Commercial textile waste from Textile Shredding or Recycling is a valuable product

Commercial textile waste can be sold and used as a basis to produce new products. In daily life, lots of products are made of textile, like clothes, curtains, bedding, mattresses, blankets, carpet and more. This makes the textile waste a very valuable product for recycling.

The collected waste material is firstly sorted and graded, wearable textiles like clothing and shoes (if in decent condition) are collected and resold to Third World countries. Unwearable textiles can be cut into cleaning rags or shredded into small pieces. These pieces can be used for spinning, weaving and knitting or compressed and re-used for the production of mattresses. Shredded textile can also be recycled into paper or redeveloped into fuel.

GEP ECOTECH provides a wide range of high-quality shredders (rubber, wood, paper, metal, or plastic), waste, and recycling plants. Durable and reliable with the highest European quality.

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In May the charity “Plantlife” were encouraging Garden owners not to cut lawns

A British conservation charity “Plantlife” is urging councils and gardeners to keep their lawns uncut over May to let wild plants thrive and provide food and shelter for insects.

Every Flower Counts

As similar campaigns in the previous years were very successful, where thousands of participants did not mow their gardens for a month.

Last year, over 250 wild plant species were recorded in the survey among the participants, including wild strawberry, wild garlic, adder’s-tongue fern, meadow saxifrage and eyebright, as well as many species of orchids. The results underline how embracing a little more wildness in our gardens can be a boon for plants, butterflies and bees. After May, people are asked to mow less throughout the summer and preferably leave at least a part of their garden untouched. Also, plants that are considered weeds should be welcomed in the gardens as, for example, dandelions can produce a significant amount of nectar to sustain a large number of insects compared with other flowers.

Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) announces food waste and packaging sustainability study

The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) has announced a new sustainability-driven project, partnered with Ameripen (the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment) and Michigan State University, which will focus on the consumer relationship between packaging and food waste

According to a release, the objective of this research will be to collect data and gain an understanding of the relationship between packaging and household food waste. The project will explore how consumers use packaging in the home before and after food waste measurement. It will also analyse the research findings and identify where more information is needed to recommend potential solutions to leverage the value of packaging to decrease household consumer food waste.

Apparently, Human behaviour is one of the largest factors that impact waste generation and disposal.

Food packaging design and functionality are critical elements that shape consumer perception of how food is managed inside the household. That perception can be a driving factor in subsequent behaviours that influence the amount of food waste generated.

So It is critical to increase the understanding of the interaction between perception, food packaging and food waste generation so to better equip consumers and manufacturers alike in our quest to reduce food waste. EREF is proud to partner with Ameripen and Michigan State University to conduct this study and focus on the intersection between food packaging and a more sustainable future for our environment.

In 2016 ReFED identified packaging as a key instrument in reducing food waste within North America. A Swedish study estimated 25 percent of household food waste could be reduced by improving the consumer relationship with packaging—either because the consumer removes products from packaging upon arrival home, they fail to properly seal packaging or packaging is inadequately designed to help them reduce waste.

By better quantifying the relationship between consumers, packaging and household food waste, we believe we can help inform strategies to reduce wasted food and the subsequent greenhouse gas emission resulting from this loss. The promise of this collaborative provides an opportunity not only to collect much needed scientific data, but also to leverage insights from this data into meaningful action and change.

Statutory Sick Pay Changes Came Into Effect on 24th March 2022

Businesses need to prepare for two major changes concerning statutory sick pay (SSP), which took effect on 24 March.

Firstly, SSP will return to pre-pandemic rules whereby it will only be payable from day four of illness, rather than day one. People who are off sick with COVID-19 will still be able to get SSP if they qualify, as it will be treated like any other sickness. Employees are entitled to £96.35 per week SSP if they are too ill to work, paid by their employer for up to 28 weeks.

Employers need to inform their staff of this upcoming change and update their sick policies in accordance. This removal of the day one right to receive SSP for COVID-19 absences may pose some challenges for employers. In England, there is no longer a legal requirement to self-isolate in positive cases, but employers may still wish to encourage their staff to stay at home in the interest of health and safety. However, when faced with the prospect of three days without pay, employees may be unwilling to disclose their test results. Some employers may want to offer enhanced sick pay to encourage employees to self-isolate instead of relying solely on SSP. A robust self-isolation policy that includes the company’s stance on sick pay is essential.

The second change is to the SSP Rebate Scheme. Currently, employers with fewer than 250 employees can recoup up to two weeks’ SSP for each employee who is off sick with a COVID-19-related absence between 21 December 2021 and 17 March 2022.

This scheme closed on 24 March and employers will have to take on these costs themselves. The rebate scheme has been of particular help to smaller businesses that have faced widespread absences owing to the pandemic. With the legal requirement to self-isolate lifted, it is anticipated that business operations will start to return to normal pre-pandemic levels. But there are question marks for those employers who will still require their staff to isolate in COVID-19-positive cases as they will have to take on the associated costs of SSP from day four of absence. They may even wish to consider offering enhanced sick pay to encourage employees to self-isolate.

Stormy weather: By employers making alternative working arrangements for Employees

Storms have caused significant travel disruptions across the UK in the last week. Train services were cancelled or suspended in some parts of the country and roads were affected by falling trees, debris and vehicles toppling over. With travel so disrupted, it was impossible for some workers to get to work. As more bad weather is predicted in the coming days, it would be prudent for employers to check their legal position in relation to employees who are unable to get to work and to ensure their policy is well communicated. 

Workers may be concerned about travelling into work and some employers will have concerns about staff absences impacting their productivity and performance.

  • There is no automatic legal right for employees to be paid for working time missed due to travel disruption or bad weather.
  • Employees have the right to take unpaid time off in an emergency situation that involves a dependent – this can include looking after children because their school has closed due to bad weather.
  • If an employee is ready and available to work but their place of work is closed then they will usually be entitled to normal pay.

Rather than employees not being able to work at all during the bad weather, it’s worth considering changing working patterns, allowing staff to work from home or requesting staff to work at another location. 

  • Allow workers to come in a little later than usual if the travel disruption or weather is expected to improve.
  • Offer workers who can get into work the opportunity to swap shifts or work overtime.
  • Suggest flexible working to allow workers to make up any lost working time or allow workers to take the time off as paid annual leave.

Consider having a bad weather or travel disruption policy that includes contact arrangements, alternative forms of working and what happens with staff pay if a worker is unable to get into work.

Computer mouse is the dirtiest place in the office

The long-term effects of the pandemic have meant that businesses are all becoming more conscious of keeping communal areas safe for workers returning to the office. With many office workers returning to the workplace, at least on a flexible basis over the past few months, it is important to understand the danger areas for harbouring germs and bacteria. And can, in some environments, be a matter of life and death. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the issue of cleanliness into sharp relief, particularly regarding surfaces where the virus might be transmitted.

The research has revealed just how important it is to keep office environments clean, using quality products multiple times a day to minimise risk. It is recommended that wiping down areas such as kettles and kitchen spaces after every use to stop the spread of bacteria and keep build-up of cells to a minimum, and ensuring everyone in communal spaces has access to effective and easy to use cleaning products.

It was no surprise that touchpoints that are contacted by multiple people and warm, humid environments, such as the kettle, are a breeding ground.

The main touchpoints were swabbed in offices to test for aerobic bacteria, yeast and mould. The swabs were then incubated and tested to find the amount of colony-forming units per cm2, revealing the worst offending areas for high levels of viable bacteria and fungal cells. 

The germ hotspots of the office as revealed by the study were: 

  1. Computer mouse (580 combined colony forming units)
  2. Kettle (336.6 combined colony forming units)
  3. Fridge (295 combined colony forming units)
  4. Laptop (264.8 combined colony forming units)
  5. Bathroom lock (188 combined colony forming units)
  6. Hand sanitiser bottle (175.5 combined colony forming units)
  7. Printer (100.5 combined colony forming units)
  8. Light switch (99 combined colony forming units)
  9. Desk phone (96.5 combined colony forming units)
  10. Kitchen cupboard (67.9 combined colony forming units

Potentially the most common touch point in the office is the desk but, compared to other areas, the desk swab actually produced the lowest amount of combined colony forming units, 4.8 in total. That’s a staggering 120 times less bacteria, yeast and mould than found on the computer mouse making it the dirtiest touchpoint in the office.

On the fridge, a staggering 130 colonies of bacteria were present on the swab sample, making it one of the most infectious areas in the workplace. 

Other key areas that saw a high level of germs and bacteria included a laptop, bathroom lock and hand sanitiser bottle. The hand sanitiser bottle came top for the level of mould formation following the incubation period. 

Interestingly, the toilet seat did not even make the top ten germ hotspots, with the toilet swab actually producing 11 times less combined colony forming units than a computer mouse. 

Barely any change to gender earnings gap in 25 years

The average working-age woman in the UK earned 40% less than her male counterpart in 2019. This is because, among 20- to 55-year-olds not in education, long-term sick or retired:

  • Women are 9.5 percentage points less likely to be in paid work at all (83.5% of women and 93% of men).
  • Women do eight fewer hours of paid work per week than men if they are employed (34 per week on average rather than 42).
  • Women in paid work earn 19% less per hour on average (£13.20 rather than £16.30).

The 40% earnings gap is about 13 percentage points, or 25%, lower than in the mid-1990s. But over three-quarters of the reduction in the earnings gap over the past 25 years can be explained by the rapid increase in women’s educational attainment. Women of working age have gone from being five percentage points less likely, to five percentage points more likely, to have a university degree than men. 

This suggests that it is only because of the increase in women’s educational attainment that there has been any meaningful progress in closing the gender earnings gap. The additional combined effect on the gender earnings gap of other changes in the economy, society and policy, including additional public support for childcare for example, has been comparatively small.

These are among the key findings of new research on gender inequalities undertaken for the IFS Deaton Review of Inequalities, funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

  • Comparing the amount earned per hour between women and men in paid work – the typical measure of the ‘gender pay gap’ – reveals a gap of around 19%, down from 24% in 1995 and 20.5% in 2005. This gap has fallen by only a tiny amount since 2005 despite the increase in women’s educational attainment over that period.
  • In a big break from the past, the hourly wage gap between men and women is now bigger for those with degrees or A-level-equivalent qualifications than for those with lower education. It used to be that gender differences in hourly wages were especially large among less-well-educated workers. The introduction of, and increases to, the UK’s minimum wage have been an important factor in helping low-paid women. More highly educated women have not made comparable progress.
  • Gender gaps in employment and hours increase substantially immediately upon parenthood. Gaps in hourly wages open up more slowly after childbirth as the impacts of women switching to more family-friendly but lower-paying occupations combine with the ‘part-time penalty’ to slow their wage progression.

Gender gaps in paid and unpaid work seem to be driven by deep-seated social norms and expectations. Interventions that change established norms, perhaps through an accumulation of policies which consistently point in the same direction towards less radically different gender roles, could have transformative effects.

There are large costs to the nation as a whole associated with the status quo. Even expensive policies, such as much more widely available free childcare, could eventually pay for themselves if they successfully ensure that the talents of both men and women are put to their most productive uses, whether in the labour market or at home.


New climate disclosure framework launched to help SMEs on road to net-zero

CDP and the SME Climate Hub have launched a new framework to help SMEs measure, report and reduce their climate impacts, amid growing concerns that they are facing numerous decarbonisation barriers that do not impact large firms as much.

SMEs account for around half of employment – and half of business-related emissions – globally

Launched on 25th November, the tool is called the SME Climate Disclosure Framework and will help SMEs in all sectors to measure and report their own direct (Scope 1), power-related (Scope 2) and indirect (Scope 3) emissions. Also included in the tool are the definitions for more complex emissions and climate terminology, plus tailored advice for reducing emissions in line with climate science, taking into account SMEs’ size and sector.

The Exponential Roadmap Initiative and Normative contributed to the development of the tool, alongside CDP and the SME Climate Hub.

The creators of the framework have stated that more and more SME suppliers are being asked to measure, report and decrease their emissions by the large companies who source from them. Corporates are increasingly setting Scope 3 targets and, indeed, will need to do so to have targets verified in line with 1.5C or Net-Zero by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).

Currently, around 1,800 SMEs disclose climate information through CDP. It is hoped that the new framework will help to increase uptake. The SME Climate Hub covers some 3,000 businesses and has stated that it will use the framework as a “foundation” for simplifying reporting tools on its site.

The framework being developed is free and modular, meaning that SMEs can complete as many or as few sections in one sitting as they want to. However, there are some minimum reporting requirements. A draft version was tested earlier this year.

Fluorostore Discusses the Role of Fluoropolymers in the Food and Beverage Industry

The most common types of fluoropolymers found in the beverage and food industry are types of FEP, PFA, and PTFE products. A lot of these are utilized in the products that help keep things like food conveyor belts clean. Cleanliness is obviously of huge importance in the food industry. In addition to cleanliness, these fluoropolymers are often utilized in different coatings on heat lamps to prevent them from shattering at high temperatures. 

General purpose plastics are unable to withstand many common conditions within a facility that produces mass quantities of food and drink. Take for instance, the importance of the integrity of the wiring within a conveyor belt. In some cases, extreme temperatures call upon wiring to stand up to the heat – and at others they call upon wires to stand up to the cold. Wiring wrapped in general purpose plastic would deteriorate rapidly, exposing the food to everything it touches that it should not be touching.

Fluoropolymers can withstand extreme temperatures and keep important wires secure. The same logic can be applied to weather as well. Greenhouses rely on sprinkler systems and other tools that may be exposed to weather. It’s imperative that plastics are leveraged that are resistant to weather and can withstand common corrosion issues.

Cosmetics giants team up to create environmental scorecards for product labelling

Unilever, L’Oreal, Henkel, LVMH and Body Shop owner Natura & Co have begun a new collaboration to develop an industry-wide system for measuring and communicating the environmental impacts of products to consumers.

Other brands across the health, beauty and cosmetics sectors are being encouraged to join the new initiative, which is called the Eco-Beauty Score Consortium and is being supported by industry body Cosmetics Europe.

The founding companies have outlined their principles for developing the scoring system. It will be brand-agnostic; will require all participating firms to use a common, science-based methodology; will disclose environmental impact information relating to product formula, product use and packaging; and will be clear and easy-to-understand.

The methodology for calculating the environmental impacts of products will be based in the European Union’s Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) principles. This methodology was first piloted between 2013 and 2016 and the EU is mulling its introduction as a legal requirement for some sectors producing consumer-facing goods.

Once the environmental impacts of key ingredients and raw materials are calculated, the information will be stored in a database shared between all participating firms. This helps to ensure comparable scores and will minimise the resources each company will need to allocate to the activity.

The final scores will be communicated to customers using grades, with ‘A’ being the best and ‘E’ being the poorest.

L’Oreal has already started using this approach. The firm’s owned brand Garnier launched a digital tool grading products on their environmental footprint, from A to E, earlier this year.

Government funnels £91m into ultra-fast charging projects and extended-range EVs

Projects that increase the range of electric vehicles (EVs), create batteries that can charge in as little as 12 minutes and hydrogen-powered heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) have all been awarded a share of £91m from the UK Government.

BMW has been awarded £26.2m to develop EVs that rival the driving range of current internal combustion engines, while the Project CELERITAS in Birmingham has been awarded almost £10m to create ultra-fast charging batteries for electric and fuel cell hybrid vehicles that can charge in as little as 12 minutes.

Additionally, the BRUNEL project in Darlington, which aims to develop hydrogen engines for HGVs has been awarded £14.6m and the REEcorner initiative has received £41.2m to redesign light and commercial EVS in Nuneaton to improve autonomous driving capabilities and storage.

The Government claims that together, the four projects could save almost 32 million tonnes of carbon emissions while generating more than 2,700 jobs across the UK!

Business Basics: Health and safety compliance

No matter what business you’re in, complying with health and safety law is a must when you’re working for yourself so that you stay on the right side of the law. Whether you’re growing your business and wondering how your health and safety obligations might change, or you want a refresher on the important things to remember.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the key legislation relating to occupational health and safety in England, Wales and Scotland. It outlines the duties you have as an employer towards your employees and the public, in addition to the duties employees have towards themselves and each other. It also relates to the self-employed. All employers must be compliant with health and safety rules, or your business may face fines or even prosecution. Failing to follow regulations puts everyone at greater risk. Not only is it the law, but non-compliance can be costly. Without effective risk management strategies in place, you may increase your chances of claims against you. Whether it’s slips and trips or accidents with tools, it’s essential to take steps to improve your risk management

What are the most common causes of liability claims?

1) Accidents with machinery, tools or materials
For some businesses, working with machinery and tools is part and parcel of the job, so it’s essential to stay safe.

2) Slips and trips
No matter where you operate, slips and trips are a common risk, from spillages on the shop floor to wires in the office corridors.

3) Struck by object/person
According to the Health and Safety Executive, being injured by a moving object, like a falling object or a cut from a hand knife, accounts for over 10% of major injuries reported in the food and drink industry alone.

4) Lifting
If you or your employees need to lift heavy objects from A to B, following the correct precautions can help to prevent injuries.

It doesn’t have to be risky business with workplace health and safety advice from legal experts, as well as online documentation and on-demand training, you’re in safe hands