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Zambian villagers win right to have pollution case heard in Britain

High court judge dismisses claims by mining firm Vedanta Resources that water contamination case against them and subsidiary KCM should be heard in Zambia

Eighteen hundred Zambian villagers claiming to have had their water supplies polluted and their health affected by a giant mining company’s subsidiary have won the right to have their case heard in the British courts rather than in Zambia.

Vedanta, which is headquartered in London, had argued strongly in the high court that the villagers’ case against them and their subsidiary, KCM, should be heard in Zambia, where the alleged pollution took place near the town of Chingola and the giant Nchanga copper mine.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Mobilising the shift towards a New Plastics Economy

The global plastics economy produces over 300 million tonnes of material each year, a figure that has increased twenty-fold over the past 50 years and is expected to double again by 2050. Transforming this system is a daunting task. However, it may start with a simple mindset change, one where stakeholders across the industry’s value chain look beyond the standard 10% incremental improvement targets focused on efficiency and recycling, and towards a redesign of the entire system.

Design thinking, innovation and ambition were focus points during the inaugural New Plastics Economy workshop, a two-day event which brought together a range of business actors from across the plastics sector including retailers, manufacturers and recyclers. Situated at the iconic Royal Society of Arts, a building founded with the mission to better society through ideas and action in the arts, manufacturing and commerce, the workshop brought the initiative’s stakeholders together for the first time and set the stage for a bold three-year project.

The initiative aims to mobilise the recommendations from the recent New Plastics Economy report*, which found that 95% of the material value of plastics is lost after just one use amounting to $80-120 billion being lost to the economy each year. Furthermore, the system as a whole has several damaging outputs, including negative externalities estimated conservatively at $40 billion per year, a figure that exceeds the industry’s profit pool.

The New Plastics Economy from NPEC on Vimeo.

Still, there’s reason to be optimistic that these challenges can be overcome. Growing awareness of the task at hand and issues with traditional solutions, while technological advancements, for example in areas ranging from processing capabilities, manufacturing processes and digitally-enabled monitoring and collection systems are particularly encouraging factors. Meanwhile, a diverse range of stakeholders from across the plastics value chain are engaging with the issue, “In this room we have the power of over 1000 years of collective experience”, Rob Opsomer, New Plastics Economy programme lead, commented in his opening remarks on Wednesday.

Experience is valuable, but thinking differently is critical. Albert Einstein is famously quoted as saying that, “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Design firm IDEO are heavily engaged with the project, and the importance of new kind of thinking and a new system design inspired approach was balanced with leveraging the experience already at the table throughout the event, which will hopefully be a first step towards the development of cross-industry collaborations and projects over the course of the next three years.

The New Plastics Economy report was published and released in January at the World Economic Forum. The initiative is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with a broad group of leading companies, cities, philanthropists, policymakers, academics, students, NGOs, and entrepreneurs. It builds on two years of formative work as part of Project MainStream, a multi-industry, global initiative launched in 2014 by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, with McKinsey.

The post Mobilising the shift towards a New Plastics Economy appeared first on Circulate.

Source: Circulate News RSS

G7 nations pledge to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025

Leaders of the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the EU urge all countries to join them in eliminating support for coal, oil and gas in a decade

The G7 nations have for the first time set a deadline for the ending most fossil fuel subsidies, saying government support for coal, oil and gas should end by 2025.

The leaders of the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the European Union encouraged all countries to join them in eliminating “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” within a decade.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Circulate on Fridays: Robot Space Geckos, Circular Economy on BBC and More


Every Friday, Circulate rounds up a collection of interesting circular economy related stories and articles. This Friday, Pew Research finds out what people really think of the sharing economy, NASA are using gecko tech and a chance to catch up on circular economy insight on the BBC and iTunes.

Anything to report?

Photo credit: Janitors via / CC BY
Photo credit: Janitors via / CC BY

A new report from Pew Research Center investigates the various and seemingly inescapable ‘economies’ of today: shared, collaborative and on demand. It’s a thorough study of the scale of these trends in North America, with many insights relevant to the circular economy transition. Information is scarce when it comes to the correlation between shared car use and materials throughput, but Pew’s data suggests that ‘frequent ride-hailing users are less likely to own or drive a car, and more likely to use a range of other transit options’, with one-third of this segment not owning a personal vehicle, and more frequent use of bike and car sharing schemes.

The report also looks at home sharing, through services such as AirBnB, and crowdfunding platforms. On top of usage statistics, there’s also data on how much people are aware of or engaging with current debates around the safety, privacy and growth of these services. These insights on public perception could give clues to the future trajectory of these disruptive economic trends.

Another report worth checking out this week came from Professor Haim Mendelson via OpenMind, an initiative from banking group BBVA. ‘Business Models, Information Technology, and the Company of the Future’ looks at the ways in which developments in IT will fundamentally change the way business is conducted in the future, with the subjects of customisation, virtual identities and customer intimacy high on the agenda. With more innovative business models as a key building block of the transition to a circular economy, Mendelson’s article could be read with a circular economy lens to identify opportunities to leverage information technology and unlock even greater benefit for businesses, users and the wider economy.

Space Geckos

Fun fact of the day: in 2014 the Russian space agency sent five geckos into space on a ‘sex mission’. That might have been the first time this particular species actually left Earth’s atmosphere, but lately NASA have been studying geckos for an entirely different purpose.

Photo via Visualhunt
Photo via Visualhunt

Employing a biomimicry design approach, researchers have developed a robot that uses ‘tiny artificial hairs’ to grip onto surfaces, in the same way that geckos are able to scale smooth, vertical walls. New Scientist says that the ‘Gecko Gripper’ technology will ‘help astronauts to keep track of objects in zero gravity, and enable robots to crawl around a spacecraft to inspect and repair it’. This is just one example of a nature-inspired solution that could trump our previous alternatives – a gecko’s feet aren’t sticky and don’t use any sort of adhesive substance, but charged van der Waals forces enable the creature to pull of its climbing feats. And it’s not the first time that space exploration has led to experiments that could be relevant to the circular economy. The isolated environments of space stations and hypothetical extraterrestrial bases are the idea microcosm to force experts to consider energy and material flows. And perhaps it’s at this systems level – rather than with individual products – that biomimicry gets really interesting.

Circular economy on the horizon

On Sunday BBC World News aired a half-hour Horizons documentary on the circular economy. Coverage of this model has been increasing in recent months, but this program offers a more in-depth view, featuring conversations with Ellen MacArthur, business case studies such as Braiform, and new technologies on the recovery of rare earth elements.

Don’t wait too long to tune in – you’ve got until 7th June to catch up. Non-UK residents can view the episode on BBC World’s Horizons website, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has shared link for UK subscribers.

Tune in to CirculatePrint

Have you been following Circulate’s podcast series featuring interviews with expert authors from the recently released New Dynamic 2? If not, now’s your chance to get up to speed. The Circulate Podcast can now be found in the iTunes store, so subscribe to be notified of the latest episodes and re-visit the New Dynamic 2 series, covering topics such as Germany’s energy transition, regenerative agriculture and ecosystems as business inspiration.

The post Circulate on Fridays: Robot Space Geckos, Circular Economy on BBC and More appeared first on Circulate.

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Obama says memory of Hiroshima 'must never fade' | Daily briefing

Donald Trump crosses threshold to claim Republican nomination; another Berkeley student details sexual harassment; antibiotic resistance gene discovered in woman

Barack Obama visited Hiroshima on Friday, the first sitting US president to do so. “Seventy one years ago on a bright cloudless morning death fell from the sky and the world’s was changed,” he said, adding that the atomic bomb had “demonstrated that mankind held the means to destroy itself.” But Obama offered no apology for US use of the weapon, which is generally held to have brought about the end of the conflict in the Pacific. The president – who has campaigned for nuclear disarmament – laid a wreath at the stark concrete memorial arch in the Japanese city and said mankind’s “unmatched capacity for destruction” and its drive for “domination and conquest” came from the same source as its creativity and innovation. But the splitting of the atom also required a “moral revolution”, he said. “We can learn and choose, tell our children of a common humanity that makes war less likely.”

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Source: Guardian Environment

Chicken embryo tests can prevent practice of gassing billions of cockerels

Scientists create sex identification tests that can identify male chicks before they hatch

The current practice of gassing billions of male chicks within a day of hatching because they cannot lay eggs could be stopped thanks to a new embryo gender test.

Globally some 3.2 billion cockerels are killed within hours of breaking free of their eggs each year.

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Source: Guardian Environment

ExxonMobil is in its climate change bunker and won’t let reality in

Still stonewalling, the oil giant banned the Guardian from its AGM this week. But even its shareholders are starting to hear the gale-force winds blowing outside

When one of the world’s largest pension funds tells the biggest oil company on the planet that it faces an existential threat, there are stormy times ahead. The Guardian wanted to give you the latest weather report from inside ExxonMobil’s annual general meeting in Dallas on Wednesday, but the newspaper’s reporter was banned.

Related: Hypersensitive Exxon bans Guardian from AGM

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Source: Guardian Environment

Seven deadly poisons – and a law that won't protect you fast enough

Reform to toxic chemical regulation is the first for 40 years. Unfortunately, it won’t do enough to eliminate harmful substances from our lives

The US is set for the first legislation to regulate toxic industrial chemicals in 40 years.

You might think this would be cause for celebration. However, the bill updating the Toxic Substances Control Act continues to put the industry’s interests above those of the public. It does make some improvements, such as requiring new chemicals to be safe before being sold and giving the Environmental Protection Agency the power to demand safety data. But on balance, it does too little to protect Americans from chemicals that cause cancer and nervous system disorders, impaired fertility, immune system dysfunction and a host of other health problems.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Meteorologists are seeing global warming's effect on the weather | Paul Douglas

Weather is becoming more extreme, and meteorologists are taking notice

Whatever happened to normal weather? Earth has always experienced epic storms, debilitating drought, and biblical floods. But lately it seems the treadmill of disruptive weather has been set to fast-forward. God’s grandiose Symphony of the Seasons, the natural ebb and flow of the atmosphere, is playing out of tune, sounding more like a talent-free second grade orchestra, with shrill horns, violins screeching off-key, cymbal crashes coming in at the wrong time. Something has changed.

My company, AerisWeather, tracks global weather for Fortune 500 companies trying to optimize supply chains, increase profitability, secure facilities, and ensure the safety of their employees and customers. It’s my 4th weather-technology company. Our team is constantly analyzing patterns, providing as much lead-time of impending weather extremes as possible. As a serial entrepreneur I respond to data, facts and evidence. If I spin the data and only see what I want to see, I go out of business. I lay off good people. I can’t afford to look away when data makes me uncomfortable.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Swaziland acting as 'puppet' to South Africa in bid to legalise rhino horn trade

Top conservationists criticise the proposal – announced just days after neighbouring South Africa dropped its bid for legal trade – saying it will open the gates for a black market

Swaziland has been accused by one of the world’s leading conservationists of being a puppet of South Africa in a bid to open the floodgates to a potentially calamitous legal rhino horn trade.

South Africa appointed a committee to study the idea of trading horn internationally, which has been banned for more than four decades, but the government backed away from such a proposal in April.

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Source: Guardian Environment