Global temperatures could stabilize in decades

New research from scientists indicates that if net-zero emissions were achieved that a climate disaster could be stopped.

For a long time, it has been assumed that any achievement of net-zero would take generations to see progress, but in more recent times scientists have discovered that warming may be more quickly reversed.

The race to zero emissions by 2050 by over 100 countries with many of them signed into law would be a good start to turning back some of the damage done.

Our actions have a direct and immediate impact on surface warming.

A small increase in global average surface temperature occurring since the pre-industrial era (1880-1900) means a significant increase in accumulated heat.

A previous paper on “committed warming” also warned about the current trends, but if emissions are cut rapidly, temperature rises could be slowed and take centuries. This would leave more time for technologies to be developed. The timescale is important. For all of this to be achieved, one thing seems to be agreed, the world must become net zero as soon as possible.

Employment law post-Brexit: what can we expect?

All EU-derived employment law and directly effective EU employment legislation has continued to apply to the UK during the implementation period, and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has continued to have jurisdiction in the UK, but this all comes to an end in less than a month, after the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. 

What to expect in 2021? 
So, what changes to UK employment law can we expect? It has been suggested that a number of changes could be on the horizon:

  • A cap could be introduced on discrimination awards.
  • Trade union recognition could be made more difficult and it is likely that there will be further restrictions on strikes in the transport sector.
  • Changes could be made to the Working Time Regulations, including the right of workers on long-term sick leave to accrue holiday and carry over unused holiday entitlement to the next leave year, limiting holiday pay to basic pay and abolishing the 48-hour limit on working time.
  • Rights under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) could be reduced. For example, it could become easier to harmonise terms and conditions or to dismiss employees on a transfer. Service provision changes could also be taken out of the scope of TUPE.
  • Protection for agency workers could be reduced.

Employers will be waiting with bated breath for news of any developments regarding a trade deal with the EU, as will so many businesses that have been navigating through uncertainty over the past four years, exacerbated this year by the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought its own set of challenges. 

The 2020 Health & Safety statistics

There are thousands of accidents in the workplace every year. Statistics from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) for 2019/20.

Statistics show 111 workers were killed at work. 65,427 injuries were reported under Riddor. An estimated 38.8 million working days were lost due to workplace injury.

The HSE completed 325 prosecution cases and secured a conviction. And 7,075 enforcement notices & 35.8 fines resulting from prosecutions taken were issued by HSE and local authorities.

13,000 deaths each year estimated to be linked to past exposure at work.

Work-related ill health Rate (per 100,000) workers

Industries with ill health rates statistically significantly higher than the rate for all industries were public administration/defence and human health/ social work.

Workplace Injury rate (per 100,000 workers)

Agriculture, forestry and fishing and Construction gad statistically significantly higher injury rates than for all industries.

An effective health and safety management system will help to reduce the risk of work-related ill health and injury. Failing to manage health and safety properly can be far more costly to you than getting it right in the first place.

“The ‘new commute’ – is an employee’s home their official place of work?”

With the rise of homeworking in the wake of the coronavirus crisis is creating issues for fleets when it comes to classifying journeys.

Describing the problem as the “new commute,” revolve around whether an employee’s home is now officially their place of work.

If someone is working from home rather than the office, then it raises the question of which is actually their place of work. This is important when it comes to both expenses and risk management.

 For example, if someone now drives their own car to the office once a week, are they allowed to reclaim their travel costs using AMAP rates, as they would for any other business journey that they undertake?

The other major issue is whether, if someone now uses their own car to travel from home to work, whether that is now seen as a business journey from a risk management point of view, rather a commute.

Ordinarily, driving at work includes any person who drives as part of their work, either in their own car or a company vehicle. Commuting to and from work does not count as driving at work.

The HMRC rules in this area were often inconsistently applied. Normally, they were based on the employee’s contract of employment showing that they were home-based but there was also a reasonableness test, to ensure that the employee is working from home rather than the office for a proportionally greater length of time.

As always with points of taxation, it is better to have hard and fast rules but these are open to local interpretation and fleets can potentially suffer from a lack of uniformity.

Any employees who work from home for the majority of time but sometimes visit the office using their own vehicles have, strictly speaking, all become grey fleet – and should be subject to all the usual grey fleet management practices.

This needs the Health and Safety Executive clarification.

Plastic bag use continues to fall in England

Since the introduction of the 5p charge for plastic bags in supermarkets back in 2015, there has been a 95% drop in sales of single-use carrier bags reported by main supermarkets.

In this last year alone there has been a 59% fall in the sale of single-use carrier bags. According to Government data, 226 million bags were sold in the past 12 months across Asda, Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer and the Co-operative Group. This total is 332 million bags fewer than in 2018-2019. Whilst this further fall in the sale of single-use plastic bags is welcomed there is still much work to be done to address the environmental issues caused by plastic waste.

It is encouraging to see in such a short space of time the huge difference our plastic carrier bag charge has had in reducing the amount of plastic we use in our everyday lives. We have all seen first hand the devastating impact that plastic bags have on the environment, littering our beautiful countryside and threatening the world’s marine life.

Sales of plastic carrier bags are down by 322m, which is positive and sounds a lot, but sales of ‘bags for life’ rose to 1.5bn in 2018. And bags for life contain more plastic than carrier bags do. To deter people from using bags for life like throwaways, the Government should increase the cost of bags for life, which successfully led to decreased sales in the Republic of Ireland, or ideally should ban them.”

With UK supermarkets using 900,000 tonnes of plastic, we urgently need reductions in plastic packaging across every aisle of the supermarket, as well as at checkout.

How the Pandemic has Changed How Much we Recycle at Home

In addition to the incredible health, economic, and social changes in our country, our nation’s supply chain has been drastically altered by the pandemic.

Many of us have also had to adjust to new household routines.  Some people have found themselves unemployed, furloughed, or working from home.  Most children have been out of school since March and may not be returning in September.  We are bulking up on packaged goods, food, and beverages more, while traveling and eating out less.

Because we are staying home more, that means we are also consuming more products at home instead of in restaurants, bars, stores, etc. Where recyclable items at restaurants like cardboard and aluminum were once being recycled in larger volumes, they are now being brought home and possibly thrown in the waste stream. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, The average U.S. household has seen an increase of nearly 25% in waste being put on the curb each week.

Now, imagine what that could mean for the supply chain and the environment if people don’t do their part to recycle even the most basic commodities while at home!

Online ordering has soared during the pandemic, creating a large increase in the number of boxes thrown out by families every week.

4 Easy Items to Recycle At Home

We can all do our part to make sure that the items that can be recycled find their way to the correct part of the waste collector’s truck. If you are new to recycling, here are some basic items to look for and separate for your local waste collector that will make you a recycling superhero in your community:

Cardboard Boxes – Most residential dustbin collectors will pick up cardboard for recycling.  Be sure yours is separated from other commodities, break down the boxes so they are flat, and keep them from being soiled by fluids, food, or other contaminants.

Plastic Bottles– Bottled water and sports drinks are commonly bottled using PET. Rinse the bottles out and separate them with your recyclables.

High-density polyethylene (or HDPE) plastic  – Other squeeze bottles are made with HDPE.  Be sure to rinse these thoroughly and make sure your local recycler actually can use these items in their processes. 

Plastic bags should not be thrown in with recyclables.  Take them back to your local store to deposit there, or better yet, reuse them in your own future shopping.

Aluminum Cans – People are buying more packaged drinks in larger quantities, severely depleting the aluminum can supply chain.  Now that most aluminum producers are back operating at near or full capacity, we can do our part to make sure our pop and beer cans find their way to our recycling bin

Keeping Our Earth Sustainable for Generations

All of these factors have changed how much we recycle at home.  Now, more than ever, we need to be vigilant in our recycling efforts, not only to help the supply chain recover more quickly, but also to make sure we are taking care of the environment for generations to come.

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Green groups express disappointment in Boris Johnson’s ‘New Deal’ recovery package

Key members of the UK’s green economy have been offering their thoughts on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Covid-19 recovery package, the fundamentals of which have now been unveiled. The general feeling is one of dismay, following months of campaigning.

In a speech delivered in the West Midlands on 30th June 2020, Boris Johnson unveiled an initial £5bn for infrastructure and skills projects across the UK. He vowed to “build, build, build” and bring about a “New Deal” for the nation, in which the rebound from the economic crisis borne of the Covid-19 pandemic addresses key social issues.

But the New Deal is far from “Green”, key NGOs, think-tanks, trade bodies and thought leaders are warning.

Johnson has received a string of policy briefings and open letters in recent weeks, urging him to align the recovery package with the UK’s net-zero target and to prioritise funding for sectors spurring the low-carbon transition or working to protect nature. He and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have repeatedly assured the authors of such documents, as well as MPs, journalists and the general public, that policies to boost the manufacture of low-carbon goods and to decarbonise the nation’s most-emitting sectors would form a “vital” part of the Government’s recovery strategy.

Now, key figures are accusing Johnson and Sunak of overstating their “green” commitments and calling for better environmental provisions to be unveiled by the Treasury in July.

The key concerns which the package has raised across the UK’s green economy.

Poor provisions for retrofitting

Buildings account for around 40% of global emissions and one-third of energy use in the UK and, while improved standards for new housing and business properties are forthcoming, the UK Government has repeatedly been accused of failing to support the decarbonisation of existing stock.

The Department for Education has this week outlined a £1bn package to retrofit schools, but Students Organising for Sustainability claims that £23bn would be necessary to ensure that all schools are net-zero by 2030.

A lack of movement on heat and flexible energy

11 months ago, Citizens Advice warned that the Government’s failure to implement a “credible” framework for the decarbonisation of heat for commercial and domestic use could undermine public confidence in the net-zero transition.

Poor clarity on skills

Up to 2.2 million Brits could face unemployment unless the UK’s Covid-19 recovery package contains measures to reskill them for “green-collar” roles.

The UK Government was reportedly set to launch a dedicated fund for reskilling Brits to work in the renewable energy, cleantech and built environment sectors, coupled with additional investment in these sectors to assist with their expansion. The Conservative Party is notably targeting two million “green-collar” jobs in the UK by 2030.

Jobs, skills and infrastructure are core to the UK’s green recovery. Building ahead of need so that electric vehicles can be rolled out at pace, gas can be greened and industry can be decarbonised, creating the green collar jobs that will keep the UK at the front of the fight against climate change.

“The Prime Minister’s speech rightly identifies the importance of ‘building back greener’ but this has to be rapidly backed up by support for shovel-ready projects and policy decisions that are aligned with the UK’s climate, environmental and clean growth goals,” Aldersgate Group director Nick Molho added. “Such an approach is not just needed to meet the UK’s environmental ambitions, but it is also essential to ensure that the UK’s recovery plan can address key public interest concerns around unemployment, regional inequality and resilience.

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WWF: Major consumer goods giants only sourcing 8% recycled plastics

McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Keurig Dr Pepper and Procter & Gamble (P&G) collectively source 4.3 million metric tonnes of plastic annually, of which just 8% comes from recycled feedstocks.

The new report from WWF, released on Monday (8 June) to mark World Oceans Day.

Entitled ‘Transparent 2020’, the report tracks the plastics footprint of each of these five corporates, all founding members of the NGO’s ‘ReSource: Plastic’ initiative, to mark the scheme’s first anniversary. Under the scheme, corporate members are given access to a digital platform which enables them to develop specific actions on the road to reaching their long-term, large-scale ambitions to reduce their reliance on single-use plastics.

The platform is laid out across three key pillars, namely maximising, measuring and multiplying the impact which can be achieved if corporates “correctly” implement ambitious plastic plans.

The new report details how each of the five companies has used the digital tools and WWF’s other support to measure and manage their plastics footprint, and what the data collected reveals about the systematic challenges in the plastics industry.

It reveals that all five of the assessed companies are exploring refillable or reusable packaging systems to replace as much as 20% of their current portfolios, and have set time-bound, numerical targets for increasing both the recyclability of their packaging and the amount of recycled plastics they source.

Unanimous difficulty in making rapid progress against the latter of these aims, WWF concluded, points to systemic challenges in recycling infrastructure, collection systems and supply chains.

In order to address these challenges, the NGO is calling on ReSource members to set internal measures which disincentivise the use of virgin plastic and to collaborate in industry-wide lobbying for policies which will promote the availability and adoption of recycled content – such as the incoming requirements in the EU and the UK for plastic products to incorporate at least 30% recycled content, or face higher levels of tax.

The report also urges ReSource members to accelerate efforts to remove small, hard-to-recycle plastics such as straws and stirrers from their global portfolios; to work with industry bodies to boost plastic recycling rates in the US, currently stagnating around 9% and to develop ‘action plans’ for minimizing plastic pollution in the worst-affected nations, such as Mexico, China, India and the Philippines. Along with the US, the report reveals, 57.4% of the plastics from the analysed companies that are then landfilled end up in these geographies.

On the latter recommendation, WWF urges corporates to collaborate with each other, NGOs, conservation groups and policymakers rather than working alone. Such partnerships can help ensure strong environmental and social standards, prevent unintended consequences and bring about broader change, the report concludes.

Bio-based plastics, which account for up to 11.3% of the analysed corporates’ packaging portfolios, also receive detailed analysis and recommendations. WWF warns members against shifting to bioplastics without prioritising and investing in recycled stocks, and against sourcing bioplastics in a way which is not one-planet compatible. For example, some bioplastics require huge amounts of land and water to produce, or are not easily recyclable or degradable, undoing, on balance, any benefits of displacing virgin fossil-based materials.



Lockdown sees global emissions fall by 17%

New research has suggested that daily global carbon emissions recorded in April 2020 were 17% lower compared to the same month last year, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic and forced lockdowns and postponement in production.

The empty streets of London as a result of the lockdown, which is only starting to be lifted in the country

New research published (19 May) in the journal Nature Climate Change has revealed that daily recordings of carbon emissions across the globe were 17% lower compared to April 2019.

The research notes that annual emissions could fall by 7% if lockdown restrictions remain in place. But with nations already kick starting the reopening of certain parts of the economy, and the UK on course to life more lockdown measures in June, the researchers claim that the annual decline in emissions would reach 4%. In contrast, emissions had been rising by around 1% in previous years. 

Some countries, such as China, have recorded emissions reductions of around 25% and the decline in the UK reached around 31% for the month of April.

Coronavirus and globalisation: What next for supply chain sustainability?

Covid-19 has brought global economies to a standstill and knocked the confidence in global and connected trade. Would businesses benefit from pivoting to more localised value chains, or do global supply chains enable a global shift towards a climate-resilient future?

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on international commerce has been described as “ugly”. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has forecasted declines in international trade and commerce of between 13% to 32% this year.

Impacts to trade through transportation limits and production slowdown are impacting business productivity, with 94% of the Fortune 1000 seeing supply chain disruptions. Elsewhere, a survey conducted by the Institute For Supply Chain Management last month, found that 75% of companies are reporting supply chain disruptions due to impacts of the coronavirus.

Many manufacturers are now jostling to shift the structure of their supply chains to make up for missed deliveries, reclaiming some practices often undertaken by suppliers into their own factories or even pivoting production systems to make different products entirely – as seen by the sheer volume of manufacturers producing protective PPE equipment for frontline medical workers.

There is a risk that this short-term focus on operational capacity and processes could unravel efforts to integrate suppliers into more sustainable practices.

It is apparent that for many organisations, the globalisation of manufacturing has created a scenario where supply chains are unprepared for disruption. They’re either too localised into specific regions or span multiple continents and tiers to the points where end-user businesses won’t be aware of associated links to deforestation, human rights abuse and other environmental and ethical pinch points.

However, the impacts of the coronavirus on worker productivity, economic security and health and wellbeing pose specific threats to business. Many businesses will start to diversify their supplier base to minimise the risk of future disruptions and firms will be expected to assess the resilience of the entire supply chain, including second and third-tier suppliers.

Local vs global

With more than four trillion consumer goods products shipped globally annually, it is a staggering oversight that end-to-end traceability of goods across the value chain remains a “black hole of insight”.

Going forward, businesses and industries will seek to modernise supply chain practices, regardless of whether they are global or local and with the introduction of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies and processes which include cyber-physical systems (CPS), the internet of things (IoT), industrial internet of things (IIOT), cloud computing, cognitive computing and artificial intelligence (like Industry 4.0) will likely solve some of the transparency challenges.

Managing Hazardous Waste Management during the COVID-19 Pandemic

In a hospital or medical environment, preventing and delaying the spread of Coronavirus goes far beyond washing hands. Good biosecurity is essential, and the safe disposal of infected waste will save lives.

There is a need for efficient Hazardous Waste Management (HWM) to manage the transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of huge quantity of generated Hazardous Waste (HW) from industrial and commercial facilities as well as from smaller household sources as they can also pose an immediate and significant threat to environment and personnel.

The scale of the current situation, particularly in countries such as the UK which has never seen an outbreak of infectious disease of this magnitude, may seem overwhelming for those on the front line. 

Inciner8, one of the world’s largest respected incinerator manufacturers, offers a range of Incinerators for all applications in the waste management industry, products are specifically designed with clean air incineration at the forefront of product development for Medical, Animal by product and General Municipal waste streams.

The teams have been instrumental in providing high temperature medical incinerators to safely destroy infected waste during outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, avian bird flu, swine flu, and other infectious diseases.