Friday, October 19, 2018

Wintry Outlook

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Hello

This is Anthony Day with the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday, 19th October. Welcome and thank you all for listening. A special thank you to my patrons whose support helps to make this possible. Thank you for your support and thank you for your ideas.
If you’d like to  join their number and become a patron pop across to patreon.com/SFR where you'll find all the details.
The big story this week is the IPCC report. Yes, I know it came out two weeks ago but there was an awful lot to read. One of the recommendations is the use of carbon capture and storage and this week we have an interview with Prof Jon Gluyas of Durham University who is an expert in this field.
In this episode I also comment on a number of the government's green policies, I talk about energy, I look into a smart sewer and I can tell you where to park your car for the price of a few plastic bottles
IPCC 
An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels has made a lot of headlines in the last couple of weeks. The report was created by a team of international scientists. Many reports start with an executive summary which runs to one or two pages. This report comes with a completely separate summary for policymakers which runs to 33 pages. It is meticulously cross-referenced to the relevant sections of the full report. 
The report talks about the dangers resulting from a global temperature rise of 1.5°C, but it spends a lot of time talking about how much worse things will be if the rise reaches 2°. It warns that warming from anthropogenic emissions from the pre-industrial period to the present will persist for centuries to millennia and will continue to cause further long-term changes in the climate system, such as sea level rise, with associated impacts.
Impacts
I quote: “Future climate-related risks depend on the rate, peak and duration of warming. In the aggregate they are larger if global warming exceeds 1.5°C before returning to that level by 2100 than if global warming gradually stabilizes at 1.5°C, especially if the peak temperature is high (e.g., above 2°C). Some impacts may be long-lasting or irreversible, such as the loss of some ecosystems.” 
These impacts will be both on the natural world and on humanity. Rising temperatures are expected to lead to the increased frequency and intensity of precipitation and of droughts, with some areas being at greater risk than others. If temperatures rise by 2° sea levels will rise significantly more than if the rise is held to 1.5°, but in either case sea levels will continue to rise beyond 2100. The actual magnitude and rate depends on emissions now, and a slower rise gives greater opportunities for adaptation.
Ice Flows
Instability of the marine ice sheet in Antarctica or the irreversible loss of Greenland ice could lead in the very long term to metre-level rises. Theoretically this could be triggered if global temperatures rise towards a 2° increase. At 1.5° a sea-ice-free summer could be expected in the Arctic every 100 years. A 2° rise makes this likely every 10 years.
Life on Earth
The changing climate will affect all insects, plants and invertebrates and some may lose 50% or more of their geographic range. Again, a 2° rise makes things even worse, including a greater occurrence of forest fires.
Not so permanent permafrost
Global warming risks thawing the permafrost, releasing methane which is a significantly more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.
Oceans
Global warming affects the oceans causing acidification. The range of marine species will shift and coral and fisheries, particularly in low latitudes, will become depleted. Agricultural yields will fall, both from cereals and from livestock. This will lead to higher costs of food for some and increased poverty for others particularly in developing countries and marginal lands.
Carbon budget
The concept of the carbon budget has been around for a while. The theory is that we have only so much more CO2 that we can emit into the atmosphere before we pass the point of no return in terms of triggering catastrophic climate change. The report addresses this issue but cautions that the exact limit depends on measurement methodology. In turn that means the choice of temperature measurement, the prediction of the incremental effects of additional CO2 in the atmosphere and the behaviour of permafrost and wetlands as they release their sequestered CO2 and methane as the planet warms. If we are to limit global warming to an increase of 1.5° C there remain between 420 and 770 gigatons of CO2 left to emit before we reach a tipping point. If we divide those figures by the current annual global emissions of 42 gigatons then the best case is that we have less than 20 years left and the worst case is only 10. Even that may be an unsafe conclusion, as on present rising trends annual usage by 2030 could have risen to 58 gigatons.
What do we do?
The report presents a number of strategies for addressing the carbon emissions problem. They all involve carbon dioxide removal (CDR), bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and agricultural, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) changes. They all involve lower energy demand.
There is no doubt of the seriousness of the message. I quote: “Pathways limiting global warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems. These systems transitions are unprecedented in terms of scale, but not necessarily in terms of speed, and imply deep emissions reductions in all sectors, a wide portfolio of mitigation options and a significant upscaling of investments in those options.” 
One of these options, as I've mentioned,  is carbon capture and storage. Professor Jon Gluyas of Durham University is Dean of Knowledge Exchange, Director of the Durham Energy Institute and holds the ├śrsted/Ikon Chair in Geoenergy. Here’s what he told me.

INTERVIEW

Green GB Week
It’s the UK government’s Green GB Week, in fact it ends today. I can’t tell you a lot about it as I only heard about it very recently. The tagline is “Building the UK’s Clean Future Together”, and you can’t argue with that. There have been events all over the country, mainly aimed at business, and mainly sold out. There’s advice to consumers on the website - the usual reducing food waste, getting a smart meter, carrying a reusable bottle or coffee cup and reducing energy use at home. There’s a list of the top ten actions to take. Interestingly that includes understanding where your pension is invested. 
For communities the main lead is to the Community Energy Hub. I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of this, although I am involved in our local community energy group. 
If they make this an annual event and hold it again next year I hope they give it a higher profile.
What else has the government been doing this Green GB week, following the publication of the IPCC Report?
Fracking
Well fracking has restarted in the North of England after 7 years, despite being rejected by the local council and opposed by activists. Our green government has overruled the council and sent some of the activists to prison. Fortunately on Wednesday of this week the Appeal Court found that the sentences were disproportionate and the protestors were released. There’s another protest on Saturday, apparently. I do hope they won’t be arrested again.
UK joins Trump
Professor James Hansen, former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and considered by many as the father of climate science has written to UK environment minister Claire Perry warning that the decision to allow fracking was a serious policy error that would contribute to “climate breakdown”.
“So the UK joins Trump, ignores science… full throttle ahead with the worst fossil fuels,” Hansen told the Observer. “The science is crystal clear, we need to phase out fossil fuels starting with the most damaging, the ‘unconventional’ fossil fuels such as tar sands and ‘fracking’.”
Our government knows best.
Electric cars breakdown
Also in Green GB week the government announced changes to the grants for electric cars. From 9 November 2018, consumers will see the grant for electric cars fall from £4,500 to £3,500. The grant for plug-in hybrids will be withdrawn altogether. The government announcement says that if this news leads to a surge in sales to beat the deadline they will bring the deadline forward.
We ordered our electric car last month, but there is nothing in stock anywhere in the UK so it has to be built to order. It won’t arrive until December, by which time the changes will have taken effect. 
Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/10/changes-to-electric-and-hybrid-car-grant-means-owners-will-pay-more/ - Which? 
Eating Meat
Eating meat is bad for the environment because the amount of nutrition that has to be fed to sheep and cattle is far in excess of the nutritional value of the mates. This is because these animals use their nutrition to produce bones, horns, leather and so on, none of which can be eaten. Raising livestock requires vast amounts of water, so all in all if we continue to eat meat we are going to be unable to feed the growing world population. Not to mention that ruminants such as cattle and sheep emit vast amounts of methane, that highly potent greenhouse gas.
Asked if she would advise people to eat less meat the same Claire Perry said that this would be the act of a nanny state and that people should make up their own minds. A letter to the i newspaper put it rather differently. “A nanny state is when the government tells me what I should do for my own good. I do not consider it is a nanny state when governments tells me what to do for the sake of all.
In Germany meat has been excluded from the meals served at official government functions in recognition of its unsustainability. This has not gone down well with some German politicians, notably the German Minister for food.

Let’s leave the government for the moment and look into something else. You've probably got a smartphone, you may have a smart meter, you may have a Smart car, you’ll have heard about smart grids and smart appliances. Smart cities world reports on smart sewers.
Smart sewers
The article is about Kansas City, where special assistant city manager Andy Shively says, “A smart city starts eight feet below the ground and goes up from there.”

Kansas City is located in the geographic heart of America and boasts the world’s largest smart sewer sensor network. It includes nearly 300 sensors deployed on the underside of rugged manhole covers across a vast 2,800-mile sewer pipe network covering 318 square miles.
A real-time decision support system created by tech company EmNet will dynamically control the flow of water to help prevent combined sewage from entering the Missouri River.
The system uses in-line gates to maximise storage in the sewer system during heavy rains, much the same as smart traffic lights work during rush hour. The $1.2 million (£0.9 million) smart system will help prevent the construction of costly deep tunnels and pumping stations. “We’ll use what’s already built to hold the flow,” he said.
The sensors act as a type of flow meter that works like sonar, measuring the flow and depth of the water in any given spot. Shively met EmNet five years ago, after founder Luis Montestruque converted artificial intelligence (AI) technology that was originally used to help locate snipers firing on troops in combat and to track enemies in GPS-denied areas. It was based on collecting data from IoT devices, which were named ‘Smart Dust’.
The system is linked to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration weather forecasts and has been highly successful in its first year. 
Which is just as well, as Kansas City is under the gun from the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection to prevent combined sewer water and stormwater from entering the Missouri River.
Weather 
Talking of stormwater, every week I report on more extreme and life-threatening weather across the world. This week, lives lost in Wales, Portugal and France.  
Meanwhile in Florida 22 lives have been lost to Hurricane Michael. Lives were lost in Georgia as well, and whole cities razed to the ground.
The president says…
President Donald Trump spoke to CBS 60 Minutes about climate change. One of the things that he said was, “I’m not denying climate change, but it could very well go back.”
“I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a hoax. I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s manmade. I will say this: I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs.”

An article in the New York Times analyses each of his statements in detail. Find the link on the blog.
National Grid Winter Outlook
This winter’s weather will test our national energy infrastructure once again. National Grid’s latest Winter Outlook Report is much more confident than in recent years. In March this year National Grid was forced to issue a gas deficit warning for the first time in eight years after Europe was gripped by a cold snap, dubbed the “Beast from the East”, and after several pieces of gas infrastructure suffered outages.
National Grid is confident that there will be enough gas this time, partly because Norway’s new Aasta Hansteen field comes on stream shortly, but worryingly it says, “As global gas prices have risen, it is likely that coal will replace gas in the generation merit order for some of the winter.”
Staying with energy, there’s news from Flamanville. 
Hinkley C
You’ll remember that that is the site in France where EDF is building a nuclear power station to the new design which will be used at Hinkley C in the UK. Like the Hinkley plant, Flamanville is way over budget and years behind schedule. There has been an ongoing investigation by the French nuclear inspectorate over concerns that the integrity of the steel in the reactor vessel is prejudiced by containing too much carbon. The inspectorate has now agreed that the reactor can be commissioned, but the lid must be replaced when the first fuel change occurs in 2024. I believe that this will require demolition of part of the reactor building, so expect a significant outage period and further increased costs.
We are assured that lessons have been learned, so such issues will not affect Hinkley C.



Scottish Power has put all its eggs in one energy basket. It is selling its hydro, pumped storage and gas generators to Drax and will supply only wind-generated electricity in future.


I understand that BBC Radio’s File on 4, a documentary series, presented a highly critical review of UK energy policy. I have yet to listen to it - maybe something for next week’s episode.

Juliana
In the US the Juliana case rumbles on. This relates to a group of children suing the president and the government for allowing fossil fuel companies to produce products which emit harmful emissions and threaten their life chances. The latest ruling is that the president cannot be a party to the case, but the government is still in the frame and all efforts to have the case struck out have failed.
Some of the children who started the case in 2015 are not children any more. Didn’t somebody once say that justice delayed is justice denied?




A few final thoughts
Apparently you can now pay for your parking in Leeds with plastic bottles. For every bottle you take back for recycling to CitiPark you will receive a £.20 voucher. It costs £19.50 to park there for the whole day, so for that you will need around 95 bottles.
Following up on the IPCC report and the sustainable development goals; there is a chart at the back of the report which shows the potential trade-off between the mitigation options and the sustainable development goals.
The controversy over Walker's crisps being packaged in bags which cannot be recycled: a firm in Worcester has developed a biodegradable crisp packet which can be composted and will disintegrate in six months.

And that's it for another week. 
Thanks again to my patrons for their continuing support and thank you for listening. In addition to iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher I will also put this episode on SoundCloud. Not many hits there so far, but we'll see how it goes. And don't forget, links to the sources for all these stories are, as always, on the blog. 
I'm Anthony Day and if you have ideas, questions or suggestions please let me have them at mail@anthony-day.com.   
That's it for now.

That was the Sustainable Futures Report. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Executive Summary

You won’t find this episode of the Sustainable Futures Report  on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or via www,susbiz.biz because it’s exclusively for Patrons, but you can sign up to support the podcast for as little as $1 per month at www.patreon.com/sfr

Hello.

This is Anthony Day and this isn’t exactly the Sustainable Futures Report.
This is a quick update available exclusively to Patrons to remind you that last week’s Sustainable Futures Report was all about plastic and to let you know what you can look forward to next Friday 19th October.
The main issue will be the IPCC Report which warns that we have only 12 years to sort out climate change and we need to cut emissions dramatically as quickly as we can. This in a week where the British government has permitted fracking to restart while protestors languish in prison. We'll hear what climate scientist James Hansen has to say about that! The National Grid has published its winter outlook and tells us that electricity supplies will be secure because they have access to an enormous Norwegian gas field. This week the government launches the Green GB campaign and also announces that it's cutting subsidies for electric cars. Cutting down on eating meat will reduce emissions, but the responsible minister says she wouldn’t dream of telling people what to do about that.
The US government is still battling with Juliana. She doesn't give up! Neither do they.
There has been even more life-threatening exceptional weather. This time in Portugal and in Wales. There is good news, of a sort, from that new nuclear power station at Flamanville in France and Smart Cities World reports that smart cities start 8 feet below the ground. You've probably got a smartphone, you may have a smart meter, you may have a Smart car, you’ll have heard about smart grids and smart appliances. On Friday you’ll learn about smart sewers.
And if we can't stop dangerous emissions maybe we can trap them before they float away into the atmosphere. I have an exclusive interview with Professor Jon Gluyas from Durham University about carbon capture and storage.
All that to look forward to.

Thanks again to all my patrons for their valued support.
You can join their number at www.patreon.com/SFR. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Plastic

Find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or via www,susbiz.biz


Hello and welcome to the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday, 12 October. This episode is going to be all about plastic, one of the wonders and one of the curses of modern life.
I’m Anthony Day and before we start let me thank my patrons for their continuing support. I'm delighted to say that the number of people accessing this podcast in September was by far the highest so far this year. I'm delighted to be reaching more and more people all over the world.
Before we Start
Before we talk about plastic, just a couple of news items which I picked up. 
IPCC
You’ll know that the IPCC report I spoke about last time has indeed been published this week, despite confusing messages on the IPCC website. “Global warming must not exceed 1.5C, warns landmark UN report”  I will look at it in detail for next time.
Fuel Duty
You probably heard, at least you may have if you're in the UK, that the government will freeze fuel duty at its current level for the ninth year in succession. That will mean that the Treasury has to find £800 million from somewhere else and of course there will be no effect on consumption or on emissions levels.
Flying Green?
On the other hand there is good news from Virgin Atlantic. This week the first commercial flight partly fuelled by recycled waste landed in the UK from Orlando, Florida. The flight’s fuel blend was 5% recycled, but the sustainable element could apparently form up to 50%.
It was produced in the US by LanzaTech, which claims it could eventually supply about 20% of the aviation industry’s fuel, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 65% compared with conventional petroleum. Virgin is bidding for government support to have plants built in the UK that could fuel all its operations. 
Something like this is certainly going to have to be done if we are to continue with aviation and have any hope of meeting our emissions targets.
Stormy Weather
And then there is the weather. Another week of extreme weather events. British tourists killed by flash floods in Majorca. Residents in Florida and Georgia killed by Hurricane Michael, which even now is devastating the Carolinas. And this only a couple of weeks after Hurricane Florence.

And so to plastic. 
Plastic. Don't you love it, don't you hate it?
In this episode I want to look at all aspects of plastic. How it’s made, how it can be recycled, how we deal with waste plastic that’s been discarded, the consequences of all that waste and whether we can replace plastic with something that has all of its advantages and none of its problems. I’ll also talk about the BBC’s latest Drowning in Plastic documentary.
Wonder Product
In many ways plastic is a wonder product. It is used for so many things. Look around you and see if you can see anything that’s not made of plastic. Even things that are made of other materials may have plastic coatings or plastic fittings. Plastic is robust, waterproof and vapour proof, doesn’t rot and can be moulded or extruded into all sorts of shapes. Generally it’s very, very cheap - much cheaper than many other materials. Some plastic is rigid, some plastic is flexible. Some is transparent, some is opaque. Some plastics can stand the heat of an oven or the cool of a freezer, or both. It’s this resilience which is plastic’s downside. It’s extremely difficult to destroy. You’ve probably heard that every bit of plastic that’s ever been made still exists somewhere on earth, unless it’s been burnt. And an awful lot of it hasn’t been burnt.
Drowning in Plastic
First of all I’m going to talk about Drowning in Plastic, a BBC documentary presented by Liz Bonnin. You can find it on the BBC iPlayer.
Wildlife
This programme started with shearwater chicks. Young birds in Tasmania whose parents feed them with fragments of plastic believing they are food. Volunteers were desperately washing the stomachs of these birds and removing up to 200 plastic fragments from each. Plastic which ends up in the oceans is affecting wildlife and the food chain in at least three ways. Plastic fragments are mistake for food and the animals which ingest them not only risk damaging their insides but also suffer from malnutrition. These plastics may leach chemicals which can affect the animals and even prevent them from reproducing. Plastics may carry pathogens and as they drift with the breeze across the wide oceans they can carry epidemics and diseases rapidly and comprehensively. 
Microparticles
Some plastics degrade into microparticles while other plastics are already microparticles and are flushed down drains into rivers and out to sea. They come from synthetic fabrics when they are washed and they come from vehicle tyres as they gradually wear down. Microbeads have been used in toothpastes and facial scrubs and other cosmetics and they pass through all forms of sewage treatment and end up in the oceans. Like the particles that are caused by the degradation of plastic waste they can be absorbed by the very smallest organisms, krill for example, which is the main diet of some whales. The food chain therefore is affected from top to bottom. 
Gone Fishing
About 50% of plastic waste floating in the oceans is abandoned or lost fishing gear. Nets, lines, hooks and buoys. Birds, seals, turtles, even whales can become entangled in this debris from which they cannot release themselves. Harrowing scenes were shown of animals with gaping wounds. A line strangling a seal as it grew. And it's not just abandoned fishing tackle. Lines from lobster pots on the seabed to buoys on the surface trap whales as they make their way along their migration routes to the breeding grounds. Some lobster fisherman are keen to find a solution, but they are trapped in that their whole life and assets are invested in the fishing business and they can't afford to just stop. At least people are looking at possible alternatives including systems where the line is submerged with the lobster pot and not deployed until it's time to reel them in. 
Downriver
We saw how plastic is carried by rivers, in this case in Indonesia. In the world at large 2 billion people have no refuge disposal. Rubbish has always been burnt or chucked into the river. That's not a serious problem with organic materials like wood and plant matter. Organic materials are biodegradable. The plastics of course are not, it's one of their strengths. They float down the river and we saw scenes with whole estuaries choked with plastic from shore to shore. The fisherman do not fish there any more. The fish don't look very healthy at all. Instead the fishermen have become litter pickers and sort through the debris for what they can sell to recycling plants. Apart from plastic bottles and plastic bags, in the developing world consumers buy very much smaller quantities of tea or coffee or sugar or shampoo or soap. It all comes in individual plastic sachets which will add to the debris in the river. And once in the river it makes its way out to sea. You have probably heard of the great Pacific garbage patch. It's an area at three times the size of France full of plastic debris. That’s bad enough, but apparently there are five such garbage patches around the world. Plastic waste is found everywhere, even in the Arctic and at the deepest depths of the ocean. The message of the programme was clear, stark and quite disturbing.
The website linked to this BBC programme is much more limited than I’d hoped. It encourages us to tackle the plastics problem - specifically the single-use plastics problem - by making pledges such as to avoid plastic straws, carry a re-usable water bottle or coffee cup and to take your own container and cutlery for a takeaway. Yes, it’s a start. The link also leads us to the BBC’s Plastics Watch initiative in partnership with the Open University, which has a much broader range of information.
Taking Action
Like most sustainability issues, plastic pollution has no simple solutions and solutions can have unintended consequences. Take plastic drinking straws, an example of a single-use plastic product which may have a useful life of 20 minutes or less. Why don’t we just ban them? Well first of all that would remove something that some disabled people rely on. Give them a paper straw instead! But paper straws can be even more environmentally damaging than plastic straws, although in a different way. And paper straws can collapse more easily, especially if the liquid is hot. Mind you, if plastic straws are exposed to heat they can release toxins. Some paper straws can leach ink if they are used for hot liquids, some may contain plastics to prevent them from collapsing and some may involve harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process. The best paper straws have none of these drawbacks and decompose in 30-60 days. Usually, they are more expensive than plastic straws. Americans use 500 million drinking straws every day, mainly plastic.That’s an average rate of 1.6 straws per person per day. In the UK we use rather less, at around 8.5bn per year or 23m per day: less than half a straw per person per day. (0.383) The global total is unclear, but it’s a lot. At least it’s a lot of straws, but it’s not a lot of plastic. It’s estimated that about 2,000 tonnes of plastic straws end up in the ocean annually, but that’s a very small proportion of the 9m tonnes of plastic which ends up in the sea in total. So please do refuse a plastic straw, but there’s much more to be done, and no straw at all is probably the best solution. If you must have a straw stainless steel straws are available - that’s the material that cutlery is made of. Amnesty’s Christmas catalogue offers bamboo straws, which come with a cleaning brush.
Taking Back Control
We need to go a lot further in controlling plastic. If we don’t cut the production of plastic we will always be fighting a losing battle, but the versatility of plastic makes it extremely difficult to replace.  The Waste and Resources Action Programme (which operates as WRAP) is a registered UK Charity. On their website, which covers the whole range of waste, not just plastic, you will find information about the different types of plastic and about plastic recycling. They talk about designing products with recycling in mind, which takes us back to what we were saying about the circular economy a few weeks ago.
Number please
Recycling has a long way to go. Most plastic products carry a number in the centre of a triangle of arrows. This identifies the type of plastic and therefore the appropriate method of recycling. There are seven different types, but only 1 and 2, PET and HDPE, polyethylene terephthalate and High Density Polyethylene, are currently collected from domestic premises for recycling. The problem with recycling is a financial one. Recycling requires a reverse supply chain - to return the used bottle or bag or tray to a recycling point. Then the items need to be sorted so that one type of plastic is not contaminated by another. Items may need to be washed to get rid of food residues, for example, which could also contaminate the recycling process. The recycling itself may involve the use of chemicals and will certainly require energy. All these stages have a cost, so the big question is whether it makes more sense just to make something new from fresh raw materials. 
Tax or Subsidy?
Maybe governments should put taxes on new products or offer subsidies for recycling. The problem there is that taxation will be passed on as an extra cost to the consumer and subsidies will be paid for by the taxpayer. Either taxation or subsidies might change the producers’ behaviour and could then be phased out, but this will only happen if there is a cost-effective alternative to plastic. Is it cost-effective to send ships to collect the plastic waste gathered far out to sea by those booms floating in the oceanic garbage patches? Is there a demand for it as a raw material? 
The Chinese Solution
For many years we in the UK shipped plastic waste to China. We buy a lot of consumer goods from China. The containers were going back empty so it made sense to fill them with scrap plastic so that it could be used as a raw material. A couple of months ago China decided that it no longer needed to import scrap plastic and imports will cease from 31st December this year. The UK is one of the countries which relies on China as a destination for this material and therefore has not built domestic recycling capacity. Some people in the industry see China’s action as a disaster; others see it as an opportunity. Either way there is going to be some stockpiling because recycling plants cannot be built overnight.
Good News
This is a superficial review of a wide and complex issue and one which I am sure we will return to. At least it's all not all bad news, so here are some examples of good things which people are doing.
Cleaning up at sea
I mentioned a while ago that a floating boom has been developed which is carried by the wind across the oceans’ garbage patches. It’s slowed by sea anchors so that the faster-drifting plastic debris accumulates behind it. Concentrating the rubbish in one place like this means that it can be more easily collected and taken away for recycling. The BBC programme reported on this, and also another machine which removes plastic from rivers. It’s driven by a water wheel which is powered by the flow of the river.
Eating your rubbish
And edible plastics are being developed. The Fast Company reports that after you finish a cocktail in a new type of glass, you can eat the cup. “Loliware, which is made from a base of seaweed and comes in flavors like yuzu citrus or matcha tea, is designed to replace disposable cups at parties that would normally end up in the trash.” If you don’t eat it, the cup can be composted. Unfortunately Loliware’s website carries the message “Back soon”. 
Other edible cups are available.  Reuters tells us of Jakarta food and beverages retailer Ong Tek Tjan who sells ice cream in cups his customers can eat afterwards, instead of throwing away - they are made from seaweed and taste like jelly, in flavors from peppermint to green tea.
I seem to remember reporting a while ago on drinks distributed in edible plastic wrapping. My only question with all these products is “Don’t you need to wrap them in something to keep them clean?”
Cleaning up at the supermarket
Morrison’s supermarkets in the UK are giving up plastic bags for fruit and vegetables and offering paper bags instead. Let’s hope that no noxious chemicals are used in the production of the paper. Morrisons will also allow you to bring your own container to collect your meat. (Meat, yes that’s another controversial issue. We may look at that next week.) Morrisons have introduced reverse vending machines and Tesco have announced that they will introduce them as well. We covered them a while ago. It’s a machine which accepts your glass, plastic and aluminium containers, sorts them into separate bins automatically and gives you a voucher for your trouble.
Types of Plastic
Costing a Packet
Walkers Crisps (that’s potato crisps or what you might call potato chips) have undertaken to recycle their packets and are setting up collection points. This follows a popular campaign against the brand when people realised how many packets were thrown away every day and just how difficult they are to recycle. They used the company’s Freepost address to send back the empty packets in such numbers that the Post Office complained. Of course, once again there are two sides to the story. The plasticised foil packet which replaced the traditional paper crisp packet some years ago revolutionised the industry. The new packet keeps the crisps crisp and fresh for much longer, and doesn’t have to be stored out of the light like the old ones did. Finding a more acceptable alternative will be challenging.
Leeds by Example
In Leeds, West Yorkshire, a new campaign called Leeds by example has just been launched.
Environmental charity Hubbub has teamed up with Leeds City Council, Coca-Cola, Shell, McDonald's, and others to boost recycling of plastic bottles and coffee cups
A host of major brands have joined an initiative aimed at improving on-the-go recycling options in the centre of Leeds, where recycling reward machines, 'bubble-blowing' bins, and recycling collection bikes are being rolled out.
The 'Leeds by Example' campaign is aimed at providing consumers with a means of recycling plastic bottles, drinks cans, coffee cups, and other packaging from goods consumed while out on the streets or in public places.
Consumers currently get through 13 billion plastic bottles, nine billion drinks cans, and 2.5 billion coffee cups each year, yet the rate of recycling when on-the-go in the UK remains low, according to environmental charity Hubbub, which is leading the initiative.
At present, only 42 per cent of local authorities provide on-the-go recycling facilities in the UK, while there remains widespread confusion among the public over what can be recycled, Hubbub explained.
As a result, the charity has brought together 23 major brands for the six-month trial initiative launching in Leeds, which will see new recycling facilities deployed for plastic, cans, and paper cups on the streets and in local offices, universities, shopping centres, and transport hubs.
Run in conjunction with Leeds City Council, the results of the six-month trial will be shared with a view to rolling out the most successful elements of the campaign nationwide in the future.
The initiative will also see the first UK trial of the 'We-Recycle' phone app.
The app uses barcodes and labelling on soft drinks packaging and coffee cups to provide clear, cross-brand help for people on what and how to recycle, with a map to find their nearest recycling points.
James Piper, managing director of recycling compliance scheme Ecosurety, explained that contamination from food and drink has previously been a major challenge for efforts to improve on-street recycling. "The communications campaign running alongside the new recycling facilities is a critical part of #LeedsByExample and we hope this will dramatically reduce the level of contamination so that more of the waste collected can be recycled," he said.
There’s a link to all this on the blog. Much better than the link you get if you google Leeds by example - all you get is an unfinished page.

And that’s it
And that’s it for another week. Apologies to Patrons who did not get the Sustainable Futures Report early this time. I normally publish at 01.00am on a Friday morning and it’s currently about 10 o’clock on Thursday night [at the time of recording] and I’m still putting it together. And I’ve driven 250 miles today. Anyway..

I’m Anthony Day.
That was the Sustainable Futures Report.
There will be another one next week.

Good night.