By Lisa Bowman for Metro
Image credit: Wrapt

Last year it was estimated that Brits would throw out 108-million rolls of Christmas wrapping paper. That’s a lot of waste.

Even the most well-intentioned of us may be unaware that the wrap we put in recycling isn’t actually recyclable, if it contains plastic, dye, foil, glitter or leftover sticky tape.

Most of us aren’t prepared to hand people unwrapped gifts – where’s the joy in that? – so thankfully there are eco-friendly wrapping routes we can take.

Most of them are so chic they’ll make it look like Pinterest threw up under your tree.

Recycled brown paper
Brown paper is one of your cheapest options, and yet has the most potential to look impressive – you just have to get crafty. You can get recycled brown paper at your local Post Office.
Limited budget/don’t have time to mess about with ribbons and foliage? Make it your own with wooden stamps.

Go DIY with old fabric
Got old Christmas tablecloths lying around the house? Christmas tea towels? Feel like making the most of the kitsch Christmas patterns in your local fabric shop? Wrap your presents in it!

Secure it by tying a knot as a bow, or by using eco twine or cut-up fabric as ribbon. Just ensure you get the fabric back to use again if the recipient doesn’t plan to use it.

Reusable fabric gift bags/bottle bags
Gift bags and bottle bags are such a waste – as soon as the gift’s been taken out, they’re usually chucked in the rubbish.
Did you know you can buy reusable fabric versions?
Sure, they’re expensive, but they’re made from 45% recycled fabric, and the maker promises that they’re durable enough to last a lifetime.
You just need to make sure you gift them to someone who’ll actualy re-use them.

Use magazines or newspaper
Chances are, you’ve got some old newspaper or magazines lying around the house – instead of chucking these straight in your recycling bin, why not give them a detour? A new life as gift wrap?

Obviously make sure the stories printed in the publication are, er, appropriate.

Regular wrap – make sure it’s recycled and recyclable
If you’re not into any of the above options, and simply want a more eco version of your usual minimal effort wrapping paper, then all is not lost.

All you have to do is make sure your gift wrap is recycled, and that it’s recyclable. Obviously this option is quite expensive and unless you’re made of money, they’re not likely to be an option for those who have a million kids’ presents to wrap.
So, if all else fails – at least make sure the wrap you use is fully recyclable, if it’s not made from recycled content itself.

Reuse old wrapping paper and gift bags
My mum used to laboriously pick off the sellotape from gifts and save the wrapping paper to use again. As a child, I thought she’d lost her mind but now, I see where she was coming from.
Keep a stash of old wrapping paper and gift/bottle bags, and save up ribbons and bows from gifts throughout the year.
They can cost a lot of money as well as the earth, so you may as well make the most of them!

Don’t forget your decorations
Shun the landfill fodder that is regular plastic ribbon – jazz it up with environmentally-friendly twine instead. Honestly, it looks super twee.
You can even make bows and ribbon out of old newspaper. Go full-on Pinterest by using cinnamon and foraged pine cones/foliage.
If you’re using brown paper, forget gift tags and simply write your message directly on the paper, or make gift
tags out of scrap card.
Plastic sticky tape can’t be recycled, so use an eco version like paper packing tape.
Happy gift wrapping!

By Michael Holder for BusinessGreen

Upcyclers turn old desks, chairs, and carpets into new office furniture, saving money and delivering environmental benefits.

Making sure products and materials can be used again – rather than going to waste – is good for for both businesses and the environment. That is the premise that underpins the concept of the “circular economy”, an emerging sector the government estimates could deliver £23-billionn a year of benefits to UK businesses if resources were used more efficiently.

For example, one third of our office furniture – 300 tonnes per day – ends up in landfill.

Firms such as Rype Office create sustainable furniture from items that would otherwise get thrown away and is employing ‘upcyclers’ across its growing business to help turn the circular economy vision into a reality.

By Maria Dermentzi for Mashable

Plastic Whale is a professional plastic fishing company that offers boat trips during which tourists — while sightseeing — will pick up plastic from Amsterdam’s canals. The plastic bottles that are being collected get turned into office furniture, in collaboration with Vepa.

By Penwell Dlamini for Times Live

If you thought e-tolls were a total nightmare for consumers‚ wait until you read the new regulations that have been proposed by the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa).

The Rules for Registration of Small-Scale Embedded Generation‚ the draft consultation paper published last week‚ will require you to register with Nersa before connecting your generator at your home.

The rules apply both to off-grid systems‚ with no connection to the national electricity system‚ and systems connected to the grid in any way – whether or not they are intended to feed electricity back into the grid.

Small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) includes generators‚ solar photo-voltaic panels and backup generators.

The rules state that no customer may connect to the distribution system (municipality or Eskom) without the following:

  • Submitting an application for registration to Nersa;
  • Receiving a quotation after the application from the distributor‚ paying the required connection charge/fees and signing the required connection and use of system agreement; and
  • Ensuring that the connection and the equipment used are certified to comply with all required technical standards.

Upon receiving the application and conclusion of the customer connection and use-of-system agreement with the distributor‚ the distributor will then send the information to Nersa for registration.

To complicate matters‚ it is only possible to register by way of an electricity distributor – either Eskom or a municipality – even for generators that are not due to be connected to such a distributor’s system.

The rules apply to all generators of less than 1 megawatt. Above that level‚ the law requires the same sort of licensing as for a full-blown power station.

Eskom or a municipality responsible for distribution also has its own responsibilities‚ which include the following:

  • Providing to the customer non-discriminatory access to its distribution system‚ except if there are objectively justifiable reasons;
  • Ensuring that the connection to the distribution complies with the licence conditions of the distributor‚ grid code and national requirements; and
  • Should the customer want to increase the supply to above 1 megawatts‚ the distributor will redirect the customer to apply to Nersa for a generation licence‚ provided that the distributor agrees with the applicant’s request to increase the supply and exemption has been granted by the Department of Energy.

Nersa said the regulations were aimed at meeting the economic objectives of the Electricity Regulation Act of 2006. The proposals are open for public comment until the end of May.

Day Zero for Cape Town has been pushed back by four days to April 16, 2018, DA leader Mmusi Maimane announced in a statement on Tuesday.

“This is crucial progress, and I offer my thanks and congratulations to all residents who have joined in this campaign to Defeat Day Zero with such commitment. Their efforts have shown fruit. We have started to push back Day Zero, and we can defeat it altogether if we keep going.”

According to the latest data, dam levels for Cape Town are 26.3% as at January 29, 2018, from 26.6% at January 26, 2018.

The average daily water production of all water sources is at 580 ml/d compared to the target of 450ml/d.

Check out News24’s special report on the water crisis

“This is great progress, but to truly Defeat Day Zero, we need to aim to cut consumption to 450 million litres a day,” said Maimane.

If Day Zero does arrives taps will be cut off, except in the CBD and commercial and industrial zones.

“Pushing back Day Zero by 4 days may not seem like a lot. But actually it is a significant victory. It shows that residents are coming together and cutting water consumption,” said Maimane.

The DA leader also announced that the City secured an additional 67 million litres a day for a period of approximately 60 days, commencing in early February.

This is part of the 120 million litre augmentation which we announced last week.

“Last week we expected this additional capacity to only come online by May, but now more than half will be available from early February. This speeding-up of water augmentation will help us greatly to Defeat Day Zero.”

Meanwhile, retailers are cashing in as panic-stricken Capetonians are buying bottled water in bulk.

Have a look at this infographic prepared by Digest to help people decide what they need potable water for and to manage it within their budget.

Purchasing water at R23 (currently the higher end of what Capetonians are forking out in the city) could see residents up spending about R20 000 on water for the next three months, according to Digest estimates.

What will happen when Day Zero arrives?

  • One week before the six dams providing water to the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS) are collectively expected to drop to 13.5%, the City will announce the date on which almost all the taps in Cape Town’s residential suburbs will be cut off.
  • Surrounding towns which are heavily reliant on these dams (such as Drakenstein, parts of Stellenbosch and towns on the West Coast) will likely also be turned off.
  • Municipal water may only be available at 200 Points of Distribution (PoDs) across the City.
  • The maximum allocation will be 25 litres per person per day, distributed on the assumption that an average family comprises four persons.
  • If every family sends one person to fetch their water allocation, about 5,000 people will congregate at each PoD every day.
  • Discussions are underway with SAB and the South African Bureau of Standards to sell water for R1 a quart (similar to a 750ml beer bottle)
  • The City’s Water and Sanitation Department will try to limi the impact on sanitation services to limit the risk of disease.
  • SAPS and the National Defence Force are being consulted to help maintain law and order with Law Enforcement at collection point.

Source: Cape Argus, CBN and News24 

Two Sides, the global initiative to promote the sustainability of print and paper, has reported a 61% success rate in persuading global organisations to remove misleading green claims from their communications as part of its worldwide anti-greenwash campaign.

601 of the world’s leading corporations, including banks, utilities, telecoms and insurance companies have been researched and checked by Two Sides, exposing 460 of those companies to be using misleading greenwash statements in their marketing and communications activities. To date, 278 of those offending companies have removed their misleading greenwash statements as a direct result of ongoing engagement by the Two Sides initiative.

Says Martyn Eustace, Chairman of Two Sides, “We’re really pleased that the ongoing efforts and lobbying of Two Sides is having such a significant effect on some of the world’s largest and most influential organisations. But there is no room for complacency, and there is still a great deal of work to do tackling the remaining companies that continue to mislead their customers.”

Major global corporations are still using inaccurate and misleading environmental claims to encourage consumers to ‘go paperless’ and switch from paper-based to digital communication. This is despite legislation being introduced by the advertising standards authorities in many countries to protect the consumer from being misled.“It’s extremely frustrating and unacceptable,” continues Eustace.

“Marketers in some of the world’s most high-profile corporations are resorting to unsubstantiated and misleading environmental claims to persuade consumers to switch from paper-based to cheaper electronic communication. Many consumers still have a strong preference for paper but they are being manipulated by a lack of clear and accurate information when in fact paper, based on a natural, renewable and recyclable resource, should be considered as a highly sustainable way to communicate.”

The worldwide Two Sides teams have maintained a ruthless determination to tackle greenwash in their respective countries with their ongoing activities paying dividends in the global anti-greenwash campaign. North America Phil Riebel, President of Two Sides North America, comments, “Over 88 major corporations, including many of the Fortune 100, have now changed or removed misleading environmental claims about print and paper to comply with country-specific environmental marketing guidelines. Our discussions with Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Sustainability Officers and others, have been very productive and we are pleased with the collaboration of America’s leading organizations. Thanks to an overall better understanding of the unique sustainable features of paper products, “go green – go paperless” and “save a tree” claims are gradually disappearing from the marketplace.”

Kellie Northwood, Executive Director, Two Sides, Australia and New Zealand, comments, “It is our responsibility as an industry, but also as part of broader environmental education, to challenge misinformation about the impact of communication channels. Greenwashing is one of the greatest threats to being truly sustainable and we work very hard to ensure companies making the wrong claims correct their communications. Of the companies we have contacted, 73% have altered their anti-print messaging, and the remaining we continue to engage with.”

“This year Two Sides Brazil has chosen the fight against greenwashing as a number one priority,” says Fabio Arruda Mortara, Country Manager for Two Sides in Brazil. Reaching an agreement with the Justice Tribunal of São Paulo, towards the withdrawal of the non-reliable contents of their printing manual, was probably our best achievement in 2017.

Brazil has just become the second largest pulp producer in the world, which makes the challenge to clarify our position, even more important. “In Brazil, the latest statistics show that net forest land area has increased substantially in the past 20 years”, adds Mortara.

Everyone in the world has the right to know that print and paper are not hostile to the environment and add immense value to our civilization.”
Deon Joubert, Executive Director, Two Sides South Africa, adds, “We continue to engage with corporates and government institutions regarding their environmental messaging to their customers and citizens. There remains a concern that conventional wisdom linking the use of paper to the destruction of forests remains prevalent and unchallenged. Not only are plantation trees grown to be harvested, just like any crop, these plantations provide commercial and surprisingly good environmental benefits to our world. In addition, in a recent Toluna research project conducted in South Africa, 92% of consumers want to be able to choose how they receive communication from corporates and government.”

Isabel Riveros, Executive Director, Two Sides in Colombia, comments, “During the first year of the campaign, we were able to make the Government remove any mention of ‘zero paper’ from their National Development Plan for the next four years. However, the big challenge continues. We must contact every company that is using greenwash, and make them understand that the process of paper production is a sustainable one.”

Jonathan Tame, Country Manager, Two Sides UK, adds, “We have a very active campaign to research and remove Greenwash in the UK, with a very encouraging response. 83% of all companies we have engaged have agreed to remove misleading messages and in many cases, we have helped organisations amend their marketing communication guidelines.” Eustace continues, “Consumers should not be misled and encouraged to go ‘paperless’ through the use of misleading ‘green’ marketing. The true picture of the excellent environmental benefits of paper is being overlooked by these false messages. Paper is a renewable and recyclable product that, if responsibly produced and used, can be a sustainable way to communicate. The forest and paper industries rely on sustainable forests and they are major guardians of this precious and growing resource.”

The Western Cape government has declared the entire province a disaster area in order to deal with the ongoing drought, MEC Alan Winde said on Monday.

The declaration was made to speed up the reaction time for the deployment of resources to tackle water scarcity, Winde told News24.

The deceleration will be formally gazetted during the course of the week after it was adopted by the provincial cabinet last week.

The Karoo and West Coast municipalities were declared a disaster area in 2016, but the disaster area has now been extended to the entire province.

“The disaster area declaration will help municipalities deal with issues of blockages in the procurement process to tackle the ongoing drought,” Winde said.

By James de Villiers for News24

We’ve all read the note on the bathroom stall – “please leave these restrooms in the condition you found them”. While the appearance of cleanliness and the pungent aroma of bleach gives us a sense that the toilets we use at work are sanitised, studies show this is not the case.

A report prepared by Crisis Science reveals that public restrooms (even “clean” ones) are contaminated by enteric bacteria (bacteria of the intestines). According to the report, the most contaminated areas in public restrooms were the toilet, floor, sink and sanitary napkin disposal. E. coli was most commonly isolated at the sanitary napkin disposal, drain in the sink basin, and inside the urinals. Mops used to clean restroom floors contained coliform bacteria, but not E. coli. Coliform and E. coli bacteria were found everywhere but the top of the urinal, including being detected on the paper towel dispenser, trash bin door and paper towel lever.

So why aren’t these “clean” restrooms sanitary? According to John J Coetzee, CEO at Green Worx Cleaning Solutions, the answer is simple. “All sanitising active ingredients used in toilet and urinal sanitisers are required to be in direct contact with the organism for a minimum period of time depending on the organism it is intended to kill. This is an absolute scientific fact. Simply spraying the sanitiser on (which is then flushed away) does not meet the minimum time required, and the product is diluted, further decreasing its efficacy.”

Coetzee encourages businesses to consider the health of their staff when considering restroom sanitation. “How much money is spent by corporate South Africa for a product or safety facility that may or may not actually do what the manufacturer says it can do? Are staff members actually safe? Are hygiene requirements being satisfied?”

To answer these questions, Coetzee conducted a urinal challenge, pitting traditional sanitising agents against green cleaning products that utilise enzymes and live, good bacteria to do the dirty work. “By incorporating a selected blend of highly active bacteria cultures, that are both non-volatile and non-corrosive, harmful organisms found in toilets and urinals were eradicated,” confirms Coetzee. “The active bacteria in these products grow at a faster rate than the harmful bacteria, and use the organic waste as a food source. This means they actually digest the harmful bacteria, leaving nothing behind.”

The key seems to be the “live agents” which spread around the area of application, rather than remaining only where the chemicals have been applied. According to an article released by Cleanlink, training is also essential; “The science of cleaning is important in all custodial applications, but it should be particularly prioritised in restrooms, where a unique and potentially dangerous mix of germs, bacteria and pathogens lurk. Cleaning and disinfecting restroom hot spots — including door handles, sink and counter areas, toilets and urinals, and floors — requires constant vigilance and attention to detail by a properly trained staff.”

Achieving a safe, sanitised space is crucial to occupants’ health and that of custodial and janitorial workers. “When nature offers a solution that cleans more effectively, is healthier than exposing staff to chemicals, and offers the added benefit of being environmentally friendly, it seems to be the only logical choice,” concludes Coetzee.

IoT could help traffic flow

The total cost of road traffic accidents across South Africa’s roads was estimated at R142.95 billion in 2016, equating 3.4% of GDP in that year. With Easter holidays approaching, these figures could increase if no effective drastic measures are taken. “These accidents put a strain on the country’s economy,” says Lawrence Kandaswami, MD at SAP South Africa. “It is important for all sectors, including the private sector, to understand the impact of these costs on the economy, so that we can develop strategies on how to partner with the public sector in managing the influx of a growing population in need of safe, reliable public transport.”

The Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to become a $1.46 trillion industry by 2020. This innovation will have a positive influence across all sectors of business, including public transport, security and in the provision of public healthcare. According to the United Nations, as much as 66% of the global population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050. This means that cities will face many challenges, mostly centred around having to leverage limited resources to deal with a growing influx of people needing services. Public transport is one of the many sectors that will experience strain because of high traffic volumes which can lead to increased road fatalities.
Solving traffic problems with an IoT mindset
Accessibility and safety of public transport is one of the major challenges facing modern urban centres. Navigant Research predicts that from 2025 onwards, public transportation itself will become more of an on-demand service, involving a more efficient use of buses. An IDC report also illustrates that there are 152,000 smart devices being used every minute globally, pointing to a future where the success of cities will be heavily determined by the level of smart and innovative technologies they use.

Additionally, a more citizen-centric business model for service delivery can help alleviate problems such as traffic congestion, safety and shortages of resources especially in public healthcare facilities. Citizens need tangible outcomes, enjoyable experiences and more personalised services. This is what will capture the hearts of many citizens across the continent.

“Smart traffic and IoT are critical for cities to operate more efficiently with better managed traffic flow and open lines of engagement between cities and citizens. This innovation offers the potential of a much safer and inclusive community with the amplified use of digital devices for municipal services across the country,” added Kandaswami.
In this age of innovation, cities are urged to think differently, have a clear vision of the city’s future and a digital transformation roadmap to get there. IoT, like other innovative technologies, presents cities such as Nanjing, China, with exciting fresh methodologies and real-time insights on finding new ways to connect, manage their operations better and provide real value to citizens.

Reimagining the ways cities work with IoT
South African cities stand to benefit immensely from IoT, especially with the high quality and speed that comes with network connectivity and infrastructure. The escalation in urbanisation and climate change is also putting pressure on cities’ management. These require speed and agility, to be able to respond in real-time to challenges such as road accident emergencies and service disruptions. “The biggest challenge we see, so far, is the adoption of technology into cities’ services models, the process requires an innovative technology platform with the ability to work with multiple data sources across all services while providing real-time insights for cities to make fast, accurate decisions,” says Kandaswami.

Cities need to capitalise on innovation opportunities by identifying solutions and planning better for natural disasters and emergencies. Connectivity and data analytics will play an increasingly critical role in helping cities and governments to provide more efficient and effective healthcare, transport and security services, using real-time technology platforms such as SAP S4/HANA.

Big data drives smart traffic
There are three key factors contributing to a smart traffic city namely; people (both drivers and passengers), vehicles and road infrastructure. Innovation is transforming how these key factors could operate harmoniously. As an example, organisations such as Keifuku Bus Company in Japan provide services and solutions that are putting people first using the SAP connected transport safety technology, which allows for data sharing amongst most major cities that are installed with traffic light sensor technologies to ensure a smooth flow of traffic. Innovation helps city managers make decisions for traffic planning and policies fast.
“SAP is convinced that, with the amount of traffic data available in South Africa alone, we could help measure, analyse and manage traffic volumes much better, by using technology and taking advantage of the traffic big data. The ability to analyse traffic big data will help cities consolidate different data sources into a single reliable source for better traffic management, reporting and insight,” explains Kandaswami.

The current South Africa road traffic data availability is not integrated, as it is collected from multiple sources which makes the quality of data unreliable. According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation of South Africa, having a quality comprehensive traffic management system is vital for accurate data collection, analysis and reporting across all factors including human casualties and related costs.

“Leveraging technology will present cities, transport authorities with innovative ways of how to improve road safety, provide sustainable, efficient public transport, manage traffic flows and speed up response time to the inevitable challenges of rapid urbanisation.”

South Africa’s new nuclear programme will start in June, according to a report by the City Press.

A confidential document reveals that a formal request for proposals from companies will be issued, with the total contract worth an estimated R1 trillion.

The nuclear deal going forward is directly related to President Jacob Zuma firing finance minister Pravin Gordhan, as Gordhan was against the project, stated the report.

The Sunday Times also reported that Eskom tabled a presentation to the National Treasury indicating it was ready to buy nuclear power two days before Zuma fired Gordhan.

The successful bidder will be appointed in March 2018.

“Ratings agencies Fitch and S&P Global Ratings have cited the nuclear project as one of the reasons for South Africa’s downgrade,” stated the report.

A concern from Treasury officials is that the nuclear plan allows for “turnkey procurement”, which “is often used to hide corruption”.

This allows the management company to appoint all contractors and service providers.

National Treasury recently denied allegations that a nuclear deal was signed by new finance minister Malusi Gigaba, following a post on Facebook by an ANC member.

The member also alleged that Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse Zuma would benefit from nuclear plants being built.

Source: www.businesstech.co.za

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