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Education key to achieving a “zero waste” Scotland

Guest author, Jamie Mckenzie, writes how official statistics on household waste by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) continue to reflect the Scottish Government’s drive towards achieving Scotland’s ambitious waste goals.

Household waste regulation is a critical component of the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Plan. This is a waste policy strategy launched in 2010 with a vision for changing the individual, public and business mind-set towards viewing all municipal waste as a potential resource, not a dormant by-product of our activities.  

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Guest author, Jamie Mckenzie, writes how official statistics on household waste by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) continue to reflect the Scottish Government’s drive towards achieving Scotland’s ambitious waste goals.

Household waste regulation is a critical component of the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Plan. This is a waste policy strategy launched in 2010 with a vision for changing the individual, public and business mind-set towards viewing all municipal waste as a potential resource, not a dormant by-product of our activities.

Waste from households contributes only a 14.5% of Scotland’s total waste, with the remainder produced by the construction industry (43%) and the industrial and commercial sectors (39.5%).

The figures released by SEPA show that Scotland’s local authorities recycled 43.6% of the total household waste they collected between July 2011 and September 2011 – unchanged from the previous quarter for the whole of Scotland.

Scotland remains on track to achieving the municipal recycling and composting target set out in the Zero Waste Plan of 50% by 2013. By 2020, the target is 60%. But the Scottish government’s aspirations lie in being able to achieve an overall recycling and composting level of 70% with a maximum of 5% landfill for all Scottish waste by 2025.

The SEPA figures also showed variation occurring between individual authorities with regard to household recycling and composting rates. Some of the more positive cases included Perth & Kinross, (57%) Stirling (57.6%), East Renfrewshire (58.7%), and Fife (57.8%) Clearly, these areas show real promise, indicating that there is a real propensity for individuals in the rest of Scotland to recycle more at home and help Scotland reach its overall municipal waste recycling targets.

The SEPA figures shed some fresh light on the overall need for the Scottish government to stand by its mission set out in the Zero Waste Plan, that is, using education to change attitudes towards viewing waste as a resource rather than a problem by echoing the three step mantra – reduce, reuse, recycle.

Reducing the demand on primary resources will reduce extraction processes and save energy. Reusing products such as books, toys or clothes instead of sending them to landfill helps mitigate climate impacts by reducing the amount of methane emitted. And by recycling, waste materials can be reprocessed in to products or substances, which often requires less energy than creating something new from raw materials. And, of course, organic materials can be composted.

By living up to its individual responsibility to reduce, reuse and recycle, Scotland can help meet the critical targets set out by The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050.

In addition, waste unsuitable for reuse or recycling can be broken down through anaerobic digestion and used to supply electricity to the grid in the form of bio-energy. This can help contribute to the SNP’s target of generating 100% gross annual electricity consumption from renewable energy by 2020.
Taking those simple steps at home can bring real environmental and economic benefits– and a Zero Waste Scotland will also mean that businesses can reduce costs and operate more efficiently, while turning recovered materials in to high-quality products for market. This would help Scottish businesses and industries gain a competitive advantage and boost sustainable economic growth.

Through Government-funded programmes like Zero Waste Scotland, specific information is being supplied for individuals, communities and businesses on how to lower their environmental footprint. At home for instance, the love food hate waste campaign is a useful initiative that aims to raise awareness of the environmental and economic impact of food waste by providing practical hints and advice about how to reduce it.

The Zero Waste Scotland Volunteer Programme also helps train local volunteers and communities to take action together and make a vital contribution towards achieving the target of reducing waste to landfill to 5% by 2025.

On March 8, it was announced that the headquarters of the UK’s Green Investment Bank (GIB) will be based in Edinburgh, bolstering Scotland’s role in the UK’s transition towards a green economy. In addition to financing Scotland’s renewable energy projects, the £3 billion windfall of public money made available by the bank can support programmes like Zero Waste Scotland to educate more individuals and businesses about how to manage waste more usefully as a resource.

The Government must continue to focus on strengthening its efforts on delivering education about how to reduce, reuse and recycle in order to change individual attitudes and behaviours. In addition, integrating this effectively in to schools to give young people the information they need to make decisions on how they can help save the environment is essential.

The household recycling figures released by SEPA show that Scottish people are taking the Scottish governments drive towards a zero waste society seriously – but work must still be done – not just to continue educating individuals but to also ensure that businesses and organizations in the commercial sector are upholding their corporate responsibilities when it comes down to making their business practices sustainable.

If you, like Scotland, want to hit the target of 100% renewable energy for your home or business, you can achieve it well before 2025. Contact Good Energy to find out more.

Related links:

Rise of the Sustainable Home 2012

Recycling labels helping to make brands more sustainable

Britons are throwing away chances to recycle

Fund could introduce weekly food waste collection

Welsh recycling rates best in the UK

Every can really does count

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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