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Buying local food can help avoid another horsemeat scandal, says MP



Buying food from local sources will help retailers and consumers avoid scandals akin to the horsemeat contamination of British food products in 2013, the chair of the House of Commons environment committee has said.

In a statement to mark the anniversary of the first UK contamination coming to light, MP Anne McIntosh claimed shops needed to work towards “smaller supply chains” in order to make food more traceable.

This comes after an independent inquiry, undertaken in the wake of the horsemeat scandal by professor of food safety Chris Elliott and published in December, suggested the creation of a specialist crime unit to investigate organised crime in food supply chains.

Prof Elliott highlighted in particular the transportation of meat as being of highest risk and the storage of meat slabs. There is also a need for more food analysts to reduce the risk”, McIntosh added.

The horsemeat scandal emerged 12 months ago when Irish food inspectors found one product sold by Tesco contained almost 30% horsemeat. The supermarket published apologies in a number of national newspapers but was criticised by some commentators, who described its response as “inadequate and lacking in substance.

A lasagne dish from Findus, supposedly beef, was later revealed to be actually 60-100% horsemeat, as revelations and investigations filtered out from the UK and Europe.

In the UK, the environment committee has published five reports on the issue of food safety since the scandal emerged, calling for those responsible to be held to account and for the regulator, the Food Standards Agency (FSA), to be “more effective” in its role.

A year after the horsemeat contamination brought to light a number of food safety issues, the FSA is reportedly looking to crack down on non-UK food being labelled as British. Many commentators say this move is as a result of British consumers now feeling safer eating products produced domestically.

From an investment perspective, the horsemeat scandal revealed the complexities within the food supply chain. Hyewon Kong, senior analyst at WHEB Asset Management, said that as a result of the high-profile contamination, she envisaged changes on the consumer side, as well as an increased demand for food testing.

I read a lot about the weakened demand or consumption of beef and in particular, the sales of frozen burgers and frozen ready meals fell the most”, Kong said.

Tesco had the biggest problems with these contaminated products and its shares were hit when they subsequently reported weaker sales numbers last year. The recent Ipsos survey shows that around 30% of adults responded that the scandal has changed the way they buy and choose foods so this is creating a nice opportunity for fresh and natural food providers.”

Meanwhile, Mark Robertson from the membership organisation Sedex, which works to make supply chains more responsible and ethical, said issues of fraud and transparency remain across a year down the line.

The Elliot review into the integrity and assurance of food supply networks has called for a food system where there is zero tolerance for food fraud, so minor dishonesties are discouraged and the response to major dishonesties is punitive”, Robertson said.

To achieve this, companies must ensure that their expectations around product quality, safety and sustainability are communicated clearly down the entire supply chain. Companies need to get to know their suppliers, and focus on building long-term relationships which are based on trust and transparency.

If companies think they have a choice about supply chain transparency they are wrong. It’s coming. Images and footage of the Rana Plaza Factory collapse in Bangladesh hit the internet in minutes and news of the horsemeat food traceability scandal quickly spread well beyond the UK. There are lots of good examples of companies benefiting from closer relations with their suppliers – we’d urge others to follow their lead.”

In the immediate aftermath of the scandal, environment secretary Owen Paterson said how the presence of unauthorised ingredients like horsemeat in British food “cannot be tolerated. Speaking ahead of the one-year anniversary, though, Labour’s shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle said it was “worrying that not all the lessons appear to have been learned” since events first unfolded.

Further reading:

Defra: horsemeat in lasagne ‘cannot be tolerated’

Government scapegoating retail for horsemeat scandal is pathetic

The apology big food brands should be offering

Horsemeat scandal review: UK needs food police force

Post-horsemeat burgers, has Tesco returned to business as usual already?


New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035



renewable energy policy
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New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.


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How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



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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