In many ways paper is the perfect example of the circular economy; it is both an end product and the main raw material when recycled into the next generation of products.

In order for the paper sector to remain profitable – especially important given the recent surge in raw material prices – recycling must be made as operationally efficient as possible and able to create innovative new products of higher value than before.

One key challenge to this has been determining the overall efficiency of the recycling process from start to finish. Current tools can determine, say how efficient a recycling plant is processing raw material at any one given time, but achieving a global picture of the entire process has been difficult to capture. The EU REFFIBRE project, which hosted its final conference in September 2016, has developed new tools to achieve exactly this.

Achieving recycling efficiencies will have significant – and positive – business implications for the paper sector. The policy and consumer-driven shift towards a bio-based economy (and away from a fossil fuel-based one) has had the knock-on effect of increasing demand for tree-based raw materials from sectors like energy, which has in turn driven up prices.

The project’s concept is that by gathering information on the potential impact of new processes, raw material input and product innovations – and combining this information with key processing data – paper makers will be equipped to make the most informed decisions on how to run their operations as efficiently as possible.

REFFIBRE began by identifying and then testing various production and process modelling tools. As raw material selection and stock preparation can influence pulp properties, tools for predicting this have been developed. This means that key parameters, such as the Mean Fibre Age (number of times a fibre has been used before entering a paper mill) and the Mean Number of Uses (number of times a fibre will be used after leaving the paper mill), can now be calculated.

REFFIBRE partners have also worked on tools to help paper makers take into full consideration issues such as the impact on energy use outside the paper mill, and what happens if reduced quality recycling material is fed into the process. These tools were then tested under real processing conditions, and the results of each case study combined into a practical guide targeted at industry decision makers. In addition, it is expected that the results will be used to further develop industry standards.

Achieving recycling efficiencies is one way that the pulp and paper industry can mitigate raw material price increases, and at the same time reduce its environmental impact. There is a significant business opportunity here; Europe paper fibre is recycled an astounding 3.5 times a year; world-wide the average is 2.4 times. The recycling rate in Europe reached 71.7 % in 2012. All this strongly suggests that the infrastructure for paper recycling is already in place. And now, thanks in part to the REFFIBRE project, so is the technology.

Source: www.phys.org

Reclaimed wood makes a comeback

A Cape furniture designer is recycling discarded cellar items into pieces of masterfully crafted furniture by breathing new life into old wine barrels.

For the past 17 years, Vinwood has been crafting unique indoor and outdoor furniture from reclaimed French oak, sourced from the winelands of the Western Cape where it was once used as wine barrels and casks. The furniture gives homes a welcoming ambience with Vinwood’s simplistic, functional yet timeless designs.

“The casks and tanks that we salvage date from the past two centuries and we preserve the character of these giants by carefully incorporating the markings and numbering on the staves left by the craftsman who made these items decades ago. The barrel, and stave numbers can be seen on the edges of our Reserve Range tables, making each piece a collector’s item,” says CEO Jianni Geras.

Vinwood’s manufacturing process relies largely on skilled labour, as the nature of the curved barrel timber demands hand selection and hand crafting.

Encapsulating the history and romance of the wine that the wood used to cradle within it, wineries such as Spier, Boschendal, Bilton, Devonvale, Whalehaven, Jordan and Zorgvliet have commissioned Vinwood for unique pieces of furniture.

“Green living is a big trend in South Africa and identifying a gap for unique items which become conversation starters, together with looking remarkable in the home makes our furniture a logical solution,” Geras says.

“We take pride in the fact that 90% of our material is re-cycled timber and from an environmentally sustainable source. The 10% new oak that we use is also from sustainable forests in North America, although it is not recycled wood.”

The large range consists of patio and cellar furniture, coffee tables, lounge and occasional seats, dining room tables and chairs, high chairs, as well as kitchen accessories.

In the five years to May 2016, SA’s electricity use fell 6%, leaving a substantial and growing hole in Eskom’s budget. Eskom’s response has been to try to suppress new competitors and encourage big new customers. In a single week in July, it announced:

• It was negotiating with aluminium smelters to increase electricity use. Aluminium smelting in SA is predicated on access to cheap, (but dirty) energy;

• It would not accept further independent renewable producers after the current round of tenders because of the potential effect on its revenue. The share of private renewable energy in national demand rose from 4% in 2011, to 8% in 2016;

• It was trying to expand exports to the region in light of slow domestic demand.

The first two strategies will entrench commodity dependence and promote energy intensity. Instead of fostering growth in new industries and emerging enterprises, they will reinforce Eskom’s effective partnership with huge metal refineries.

Eskom’s dilemma is rooted in the end of the commodity boom, combined with a pricing strategy that is delinked from national goals around diversification and development. The recent commodity boom was an outlier. Yet SA’s electricity investment and pricing systems built in an assumption that metal prices would defy gravity for decades.

From 2008 to 2015, huge new coal-fuelled plants were initiated, while electricity tariffs in constant rand more than doubled. Below the radar, there’s a widely held belief that Eskom’s tariff hikes mostly reflected inefficiency and corruption. That view ignores both the cost of Eskom’s new investments and the soaring price of coal during the commodity boom.

This is not to deny inefficiency at Eskom. For instance:

• Eskom links the price of electricity for the smelters to the aluminium price, so it has in effect given them about tens of billions in rebates since the commodity boom ended;

• From 2008 to 2014, while its sales fell, Eskom’s employment climbed from 35,000 to 47,000;

• From 2014-15 to 2015-16, the remuneration of Eskom directors and group executives climbed from R50m to R75m.

Eskom’s model of increasing electricity supply and tariffs together clashed with global metal prices. Today, Eskom is in the midst of investments of more than R100bn in Medupi and Kusile even as the energy-intensive industries are downsizing.

Consider the steel industry. From 2007 to 2015, SA’s steel production fell about 30%. Virtually the entire decline resulted from the closure of electric furnaces, where production dropped by about half. Climbing electricity costs encourage a shift away from energy-intensive production even as Eskom races to increase its output.

Two factors shape Eskom’s response to its new realities.

First, it seems to know only how to build big plants, whether coal or nuclear. In 2013, the update report on the Integrated Resource Plan for electricity proposed a simple answer to managing uncertain demand: look to smaller plants that would enable more flexible responses. Instead, Eskom has forged ahead with giant projects, then sought to manage demand, alternating rationing and subsidies for the refineries.

Second, Eskom faces sometimes contradictory socioeconomic demands conjoined with a single hard financial requirement: it is required by law to remain self-sufficient and creditworthy. It is also expected to get electricity to poor communities; stabilise the supply to industry; provide a market and transmission for renewable energy projects in remote areas; and drive the construction of base load plants. Meanwhile, its prices are regulated through a complex, rigid and slow process without visible strategic aims.

In these circumstances, Eskom has tended to externalise costs wherever it can and to pursue socioeconomic imperatives only when they won’t damage cash flow. It’s hard to manage Eskom. The company knows far more about electricity than anyone in the government or civil society. Faced with a policy that it doesn’t want, it can argue that the result will be a blackout. Moreover, it habitually blames regulators or government officials when things go wrong.

But SA will pay a high price if we let Eskom respond to the looming oversupply by pumping out more energy for smelters and cutting support for renewables and energy efficiency.

If SA is serious about clean development and industrialisation, it should insist that any excess supply is used to encourage new industries, not to expand existing refineries, and that future electricity investment is small, decentralised and clean.

By Dr Neva Makgetla for www.bdlive.co.za
Image credit: www.bdlive.co.za

His name is Peter May, and the collars of his dapper blue shirt have been ironed flat.

“I have the same name as an English cricketer,” he says, pulling a trolley that bulges with rubbish bags.

But he is not a cricketer, and for him the waste inside the bags is not garbage. It is his livelihood: bundles of white paper, cardboard, newspaper and light steel sifted from bins and landfill sites across Cape Town.

May is one of the country’s 60 000 to 90 000 waste pickers who, in a recent surprise finding, save our municipalities up to R750-million a year.

They divert recyclables away from the landfills at no, or little cost. Now their fate hangs in the balance as the waste economy sets off on a new path.

According to a report by the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the waste and recycling sector “is on the brink of change” thanks to mandatory extended producer responsibility, which means producers will be responsible for the waste they generate. This often takes the form of a reuse, buy-back or recycling programme.

The CSIR has done research to see if waste pickers can be incorporated into the formal economy, and Professor Linda Godfrey, who led the study, said: “The most surprising finding for me was when we started to attach financial values to the savings by municipalities as a result of informal waste pickers.”

With paper and packaging, for example, a staggering 80-90% of waste is recovered by the pickers, and it is estimated that each picker diverts up to 24 tons of packaging waste a year. Cardboard gets them about 80c/kg, plastic R2, newspaper 40c and light steel 70c.

After 2009, when the South African Waste Pickers’ Association was formed, many formed co-operatives, a model of integration favoured by the Department of Environmental Affairs.

Godfrey, however, said 92% of co-operatives had failed and their members had returned to picking on landfills.

“What must be done in the short term is to move pickers off landfill sites, where they reclaim recyclables, often with considerable health risks.”

This could be done only by diverting recyclables “through separation at source and kerbside collection programmes”.

For many, however, kerbside collection comes at a price, with neighbourhood watches demonising waste pickers and encouraging residents to keep bins behind high walls until the trucks arrive.

Much of the recycling happens out of view, however, with many waste pickers saying they walk up to 40km to make sure they drop goods off at the right places.

“About 12 or 13 guys a day come here,” says Zainab Abrahams, manager of Town Scrap Metals in Lansdowne, Cape Town. “Each brings in around 7kg. They come with cardboard, white paper, and newspaper. I don’t take plastic though, it is too messy.”

Zainab Abrahams at her scrap-metal yard in Cape Town. About 12 waste pickers arrive on foot everyday with their hauls Image: Ruvan Boshoff

Department of Environmental Affairs spokesman Albi Modise said that “extended producer responsibility would be in place for e-waste, lighting and the paper and packaging waste streams in 2017/18”.

Integration of waste pickers into the formal system “will depend on the readiness of each municipality” and what is “suitable for their circumstances”.

He added: “We do want to ensure the protection of waste pickers as vulnerable workers.”

I left my permanent job and now I earn more

“I look in a bin and I can tell you – this one needs one-and-a-half minutes, this one needs five minutes.” By 8am, Peter May’s trolley is weighed down.

He likes working on his own. “I had a permanent job but I left,” says May, 42. “I stopped working because people were lazy and the manager did nothing about it. I can’t do the work of five or six people.”

He starts at 5am and takes a break after three hours. “I earn more now than I did working for someone else because I work so hard,” he says.

“Even if it is raining or the wind is blowing, I am up at 4am. I must do this every single day to reach my R120 to support my family,” says Ryan Morgan, 34. “I work from 5am to 11am and take a break. Then I work again from 1pm to 6pm.” He has a wife and three children, who are four, eight and 12.

Ronelle Filies, 37, who sleeps outside Claremont police station, always puts on her apron before going through the bins. She hits the streets Monday to Friday at 5.15am, based on where Cape Town’s garbage trucks will be picking up refuse. At her side is Raymond Jacobs, 43.

“I want to change my life,” he says. “I have seen too many people dying from the cold winter.”

Source: www.timeslive.co.za
Image credit: www.timeslive.co.za

Office Depot launches BTS recycling

Office Depot has announced the launch of its Binder Recycling Programme, encouraging shoppers to help preserve the environment by recycling old binders.

Shoppers can bring any old empty binder to an Office Depot or OfficeMax retail location and receive a $2 instant discount off a same-day binder purchase.

The programme is in partnership with TerraCycle, a company whose primary objective is to recycle waste that is typically considered non-recyclable. Consumers find recycling to be the most easily understood component of sustainability, and Office Depot is partnering with TerraCycle to help consumers participate in the movement for a more sustainable planet.

“We’re excited to partner with TerraCycle this back-to-school season as parents, teachers and students prepare for the school year with new supplies,” says Ron Lalla, executive vice-president of merchandising for Office Depot.

“The programme provides a way to recycle binders in an environmentally conscious way while also offering a discount to shoppers who are looking for new ones.”

Customers can recycle as many binders as they wish and can receive instant discounts for up to six binders per day. The offer is only valid in-store at Office Depot and OfficeMax retail locations.

Source: www.businesswire.com

Just a quick scroll through your inbox and it won’t be long before your come across statements like “think before you print”; “please consider the environment – do you really need to print this e-mail?”; “go green – go paperless”; and “do your bit for the environment and choose e-billing”.

The misconceptions about print and paper are still a major issue for the industry.

As these messages are unsubstantiated, they are misleading and can have a lasting effect on consumer perceptions of print and paper.
The print and paper industry is a world leader when it comes to sustainably-managed materials, renewable energy and recycling.

Some of the most common myths surrounding paper are:

European forests are shrinking;
* Planted forests are bad for the environment;
* Paper is bad for the environment;
* Paper production is a major cause of global greenhouse gas emissions;
* Only recycled paper should be used;
* Print and Paper is a wasteful product;
* Electronic communication is more environmentally friendly than paper-based  communication;
* Digital is always the preferred means of communication; and
* Packaging is wasteful and unnecessary.

Some key facts about print and paper’s sustainability:

* Between 2005 and 2015, European forests grew by an area the size of Switzerland – that’s 1 500 football pitches every day;
* Europe recycles 72% of its paper;
* 84% of the industry’s raw materials come from Europe;
* Between 2005 and 2013, the CO2 emissions of the European pulp and paper industry were reduced by 22%; and
* 56% of the industry’s total primary annual energy consumption is biomass-based.

TwoSides has created a new fact sheet, full of alternative e-mail sign-offs, to help encourage individuals and businesses to use fair, factual and honest statements in their e-mails.
The company has come up with a number of alternative footers for you to consider:

* Print and paper is renewable, sustainable and powerful. If you print, please recycle.

* Printed emails create a permanent and sustainable record but please ensure all waste paper is recycled.

* Responsibly Produced Print and Paper is Renewable, Recyclable, and Powerful. Visit www.twosides.info for more information.

* Responsibly produced paper has unique environmental features. It is highly recyclable and comes from a renewable resource. If you print, please recycle.

* Print on paper is a practical, attractive, and sustainable communications medium. If you print, please recycle.

* In Europe there is no shortage of trees. Responsibly produced paper is a renewable and recyclable product and can be an environmentally sustainable way to communicate. If you print, please recycle.

* If you print, please recycle. Ensure you choose paper from companies that source fibre from well-managed, certified forests.

* Yes, it’s OK to print your emails – but please recycle waste paper.

We shouldn’t have to feel guilty about printing our e-mails. Just ensure that you use paper from certified or sustainably-managed forests, print double-sided and always recycle.

Source: www.twosides.info

 

Plastic five pound notes are about to be unveiled by the Bank of England which will be impossible to tear, can go through the wash and even survive having a glass of wine poured on them.

The polymer £5 note repels dirt and moisture and is designed to last for about five years, compared with between 18 months and two years for the cotton paper version which should save the Bank of England about £100-milliom over 10 years.

The design is being unveiled later this week while the notes themselves will not be released until September when about 44m of the notes will come into circulation, followed by plastic versions of other notes.

The new fiver, which will be 15% smaller than the current note, will feature Winston Churchill who replaces the 19th Century prison reformer Elizabeth Fry.

A plastic £10 note featuring author Jane Austen will be released next summer and a £20 note with a picture of the artist JMW Turner will be launched by 2020.

Victoria Cleland, 46, the Bank’s chief cashier, told the Sunday Times, the new notes were getting a good reaction from members of the public who had seen them.

She says: “They often says, ‘Wow, that’s really cool.’ You don’t often get ‘cool’ and ‘the Bank of England’ in the same sentence. They are more modern and I think they’re beautiful.”

But despite their resilience, the Bank is not encouraging anybody to give the new notes a spin.

Cleland says: “Yes, you can put them through washing machines but we’re not encouraging people to do that. We didn’t design them to go into washing machines: it is a fortunate by-product that they are more resilient [when washed].

“But clearly if you keep doing it at high temperatures you are going to destroy the poor note.”

Governor Mark Carney, revealed plans for polymer notes 11 weeks after joining the Bank of England in 2013.

He was head of the Bank of Canada when it introduced them in 2011 but the launch was overshadowed by rumours that the notes were scented after Canadians became convinced they could smell maple syrup on the money.

The Bank of England, which dealt with 240 000 counterfeit notes last year, hopes the new notes will be much more difficult for fraudsters to copy successfully.

By Nicola Bartlett for www.mirror.co.uk
Image credit: www.mirror.co.uk

In today’s age, the sustainability of the environment has become something everyone is, or should be, concerned with. It’s the norm to be eco-conscious about the food we eat, the products we purchase and the waste we recycle but it doesn’t just stop there. It extends into the workspace, something that veteran designer Giant Leap is well aware of.

Creating the green workspace and maximising both the economic and environmental performance of the space is a part of the process when you create an office space with Giant Leap. As a member of the Green Building Council, Giant Leap always recommends products in line with environmental regulations. All materials used (woods, paints, finishes) are volatile organic compound (VOC) free.

“We prioritise new materials that are durable, cost-effective and less harmful to human and environmental health. We also make sure we focus on interior solutions that consider energy efficiency and the use of recyclable products.”- Giant Leap.

“We also have a Green Building Council South Africa Accredited Professional who can ensure that our fit-outs are rated through the Green Building Council’s Interiors tool. The benefits of this are tremendous. Not only do organisations get a very prestigious certification that highlights their dedication to sustainability, but offices that are sustainability-rated have been shown to increase productivity, improve well-being and increase staff satisfaction.

“There is also a real return on investment, as research in South Africa has shown that Breen Star SA buildings enjoy energy savings of between 25% and 50%, compared to buildings designed to SANS 204 standards. In addition to this, Green Star buildings are showing higher rental rates of between 5% and 6%.”

But Giant Leap doesn’t just stop there a part of their philosophy is to support local too. They have a great working relationship with local manufacturers and help to upkeep local job stability. Ensuring that they are both socially and environmentally responsible.

Giant Leap is the right choice for creating cutting edge workplaces that are eco-conscious and have the best quality materials. From a company that works to bring you a design you will love to work in, and superior interiors that inspire innovation, Giant Leap makes people happier and business better.

Makro aims for sustainability

Since the Walmart deal, Massmart has struggled a bit, as Africa, with currencies shaky and commodities down, has failed to deliver immediately on the promise, and as ill economic winds buffet the local consumer.

Their 2015 results were not all that. But they’ve stuck to their guns in key areas, and this should make for steady improvement in the medium to long term.

One of these areas is sustainability, as embodied by the new Makro, the first to make use of renewable energy, in Carnival Mall, Jozi, where solar panels will produce 1-million kWhs of electricity every year, only a little of which will be consumed by the LED bulbs which make up 100% of the store floor lighting.

Daylight will be harvested, and refrigeration will be provided by high-performance CO2 plants.

The Zone @Rosebank has introduced a vertical living wall that runs alongside News Café, Bombay Blues and RocoMamas which are situated on the ground floor of The Zone Boulevard. At 90 square metres, the wall is the largest installation of its kind in Africa.

The wall creates a standout piece of natural beauty. The Zone Boulevard is part of the multi-million rand redevelopment to the Zone @ Rosebank shopping centre that started mid-2015.

This key architectural piece completes the concept of a seamless flow from indoors to outdoors within the “high-street shopping” ambience that The Zone @ Rosebank is synonymous for.

With space at a premium in our urban landscapes and open public gardens a luxury, creating a living wall is an excellent way to bring nature into the concrete jungle. “Living walls enable us to reclaim our natural surroundings and restore balance between humans and nature,” says Soné Verster, landscape architect for Organic Space, creators of the living wall.

“Not all plants thrive in a wall environment and we had to consider this when designing the feature,” says Verster. Over 30 plant species were used, including indigenous varieties such as the spider plant, Chlorophytum comosum. A felt pocket system was created to accommodate the soil, allowing for root growth and providing the required nutrients to the plants.

The cleverly integrated water feature forms part of the circulation system that irrigates the plants. “The water feature lends sound, texture and movement, and we’ve even seen the arrival of birds to the living wall,” says Wesley Scott, marketing manager of The Zone @ Rosebank. “It also adds greatly to the ambience of the space where customers will be enjoying the outdoor seating in front of some of their favourite restaurants.”

While the living wall has abundant aesthetic features, it’s also of practical use. The plants filter the air and help get rid of the emissions from passing cars. “We wanted to help neutralise some of the harmful effects of the city life”, says Anton Bieber, portfolio manager for The Rosebank Node at Old Mutual Property.

“And by introducing the living wall we were able to just that.”

The living wall also creates a perfect backdrop to the bustling atmosphere and has integrated The Zone Boulevard and The Zone @ Rosebank with this beautiful living installation, further complimenting all aspects that The Zone@ Rosebank is renowned for.

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