenomenal challenges. A recovery strategy based on high carbon energy resources is short sighted efforts which needs a re look.
Seriously, there is a need of high growth and 21st century will be a low carbon economy. The scale of new green jobs , technologies, practices, services and products required to shift to a low carbon economy. As per an estimate by United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) in 2008, the global green deal will set the stage For a low carbon economy and resource efficiency economy. Around 20 million green jobs can be created in renewable sectors alone by the year 2030, twice that would be achieved with a fossil fuel based economy.
Analyst across the globe feel that building a low carbon Global economy will require a significant , long term financial flows in to all the developing nations. There will be multiple aim of reducing global warming, increasing Green employment, reducing poverty , allocating the resources properly which will ultimately lead to a higher sustainable growth.
Practically, there must be removal; of all the obstacles to free flow of low carbon money, clean technologies and state consent is desirable. Governments across the global have onerous responsibilities to come out with green recovery packages. Tariff, subsidy and stimulus incentives are desirable drivers to growth It will accelerate the business processes to provide with green employment opportunities. Many business forums are working towards specific policy mechanisms that might provide cost effective and environmentally pragmatic climate framework.
In fact businesses and governments of world have to Find a positive answers to a variety of key questions :
(a) What will be market mechanism to price carbon free products?
(b) How can energy efficiency measures can be globally scaled up?
(c) How the business houses and Governments can create green jobs?
(d) How low carbon products will be popularized, vetted and approved for use by consumers across globe?
(e) How to reduce energy consumption pattern in urban societies?
(f) What are the various policy decisions to promote tax benefits to the industries?
(g) How investment flow can be attracted towards Renewable for a longer period?
(h) How the issues of energy securities will be managed?
(i) How the stimulus package or a green package will be designed?
(j) How the specific projects and ideas will create jobs in the short run
And catalyze long term growth in low carbon economy?
These are long term challenges which if taken correctly in the first decade of 21st century will create a more balanced world in terms of better climate, sustainable economy reduced disparity , more jobs and better governance. Low carbon economy will give a win win situation to the world.
It’s probably fair to say that two of the most newsworthy topics in recent times have been the environment and the global economy.
People are becoming increasingly aware of the effects their actions are having on the environment; but at a time when the global financial downturn is hitting many people hard, it would perhaps be a little understandable if they were to shift their priorities from saving the environment to saving themselves from financial oblivion. But it really shouldn’t be a case of compromising one over the other.
Businesses in particular are coming under increasing pressure to ‘go green’ and cut their carbon emissions significantly, for the greater good of the planet. But this isn’t something that companies should view as a hindrance to their profitability.
Indeed, investigating new ways of managing investments such as property, plant and equipment and ensuring that they are properly maintained can help to maximise their lifespan, which will not only go some way towards reducing companies’ capital investments, but their ongoing operational costs too.
Research has revealed that as much as 60 per cent of the average company’s operating and maintenance budget is consumed by energy expenditure. And many businesses simply aren’t equipped to measure their energy consumption level beyond plant or facility level, meaning they can’t identify which specific asset or department consumes the most energy.
This, coupled with badly installed or maintained industrial equipment that is consuming way more energy than it otherwise should be, means that many organisations may be restricted in the extent to which they are able to ‘go green’.
And this is why adopting an effective asset management strategy could be integral to the future of many environmental initiatives. The ability to measure energy consumption at a micro level is central to any organisation’s ability to control their carbon emissions.
An increasing number of businesses are using enterprise asset management (EAM) software to monitor and manage the deployment, performance and maintenance of company assets. These are known to be a very effective tool in uncovering hidden savings for the organisation and streamlining operations to ensure profitability is maximised in the long term. The upshot of this is that by cutting energy costs they will also be benefiting the environment too, thereby going some way towards fulfilling their green obligations.
The term carbon offsetting refers to the way that that carbon produced, typically by a journey using a carbon-producing mode of transport (plane, car, train), is compensated for by the individual who took that journey.
It is not exclusively used in connection with transport. It is also possible to calculate the carbon output of your house, or office, or even an individuals or a family’s daily or annual carbon output, and seek to replace that atmospheric pollutant with something that will help to filter it from the environment. This is normally done by growing and planting trees, which absorb the carbon in the atmosphere and replace it with oxygen.
How Does it Work? Well, typically, an Individual or family will contact a carbon offsetting company, who will explain the range of services they offer. These will usually be tree-planting schemes somewhere around the world, but some offer other options. A relatively new term called carbon sinks refers to huge planting schemes that forest vast areas of land, but this scale forestation are normally done for National or Governmental carbon offsetting.
The individual or family representative (or company representative) will then buy carbon credits directly from the company, usually but not exclusively, online. Most companies will be able to work out how much carbon was produced, say from a return flight from London to Paris, and the charge to the customer will reflect the work it takes in tree-planting to roughly replace the carbon produced during that trip.
How do you find a Carbon Offset Company. Carbon Offset companies are now proliferating in the UK and in the western world. Most of them are web-based companies, and they and the services they offer are easy to find by doing an Internet search for carbon offsetting or carbon offset companies or schemes.
It is a good idea to look into the range of companies and schemes they offer before committing to one and buying personalised services. Think about any preferred issues first. For instance, there may be a tree-planting scheme in your area that you would prefer to support, rather than a scheme millions of miles away.
Some companies offer a certificate of purchase and of planting in return for a customer’s money, but some don’t. It is always best to shop around, and discuss with friends and family who already use these schemes. Some environmental or community groups have preferred partner status with some offset companies, and it is worth checking these out first.
Another option of course is to bypass the carbon offset companies and do it for yourself. It is possible to buy a piece of land, not so cheap in most parts of the UK anymore, but still possible; and organise regular tree planting on the land yourself. There are websites dedicated to this process, and helping someone calculate just how many trees to plant per amount of carbon produced. Factors worth considering are the regular care and watering of the trees, and getting access to the land on a regular basis.
Also the selection of and correct planting of local, indigenous trees is important. Check with a local nursery or specialised tree supplier what is available, and plant with the seasons. If you have a large enough garden, consider planting more trees and shrubs. A family who flies often and long-distance would have to plant more than the average suburban garden with trees to compensate for a lifetime of carbon production, but a combination of planting at home, locally where possible (in consultation with wildlife conservation managers), and occasionally paying for offsetting from a specialised company would probably compensate for the carbon.
But remember that nothing compensates for carbon output as reducing it.
With all the talk today about global warming, pollution and going green, most people are becoming overwhelmed with the vast amount of information out there about how to reduce what is known as your “carbon footprint.” Well, it’s not as complicated as one might think. First, let’s start by defining just exactly what a carbon footprint is.
A carbon footprint is a calculated figure that is determined by various factors in which one might be impacting the environment. Factors include how often you drive an automobile, what you do for a living and how your home is heated. When individuals take proactive steps to reduce their carbon footprints, the effects are collectively felt. Here are some simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint!
First, look around you, right now. Are there appliances on that you aren’t specifically using, for example, the television buzzing in the background? Turn these appliances off. You won’t miss anything, and you’ll even save a few cents here and there on your electric bill.
No matter where you are in the world, there’s a good chance you have either your heat or central air running. If it’s the air conditioning, turn up the temperature a degree or two. If it’s the heat, turn it down a few degrees. If your systems have timers, use them because unless you’re at home, it’s not necessary to heat or cool your home as much.
Water, water everywhere… so the old verse goes. Unless we conserve water, however, we’re going to feel just as helpless as that author caught at sea with no water to drink. So wait until your washer and dryer are full to run them, and only fill water glasses with as much as you are going to drink. Turn the water off when you’re brushing your teeth. Take shorter showers, and stop flushing tissues; use the wastebasket instead of the water it takes to flush the toilet for no reason.
We all know that smog is unsightly and unhealthy, but smog is just a visible representation of the much deeper damage caused by CO2 emissions. So try to do a weekly trip to the grocery store instead of many short trips. If you’re in the market for a new car, consider a hybrid model. Take public transportation when you can, or try to cycle and walk if you’re going a short distance. The benefits of this will help you as well as the environment.
These are all small steps you can take immediately to reduce your carbon footprint. Make these small changes in your daily lives and you too will officially be green.
It is not as easy to measure a person’s or even a product’s carbon footprint as some may think. In fact, it is close to impossible. As an example, let’s take a pack of bacon:
There are many stages in the life-cycle of a food product: raw materials are produced and transported, the food is processed and packaged and then it is distributed to retailers where it is stored. But it doesn’t end there: once bought it must be transported home, stored again and consumed, all of which use energy. Lastly there is disposal – the packaging is collected and usually taken to landfill; a small amount is recycled or reused.
In each of these stages there are hundreds of complex processes, all of which will emit greenhouse gases, which can vary by each individual product. Taking the pack of bacon: At the start of the cycle we have a young pig. Its food is produced and transported to the farm where it lives. Immediately we must ask: How is it transported? By lorry, plane, rail? How is its food supply manufactured? How many tractors plough the corn field where its food is grown, and what are the emissions of each tractor? This can go on, and we are only on the first phase of the cycle. The pig farm machinery must also be taken into consideration – and each farm will be different. What of the emissions from each pig’s bodily functions?
This question may seem insignificant when compared to the many other factors, but it leads to another very important point: The carbon footprint of a product is a measure of its impact on the environment i.e. how much is it going to increase the greenhouse effect? The use of the word ‘carbon’ can be confusing here; there are other gases which when released into the atmosphere have a far greater global warming potential, relative to carbon dioxide.
And so this brings us to a pig’s fart: methane. It is emitted at other stages of the cycle too, like landfill sites where waste decomposes, releasing methane.
In carbon footprints, these other gases are accounted for and included. The trouble is that many of the carbon footprints quoted today can be somewhat misleading, because they are based on the global warming potential relative to CO2 over a 100 year period. If we had 100 years to address climate change, this would make sense. But it appears we have years, not decades, so it would be more meaningful to consider the effect over the next 20 years. One can see that methane is 3 times more potent over 20 years than it is over 100 years. The footprints of products would almost certainly be different if calculated on a 20 year basis.
Riverford, the largest supplier of organic food boxes in England, came across a good example of the complexity in measuring the carbon footprints of food and drink. Riverford carried out a study comparing the carbon footprint of its tomatoes grown locally to those grown in Spain. It would be reasonable to expect that the tomatoes grown abroad would have a higher footprint – they have further to travel and they must be conserved (refrigerated) on route. However the study showed that while they do indeed emit more CO2 in the transport stage, overall they are less carbon-intensive i.e. fewer greenhouse gases are released in the life-cycle of each Spanish tomato sold in the UK, than in a UK tomato sold in the UK! This is because in Spain, the tomatoes can be grown in the natural climate, but in the UK greenhouses are needed, heating is needed and the growing of the tomatoes requires energy – taken from the national grid. When this is weighed against the emissions from transport, the UK tomatoes have a higher carbon-intensity.
Now imagine trying to work out all of these stages for a person’s lifestyle…air travel, packs of bacon eaten…it would be a lifetime calculation for about 100 Albert Einsteins working together. In fact, I heard that when a large British supermarket chain announced they would be offering carbon footprint labels on 1000s of products by next year, they had to quickly backtrack and now offer labels on just packets of crisps – and only one flavour, from one manufacturer.
The green movement has created a plethora of buzzwords. One of the more popular phrases is renewable energy. And for good reason. Businesses, traditional and emerging, will soon be affected by how they will respond to the reality of renewable energy depending on where they fall in the supply chain.
Renewable energy is a term that refers to those potential sources of energy that are naturally replenished, which means that using them does not decrease the amount available in the future. This contrasts with nonrenewable sources (fossil-based fuels) that have a limited supply and will eventually be used up. Renewable energy sources include sunlight, hydrosphere/water cycle, geothermal and some types of biomass and biofuels. Think of energy as a source and electricity as an application.
The mechanisms used to generate electricity from these sources vary considerably. For sunlight, there are photovoltaic technologies that generate electricity directly from sunlight. But there are also systems that use the sunlight to heat an intermediate fluid, which is used to turn turbines to generate electricity. There are multiple ways that water can be used to provide electricity, of which the most commonly used is the hydroelectric dam.
Other systems that produce electricity from water include wave power systems that convert the kinetic energy of waves into electricity, tidal power systems that use the kinetic energy of tidal flows in a similar fashion, and systems that take advantage of the temperature differences between surface waters and deeper waters in the ocean to generate electricity. Geothermal systems rely on the heat of the earth’s interior to generate electricity in various ways, depending on the specific nature of the site. Biomass and biofuels consist of fuels derived from plant and other organic matter, which are renewable depending on the sustainability of the agricultural practices that provide the biomass. Examples include ethanol and biodiesel liquid fuels for transportation, and solid biomass from unused portions of other crops for electricity generation.
Presently, renewable energy sources provide only a small fraction of global energy production, and the majority of this is from biomass burning such a wood (which while renewable in the strictest sense is not environmentally friendly) in undeveloped regions of the world. Renewable energy provides less than 1% of the world’s energy production even though its use is expected to grow rapidly amid rising concerns about global warming and the rising price of oil.
The biggest impediment to the widespread use of renewable energy sources in the past has been its price compared to the price of coal, natural gas, and petroleum. At present, wind energy costs $0.04-$0.08 per kWh, while coal costs $0.04 per kWh. Other renewable energy sources are even more expensive, such as solar thermal at $0.12-$0.34 per kWh and solar photovoltaic at $0.25-$1.60 per kWh. Water sources vary in cost from being cheaper than coal to costing three times as much. This cost differential, however, is narrowing as the price of oil rises and new technological innovations are bringing down the prices of renewables.
Looking forward, the increasing likelihood of carbon taxes or emissions trading schemes being implemented in much of the developed world means that the cost of generating electricity from coal, natural gas, and petroleum will rise even more precipitously, which will make renewable energy even more attractive for future development.
The future of renewable energy depends on how government energy policy will develop over the course of the next presidential administration and congress. Will carbon taxes or emissions trading schemes be enacted to limit greenhouse gas emissions? Will green grid technologies become widespread? Will the development of new oil supplies be allowed? All of these possible scenarios will affect the future deployment of renewable energy technologies.
As an example, consider the application of rooftop solar photovoltaic systems. Not only will these systems provide electricity to homes and businesses, but they can even be used to sell energy back to the power utility. Farmers and ranchers can plant wind turbines on land unsuitable for growing crops. The widespread use of smart grid technologies can become a major method of decentralizing power generation.
Similarly, if emissions trading schemes are enacted, then the rising cost of carbon-producing energy sources will force a shift to renewable energy technologies for large portions of our energy needs. This is deemed so likely that many believe that renewable energy technologies will be the next major industrial boom, similar to the computer technology revolution of the 1980s and the internet revolution of the late 1990s. Increasingly, large quantities of venture capital are pouring into renewable energy companies in expectation of just such an outcome.
How you position your firm to take advantage of the probable boom in renewable energy depends on your business’s energy needs and usage. If green grid technology becomes widespread, the opportunity presents itself to businesses to become both an electricity consumer and a supplier. If carbon taxes or emissions trading systems drive the move away from petroleum transport fuels to biomass transport fuels, it is important to be prepared for that as well.
As the renewable energy debate gains momentum, NOW is the time to prepare for its eventual inevitability to help protect your business from rising energy and transportation costs.
At the end of 2006, the Oxford University Press ‘Word of the Year’ was ‘Carbon Neutral’. At the start of 2007, the BBC reported green and environmental issues extensively. The majority of these articles related to the term “carbon footprint” with much emphasis being placed upon UK businesses. Last week saw UK businesses meeting to discuss climate issues and methods of reducing their Carbon footprint.
Of course, reduction and in some instances elimination of a Business’ Carbon Footprint is extremely viable. Simply carrying out the following steps will reduce your businesses CO2 output or usage:
Turn off un-necessary electrical goods at the source.
Turn off computers, printers, photocopiers and any chargers at night.
Turning off lighting when business premises are unattended will constitute significant savings during a single financial year.
With a view to targeting UK business’ the Carbon trust published a scheme to measure a product’s Carbon emissions. This initiative, termed “Cradle to Grave” stipulates that a Company should be able to measure the total Carbon emission from the sourcing of raw materials through to disposal of any given product. This will in effect levy the carbon produced against extraction, production, transportation, distribution and disposal of the goods. It’s a great idea, but there are certain areas where a product’s Carbon footprint can be seriously reduced. This can be carried out through increasing the longevity of the product. This is where companies like ours come in. In effect, your business can be assured that for a given product, the increase in longevity will result in a “watered down” carbon footprint.
By recycling a business’s computer or working in hand with IT production companies, we’re able to ensure removal of computers and IT equipment that is considered end-of-life by their current owner and then re-introduce the same goods into the consumer chain where they are either wanted or needed as an economical solution.
This isn’t the end of the story though. By recycling or removing the used and unwanted IT equipment from a UK business, the company can expect to off-set their Carbon production at least indirectly. As stipulated in the Independent, “Downing Street says the carbon dioxide emitted from the Prime Minister’s official travel since 2005 has been “offset” by paying for projects that cut emissions”. In the same way, a UK business could expect to off-set their Carbon production to a certain extent by recycling their used and unwanted Computer equipment through us. Jonathan Johns of Ernst and Young stated in the Independent that Green taxes are increasingly on the horizon, therefore having a carbon-friendly footprint makes sense. Green taxes will have a significant impact on UK Businesses, where Carbon trading will become an integral part of Corporate responsibilities.
The world is constantly changing but not like in the past few hundred years. Technological advancements are forcing the environment to change in a way that is not at all desirable to human-kind. Though technology has made our lives comfortable to a great extent the same factors of comfort are contributing to making the world a difficult and uncomfortable place to live in.
The machines that cool or heat our homes and offices contribute to global warming that is causing disastrous changes to the climate and the environment as a whole. The climatic changes all around the globe is leading to environmental disasters in almost every country and this should be sounding alarm bells in every home of the world. However, we are still taking things easy hoping for the governments of the world to do something about putting a climate change emergency program in place.
People should learn from the devastating earthquakes, typhoons and tsunamis that are wrecking havoc around the world. The first point in an emergency program should be to educate the people as to the factors that lead to such environmental disasters and how to detect or predict the possible occurrence of one. Then the next step should include lessons on how to prepare for such contingencies.
Knowledge on how to act in times of environmental emergencies will help people improve their chances of surviving and coming out of such a situation with the least amount of damage.
Evidence is pointing to the fact that nature is going to hold man-kind responsible for the degradation of nature and the onslaught of natural disasters is inevitable. Mankind should be prepared to face these disasters if not do something to avert them if it is not too late already. Greenhouse gases are not just government propaganda. It is a fierce reality and is the main contributing factor to global warming a phenomenon that is likely result in half the globe being submerged under the seas due to the melting of the ice caps at the poles of the globe.
It is believed that no matter what man does now there is no way of averting warming of the globe, it can only be delayed. What is of prime importance now is that man should understand the problems of climate change and how to react in such times. When climate change brings about a rise in the levels of the seas and oceans, forest fires and other disasters man must know the best measures to be taken.
It is important that the governments of every country should set up a contingency plan and a training program to educate the people as to how they should react in the event of an emergency brought on by climate changes. This will contribute to millions of people being in a better position to safe guard their lives and property and will lessen the impact of the environmental disaster.
With the present knowledge acquired by scientists around he world we now have a better chance of surviving we also have a better choice.