Manchester's Green King and Queen

A couple from Hulme have won £1500 to spend on energy or wasyte saving work on their house after making great changes to help tackle climate change. Alan and Shelley Heckman lowered their energy and water consumption over eight months whilst taking part in MAnchester’s Eco-Diet Challenge.

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The Community Recycling Network

It can be hard disposing of waste sensibly and ethically. No matter how well meaning, your local council is likely to send you round in circles trying to find the right department or service. However, there are a lot of community based programmes out there that make creative use of the things everyday folks leave behind.

The Community Recycling Network tries to keep track of all these groups, allowing you to search by various criteria for the one best suited. They also produce rather nice directories, I picked up the Community Waste Network North West one on Saturday at the Green Architecture event.

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Supermarkets against excess packaging? Who'd have thought

Asda are setting up a pilot scheme where they will collect examples of over packaging from customers to build a case to present to their suppliers. The Daily Mail is supporting it because they think it will mean a return to weekly refuse collections.

I try to buy as much as possible from the local grocers, which reduces waste quite substantially. I just need to remember to take my backpack with me so they don’t put everything into a carrier bag.

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Charging for waste

The Local Government Association are proposing schemes to cut the amount of domestic waste. One possibility is to charge households more if they throw more stuff out. This will only work if there’s a baseline amount of rubbish removal covered by Council Tax with rebates for those who produce less and charges for tose who produce more. And it wouldn’t be the easiest thing to police.

A better idea, also hinted at, is to cut the amount of unnecessary material entering the house in the first place- fining manufacturers and shops whose products are over-packaged.

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It's A Green Christmas In This Town

(Cross posted from Spinneyhead)

Manchester City Council have some statistics on waste this Christmas, plus some ideas on how to cut it down (mostly by carefully choosing what to buy, which might be a little late for most of you) and some guidance on what can be recycled.

If you live in Manchester, the link to the recycling centres around Manchester and what each one accepts is also useful.

(Title taken from Green Christmas by Barenaked Ladies)

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Biomass for the lazy

Bixby Energy Systems have developed a pellets stove that can burn almost anything. The trick is in formulating the pellets to burn at a given temperature and company founder Bob Walker has done just that. This means that pellets can be made from local waste materials, keeping the supply chain short. He has even developed a hopper system to automate the transfer of fuel to the burner for the really lazy. Wired article.

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Biodiesel from Algae

Biodiesel and ethanol could be vital parts of the switch from oil dependency, but some of the current means of producing them are too energy intensive and damaging in their own right. PetroSun Drilling Inc. has created a subsidiary- Algae BioFuels Inc.- to research and develop algae cultivation as an energy source in the production of biodiesel. Studies have demonstrated that algae is capable of producing 30 times more oil per acre than the crops currently grown for biofuel production and the resulting fuel is low sulphur, non-toxic and biodegradable.

If they can find a way to break down waste products to provide nutrients, that would be even better.

via Treehugger

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The end of cheap waste

Peter Jones, a director of Biffa- Britain’s largest waste handling company, says that tighter EU recycling laws and higher landfill taxes will cost up to £8bn within years.

“The days of chucking waste into holes in the ground are over and the future is hi-tech, efficient, but fiendishly expensive. Instead of chucking 75% of everything we have finished with down a hole for about £12 a tonne, within a few years very little will be landfilled and that will cost two or three times what it costs now. We expect it to cost Britain £5-8bn to deliver an 80% diversion from landfill. Everyone is in for a rude shock.”

Efficient and fiendishly expensive? I can’t help thinking he’s missing a bit of joined up thinking and hasn’t considered the money making potential of closing the manufacturing cycle with recycling.

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Conspicuous Consumption

Chris Jordan’s photos portray the effects of mass consumption. The near abstract piles of crushed cars, discarded phones and unwanted circuit boards have a certain abstract beauty about them, even when you understand the waste and destruction they represent.

Via BoingBoing (I think the increase in traffic is putting a big strain on the server.)

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Green Queen

Windsor Castle is to get its own hydro-power system.

A spokeswoman for the Queen said: “We’re constantly looking at ways of saving energy. We use energy efficient light bulbs at Buckingham Palace and recycle 99 per cent of green waste.”

Members of the Royal Family have long embraced an environmentally friendly lifestyle. The Duke of Edinburgh uses a taxi cab fuelled by liquid petroleum gas to travel around London, and water in a bore hole at Buckingham Palace is used to supply air conditioning to the Queen’s gallery before topping up the water levels in the Palace lake.

The electricity from the new plant will be fed straight into Windsor Castle and not into the local grid. It will be the biggest of its kind in the South of England. Four turbines, which will be built by npower renewables, will be submerged in two of Romney Weir’s bays.

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