Monday, July 16, 2007

A little application. Well, a lot, actually.

I saw this ad in Media Week.

Being well smart, beyond 'a festival of minds' and 'the biggest names tackle the biggest issue' I figured the word green might mean something I could/should be interested in, so I logged on to the website.

Strewth, they don't make it easy, do they?

All I could find out, beyond the fact it was green and big, was it was shaping up at six hundred quid for the probable privilege of again being talked at by some guys who will need to pop off after talking, a few hundred (doubtless eco) hand-outs and stands with LCDs showing wind turbines, some eco-canapes (or not) and sitting at a table populated by a bunch of overpaid guys with titles like 'Head of Sustainability' who all knew each other, only talked amongst themselves as a consequence, and moved in packs keeping each other, and conferences like this, in business. And at the end of the day agreeing 'something should be done'. At least, enough to tick over until the next conference/summit... festival.

However, for my sins, there may be a few in there worth meeting. So in a sad repeat of my last whinge power, which got me invited to the Guardian Climate Change Summit (this being a festival, maybe I should mention I can play a mean triangle), if anyone is a speaker.......:)

The Cola Challenge

Another industry magazine that I like and hence surf on occasion for tidbits is Plastics & Rubber Weekly. And this caught my attention: Coca-Cola launches lightweighted PET bottle in UK

Especially this: Potential resin saving of 700tpa, says company.


While I think all can agree that just about every aspect of this story is a very good thing, I do have to ask if (and if so, where the money went, and/or gets refunded) it was necessary for the trials to be partly funded by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap).

I also wonder if I could sign up to Wrap’s Courtauld Commitment to 'reduce packaging waste'. Then there would be 26 signatories to the agreement. Any why not? If money is there for the taking, you'd be silly not to get your hands on it.

So I don't blame Coke at all for going for it. But I just have to wonder, again, why it is necessary to use public money to fund multi-billion turnover (and profit) companies to help them reduce their manufacturing costs, when surely it is in their own interests to do so?

And thus allow money from the public purse to go to areas where there is perhaps more need, and less self-interest at work.

I'm sure there's a good reason, but I'll guess I'll have to keep looking, and make a note to ask £200kpa execs at the top of this generous quango the next time I see them.

I decided to see if I could get some answers:

Great news. This should be a real positive to share with all the negatives we get these days on (over)packaging.
Quick question. What does ‘partially funded’ mean? It seems unlikely that a multi-billion $/£ company needs to be funded at all, especially when, beyond savings on waste the future savings of raw material costs must surely be vast. How’s it work?
Where does this money come from? And were does it go to? How much are we talking about? Is it secret? I’m interested in the provenance chain.
And is this on the same basis of a similar thing I heard about a while ago with Heinz, and Tescos, for instance, which seemed to cause some concern at the time as to why two such vast profit making enterprises were being subsidised from the public purse. I’m presuming they’ll be paying it back which, in view of the manufacturing raw materials spared, should not be too, long, right?
Signing to this Agreement seems a good way to get oodles of public funds to play with, and hence can anyone get some money by signing it?
I’d really like to know as it seems very generous, and it would be great to have some too.

Smile, you can afford more stuff

Somewhere in my drafts archive is a piece I am writing about human behaviour and motivations. I can't seem to find it to finish it, but as I just came across this wanted to share as it was a telling complement: BBC - Emissions don't make Europe happy

I have a saying: 'Happiness is solar powered'. It really only was meant for my reaction to a sunny day, but maybe it can resonate further, but hopefully won't get hijacked for any undeserving low-enviROI initiatives.

"There used to be seven. Now there are six."

This is nothing to do with Snow White's companions, and nothing to do with fairy tales, it is what is actually happening as sea levels rise. As the climate change debate goes on and on, the evidence from communities living on low level islands is starting to become irrefutable.

This article from The Gulf Times highlights the danger to the people of Tuvalu, a tiny South Pacific nation. Thousands have already emigrated to New Zealand, others stoically remain, determined that their home will not be engulfed by rising sea levels, and the increasing frequency of typhoons and 'king' [super high] tides.

There used to be seven smaller islets surrounding the main island of Funafuti, but one has disappeared since the late 1990s, leaving a strip of rubble visible only at low tide.

For some, climate change is all a political conspiracy, oft seen as a way of increasing taxation; for others, it is literally becoming a matter of life and death.

ADDENDUM from Junkk Male

Letter in the Indy - Tuvalu is doomed no matter what - Unsubstantiated of course (but then most news is, too), but I do think worth bearing in mind.

What's a Boy or Girl to think?

We have lately had a spate of people telling us not only what we should (with any useful info on how being noticeable in the absence) think but, apparently with magical telepathic powers, what we are thinking.

From government to local authorities to the media, our opinions are being shaped, it seems, by telling us that what were thinking is in fact not what we are thinking. I guess that having seen the error of our ways by it coming from such trusted sources we will immediately revise them. Not.

So we have on the BBC this morning a report about the state of our rubbish laws.

What was most striking to me was a piece featuring some residents in Oxford (one of the more enlightened councils, I'd always thought) who were a bit fed up being told that there was no problem with bi-weekly collections, when in fact, by the evidence of all their senses (especially olfactory), there was. Seems they had not read the research or press releases thoroughly enough.

And so we arrive at the fact (well...) that this brainwave to force us to recycle more (nothing to do with saving money, oh, no) is, in fact, not working out: MPs: Fortnightly bin collections are an unworkable mess

Now, in my new capacity as Scoop Male, I have gone off and sourced this report. Well, I googled and clicked two links. Bernstein and Woodward look out!

I feel I must... should... as the quotes from the report writers made... gasp... a lot of sense, and were all the more refreshing by being from 'in-house' taboot, it being a Labour MP who headed it all.

Thing is, it is now in a list of several I have yet to read. Ho hum.

But things like this make it look worth the effort:

"In the long term there should be a move towards a national strategy to encourage householders and retailers to cut down on food waste. At present a third of all food bought is subsequently thrown away, wasting households on average £400 a year and adding to refuse collection costs."

“We would like the Government come up with a core definition of what householders should expect from their refuse collection. This should include no complicated rules, rubbish collected when the council says it will be and schemes to suit every household from the largest rural home to the most crowded urban area.

“What we do not want is, as Ben Bradshaw, then the Minister for Waste, put it, local authorities “blundering” into AWC before proper consideration and consultation has taken place as to whether this is the best system for that area.”

Or, let the BBC show what it is good at: MPs criticise bin collection plan Plus report. 63 b****y pages! Maybe later.

Guardian - Q&A: Rubbish collections
Guardian - Fortnightly collections not always the answer, say MPs