Thursday, 31 January 2019

The world's first recycling mall, revolutionizing shopping in a climate-smart way.

A very impressive example of retailing:

World's First Recycle Mall- ReTuna in Sweden

As featured this week on the BBC's World Service:

The Shopping Mall Where Everything is Recycled

There are 14 specialist shops at the Retuna shopping mall in Eskilstuna, Sweden, but they all have one thing in common. Every item for sale in the shopping centre is second-hand. 
The clever thing about this mall is its location. It is right next to the city’s refuse and recycling centre. When people come to drop off mattresses and cardboard, they also pass by the mall’s basement to leave unwanted items that can be resold – or indeed items that can be ‘upcycled’, given a new lease of life as a different kind of object. Every shop is run as a money-making business, rather than a charity. 
The mall also hosts a college that offers a one-year certified course in upcycling, hoping to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs who believe in sustainability. 
Presiding over the whole enterprise is Anna Bergstrom. Her mission is to make second-hand shopping a mainstream experience – even one that’s a little bit glamorous.

BBC World Service - BBC World Hacks, The Shopping Mall Where Everything is Recycled

And here's their website:

The world’s first recycling mall is found in Eskilstuna

ReTuna Återbruksgalleria is the world's first recycling mall, revolutionizing shopping in a climate-smart way. Old items are given new life through repair and upcycling. Everything sold is recycled or reused or has been organically or sustainably produced.

About ReTuna

"What is democracy?"

A new documentary is out asking perhaps the crucial question of our time:
What is Democracy? :: Zeitgeist Films

WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? Trailer | TIFF 2018 - YouTube

It has been extensively reviewed:
What Is Democracy? review – searing analysis of who's really in control | Film | The Guardian
‘What Is Democracy?’ Review: Going Back to Greece, Documentary Asks Who Rules - The New York Times
A New Film Offers a Multitude of Answers to the Question “What Is Democracy?” | The New Yorker

Including by the Baffler:

Wrestling with the Demo(n)s

A new documentary examines just how democracy has come to . . . this

Still from What is Democracy? (2018) | Zeitgeist Films

“It must be there, concealed in the broth of unbeing.”
–B. Catling, The Vorrh
I’VE NEVER BEEN to the Acropolis of Athens, never climbed the steps to the Parthenon, never stood in the Theater of Dionysus wondering what it smelled like—and whether bugs sang in the grass—when Greek Tragedy was born. During the opening credits of Astra Taylor’s new documentary, though, I get to watch others doing it for me. Nameless tourists trot along the sun-dried bones of history—they stop, they gaze, they point, they take pictures. They sweat. They are the eyes and hairy ears of the present.
In the background, a cello is playing. Shot after shot passes away into nothing. Under the shade of olive trees, a couple plods listlessly up some steps while an army officer glides towards the screen. A man in a white cap does some stretches among the rubble of two-plus millennia while a woman in a white cap looks at a brochure. It’s all incredibly pallid and, I dunno . . . disturbing.  
There’s something very familiar about it, too. On the surface, this whole opening montage harkens back to just about every grainy tape every civics teacher ever played to their class when it was time to have a serious talk about the D-word. If you strip away the higher production qualities, that’s exactly what it feels like. What Is Democracy?, the title sequence asks, as your eyes are guided through what you’ve long been told are the ancient remnants of its glorious birth. Yes, this is where it all began. Drink it in, kids.
As with any democratic encounter, you’re being given a choice here. Over the next hour and forty-seven minutes, Taylor—a Baffler contributing editor—will take you back and forth across the Atlantic, between Greece and the United States (with the occasional layover in Italy). The contrast is baked in: on one side, trembling with an almost divine aura, we have the real, historical traces of capital-D Democracy, an idea that changed the world; on the other side, we have us, now. We have this. We have pain and anger, greed and power, division and want—life amid the daily roar of some rough beast that has devoured democracy and now wears its skin. Taylor’s documentary comes across as a collection of such contrasts, and you are given the choice to take this as the ultimate, definitive one—she’s not going to coerce you. We never do get a clear answer to the question posed in the title, after all. Still, it is painfully tempting to watch the film and imagine that, whatever democracy is, it’s something we’ve lost—some secret held within these ancient Athenian ruins, some beautiful corpse lying way down there, unable to answer us from beneath the frozen sea of history. It’s tempting to see it as a documentation not of what is, but what was. It has all the trappings of an autopsy.
But underneath all of this—or rather, above it—there’s another, starker contrast that animates, I think, the soul of the question Taylor is asking. It’s not a contrast between then and now, one place and another, one system of governance and another, one set of philosophical principles and another. The contrast is there, in the opening credits, striking viewers from the outset—in a single geographical site overlaid with juxtaposing traces of democratic possibility and soul-sucking boredom. It’s in every history textbook, every ceremonial rendition of the national anthem, every class field trip to Washington, D.C., every blinking, screaming American warhead sawing the sky open. It’s the eternal contrast between democracy as an artifact, a territory, a thing to be put under glass, preserved, and patrolled, and Democracy as a way of being in the world, a striving to be better, a thing to be lived and fought for every day, over and over again. A thing that that is no-thing, that does not exist, will not exist, will recede back into the dark broth of historical unbeing, if left unattended, if not tenderly and ferociously and endlessly midwifed into existence by the hands and hearts of the people.
This is the real power of Taylor’s documentary. She propels her investigation into the Big Question by approaching it with a fragmentary quality. If you let it, this fragmented and necessarily incomplete account of democratic possibility will tell you everything you need to know, everything that is gestured at but never fully said by anyone onscreen. If you stop trying to weigh up each scene—each time, each place, each people—in comparison with the others, if you halt your natural impulse to impose some stenciled narrative symmetry connecting everything, something else begins to emerge. If you let go of them, these fragments begin to float and burn and glow with a sense of latent fullness that connects them to each other—and to you, no less than the static on your television connects you to the stars in the sky.
But letting go is not easy. It takes gentleness; it takes patience. Jumping from that ancient then to our burning now, from there to here, from them to us, you start to get frustrated, and then you get even more frustrated. As scene after scene piles up, it’s increasingly difficult to hold together what seemed at first to be the clear, guiding purpose of these apparent contrasts. Your sense of what one side was meant to tell you about the other starts to dissolve. Whatever heuristic power that democratic past was supposed to give us to better interpret our decidedly un-democratic present turns to salt in your hands. Whatever particle of truth you had isolated and catalogued as native to one place in time suddenly shows up in another. Everything is contaminated. Then you start to think, well, perhaps, you’re testing for the wrong things. Perhaps there’s a reason nothing seems to . . . fit. What you thought were puzzle pieces appear, instead, to be shards of glass, pieces of some great broken thing that was never whole to begin with.  
That’s what this documentary consists of: pieces. Bits. Slices. Instead of a single narratorial voice, for instance, we get scraps of Plato written on the screen. Instead of authoritative, sweeping definitions of democracy, we get fragments of discussions with thinkers like Silvia Federici, Wendy Brown, and Cornel West. We watch them reach into the dark, trying to wrap their brains around it, trying to articulate the most burning questions of democracy’s rise and decline—Is democracy synonymous with majority rule? Can it exist without excluding some group that doesn’t belong? What if most people don’t actually want democracy?—in the hopes that doing so will perhaps bring us closer to its feeble light. It feels like everyone is trying to draw a suspicious animal out of some dark, infinite forest.
We get more, piece by piece. We get chunks of scenes and shreds of voices from a Moral March in Raleigh; a barber shop in Miami; a self-managed, volunteer-run Greek health clinic; a worker-owned co-op in North Carolina that employs predominantly Mayan immigrants from Central America; a hospital trauma ward in Miami; a protest in the wake of police officer Brentley Vinson’s killing of Keith Lamont Scott; a port in Greece where Syrian refugees disembark daily from slow-floating hulks.
It’s in this way that Taylor—quite masterfully—cinematographically supplements all that is said and implied about democracy by luring out into the open a sense that everything you are seeing contains the democratic seed of what could and must be. Even in scenes that lay bare the vile work of avaricious demons hellbent on dividing and destroying and subjugating the demoseverything trembles with urgency and unknowing. There’s urgency in the sense that whatever residues of democratic life we may have inherited are rapidly becoming desiccated and hollowed out. There’s unknowing as we look fearfully and try to make out what ominous shadows are on the horizon. And this, we begin to sense, is when it is most possible to finally circle around the truth of democracy. Because for the future to be known, possibility must die, and democracy is nothing if not possibility—the possibility that we can live more democratically. As Taylor makes painstakingly clear, that possibility will recede if we do not feel it, and act on it, urgently. Because the need for us to lend our hands and aid in the birth of a more democratic way of being only ever disappears when—by force, choice, or fatigue—we abdicate our role in making the world; that is, when we hand the world over to others.   
Perhaps nowhere is this felt more painfully—and more urgently—than in a scene where Taylor is talking with a table of students, all black, at a school in Miami. It’s made immediately clear that they have learned about democracy in ways that are functionally no different from learning about different categories of invertebrates. Democracy is, for them, an artifact, an abstract term for government. Democracy as a way of life, a way of acting and living together, has never been part of the curriculum.
“The idea of democracy is that the people rule,” Taylor says to the them. “And, so, that’s what I wanted to talk to you guys about . . . how do you feel? Do you feel like have a say in your school? Is that a place where you feel like you have any say over how things go?”
You know what their answer is going to be. And you feel almost as incredulous as they are that Taylor would even ask the question. That is why it’s so damn important to ask it. Of course they don’t feel like they have a say in how the school is run. And that’s not even the half of it. The students detail how it is standard practice for their wants and needs to go completely ignored, or worse. When they broach the question of collectivizing and exercising some semblance of democratic consensus-making on the issue of lunches not being served cold, the students quickly point out that they are routinely punished for such things. “If you try to go against them, they take away something we like,” one student says. “Same here,” another chimes in. “We said we wanted better lunch and they took away the vending machines.”
For the rest of their lives, when these now-students reflect on that elusive question—What Is Democracy?—what lessons from their formative years do we think will stick? How and where will they have learned to live democratically? And what about us? Can we honestly say that we live much differently?
In the same queasy mood of uncertainty evoked by the civics-class-video aesthetic of the opening credits, we are left stewing in some gross, unnerving sense that democracy, whatever it is, is something we are conditioned, always, to look for elsewhere. In ancient Athens, in the events and times and places listed in our history textbooks, behind the closed doors of some government office far, far away. We are always looking away, looking back. 
If Taylor’s documentary communicates one thing, it’s that there is no “back.” There is no democracy and never was. There is only struggle—here, now, always. Only from afar, only in the rearview mirror, only when time has torn the bones of history from the living tissue of what was once a messy, conflictual, not-democratic-enough present—only then does the fiction emerge of a democracy that can exist somehow, sometime, somewhere outside of the never-ending fight for a more democratic life. Such a notion of democracy was as fictional then as it is now. And now—as with every now captured in Taylor’s documentary, as with every now that ever is, was, and will be—is a time of struggle. Now is a fleeting possibility. Now is a momentary site of democracy’s potential emergence, an urgent chance to bring it forth, to fight for it, to midwife its eternally dying light from the jaws of unbeing. And time is running out—it always is.


Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Devon Maritime Forum > Winter 19 meeting > Tuesday 5th February > 'Blue Health + Blue Action'

The Devon Maritime Forum is getting very active:
Futures Forum: Devon Maritime Forum new year news

And in a couple of weeks time, we'll see their Winter Forum happening:

Dear Forum members

Just a gentle reminder that ***REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN*** for the forthcoming Devon Maritime Forum Winter 19 meeting ‘BLUE HEALTH + BLUE ACTION’, which will take place a week today on Tuesday 5th February 2019 at the spectacular Saunton Sands Hotel

A truly excellent and packed  Programme has been put together  and it promises to be a lively, interesting and informative day.

Places are limited so BOOK NOW.  To register please contact Rowena Garne at County Hall on 01392 382804 (Mon-Fri, 0900-1630) who will take your payment via card.

Blue Health + Blue Action
In early 2018, a discernible ‘Blue Planet’ effect was taking place.  The global broadcast of the BBC’s Blue Planet II series and its succession of stories and images that both amazed, inspired and appalled, generated a new wave of marine awareness and action, that placed the health of our oceans, and the urgent need to do something to protect them, firmly in the public eye.

As 2018 unfolded it seemed as if every month we were presented with new evidence about the unsustainable impact we are having on our global ecosystems and new dire warnings about the catastrophic consequences this impact will have on the health of our ‘blue’ planet and on our own health and well-being.

Now in early 2019, it seems more urgent than ever to harness the tide of public interest in the health of our ‘blue’ environments and for us to take individual and collective action: to do something that makes a difference.  What better time too to resolve to be more active, to engage with, and to enjoy our stunning marine and coastal environments.

After an extended sabbatical the DMF is back for 2019 with a meeting that focuses on the themes of Blue Health and Blue Action.

In our morning sessions we will be exploring the notion of ‘Blue Health’, both in terms of examining the quality or health of our marine and coastal environment and by looking at the critical role these environments and spaces can play in supporting and improving human health and well-being.  We will get a spectacular visual introduction to the day and our marine environment from marine photographer and author Dr Paul Naylor.  We will hear from Prof. Richard Thompson a world leading expert on marine litter, and from Dr. James Szymankiewicz a local GP and Chair of the Devon LNP, on the value and need for ‘Blue Space’, as well from many other key organisations responsible for monitoring and managing the health of our marine and coastal environments and for promoting their health benefits  (e.g. Environment Agency, Natural England, South West Water, RYA)

In the afternoon our attention will turn to ‘Blue Action’.  Inspired by Defra’s 2019 Year of Green Action (YoGA) and in collaboration with Devon Local Nature Partnership, #DMF2019 will be providing an opportunity to both showcase a range of existing local initiatives as well as providing a collaborative space and platform for discussing and issuing our call to Blue Action.

As with previous DMF events our #DMF2019 meeting will be characterised by the quality of its speakers and the timeliness of the issues addressed.  It provides a unique opportunity to network and discuss not only the day’s agenda but all things marine and coastal.

There will be a dedicated market area where, for a small fee, you can display your organisation’s promotional material e.g. pop-up banners, brochures, merchandise etc. For more information please contact us at dmf@devon.gov.uk

How to Register
To guarantee your attendance registration should be made in good time. The registration fee is £35 and covers lunch and refreshments for the day.

There is no registration form for this event. To secure your place please contact Rowena Garne at County Hall on 01392 382804 (Mon-Fri, 0900-1630) who will take your payment via card.

If you wish to pay by cheque you will still need to contact us to reserve your space. Please make cheques payable to Devon County Council. Cheques should be sent to Devon Maritime Forum, c/o Steve Guilbert, AB3 Lucombe House, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter, EX2 4QW. Please write the names of all delegates and your organisation on the back of the cheque.  Please quote Devon Maritime Forum 2019 when registering. Booking will require your name (or name of attendee if different), organisation and contact details. If making a payment for more than one delegate, please have this information for each attendee. Any special requests or dietary requirements should be mentioned at the time of booking.

Dr. Steven Guilbert
Devon Maritime Forum Coordinator
County Hall
Exeter, EX2 4QW

Tel:  +44 (0) 1392 383447
Mob:  +44 (0) 7870 223264

Working week: Mon - Fri (08.00 - 12.00)

Home - Devon Maritime Forum

Plastic bags or paper bags?

Why not replace plastic bags with paper bags?

Here's a defence of the plastic bag in terms of environmental impact:
All About Bags - Paper Versus Plastic Bags - Which is More Environmentally Friendly?

Meanwhile, supermarkets in the UK are going ahead to reduce plastic:
Are paper bags really better for the planet than plastic bags? | The Week UK

For example: 

Morrisons is introducing 20p paper bags, and Waitrose will spend £1m on tackling plastic pollution

The supermarket hopes customers will reuse and eventually recycle the environmentally friendly paper bags

US-style paper grocery bags, priced at 20p (Mikael Buck/Morrisons /PA Wire)

Monday January 28th 2019

Morrisons and Waitrose will today each step up their attempts to curb plastic waste, with the former introducing paper carrier bags to stores and the latter unveiling a £1m grant fund to tackle the environmental problem.

US-style paper carrier bags will be trialled in eight Morrisons stores this week following a poll of its customers that found reducing plastic waste was their number one environmental concern.

Recyclable paper bags

The paper bags have handles and are a similar capacity to standard plastic carrier bags. Priced at 20p each, they are also 100 per cent PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) accredited, meaning they are sourced from forests that are managed responsibly.

Morrisons is encouraging shoppers to reuse and eventually recycle them.

The supermarket did away with 5p plastic carrier bags in 2018, leading to a 25 per cent reduction in overall bag sales. They were replaced by 10p bags made from recycled material from Morrisons stores. From this week the price of the standard plastic carrier bag will go up to 15p.

Morrisons supermarket introduces US-style paper grocery bags 

Ultimately, it's what you do with these bags - whether plastic or paper:

Plastic or paper: Which bag is greener?

But the key to reducing the impact of all carrier bags - no matter what they are made of - is to reuse them as much as possible, says Margaret Bates, professor of sustainable waste management at Northampton University.

Many people forget to bring their reusable bags on their weekly supermarket trip, and end up having to buy more bags at the till, she says.

This will have a much bigger environmental impact compared with just choosing to use paper, plastic or cotton.

Plastic or paper: Which bag is greener? - BBC News

Plastic bags: "The public want to recycle, but local authorities are failing to do their bit by making it possible."

The council has said that it has to burn any plastic which doesn't end up in its recycling systems:
Futures Forum: District Council and plastic pollution >>> Sending plastic to the correct reprocessor: a follow-up FOI request >>> "Information not held"
Futures Forum: District Council and plastic pollution >>> What percentage is recycled, what percentage is incinerated and what percentage goes to landfill? Some answers received...
Futures Forum: Plastic waste > East Devon's "high quality recycling now being transported to processing plants across the UK and Europe" > but where exactly does my recycling go?

This is because councils can't deal with much of the plastic:
Futures Forum: Councils cut plastic recycling
Futures Forum: "Poor quality of waste collected" in Devon
Futures Forum: "Rubbish rubbish collection" in East Devon

Which means nobody is dealing with much of this plastic:
Futures Forum: "The reason we have a dearth of good quality recycled material is because we have such poor collection infrastructure."

There are suggestions to improve the situation:
Futures Forum: Plastic and councils: there is no one-size-fits-all solution OR a “barmy” mass of different local approaches to recycling
Futures Forum: Plastic and councils: introducing national recycling standards
Futures Forum: Simplifying councils' household recycling collections in the government's resources and waste strategy

A big problem is that there are too many bags made of plastic which is too difficult to recycle - where ever the bags turn up: 

Why is so little plastic actually recycled?

August 3, 2018

A group of Danish and Swedish researchers have now tackled this exact question. Their answer? Money.

By: Nancy Bazilchukbased on an article by Bård Amundsen

Plastic waste includes grocery bags, cheese packages, food bags, containers, boxes and bottles. About 95 per cent of all Norwegians currently have access to the collection of plastic recycling, according to Grønt Punkt Norge. Nevertheless, roughly two-thirds of all household plastic likely ends up in the trash. The photo shows the Haraldrud recycling station in Oslo. (Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix)

Recycling is not just about consumers separating used plastics, paper, metal and glass into the right bin. It’s all about markets for our used goods.

A group of researchers decided to figure out why most plastic that is recycled in the Nordic countries eventually finds its way into the trash. The bottom line answer is simple: It’s just not profitable enough to use recycled products.

Markets don’t work

The researchers decided to look at the different parts of the value chain for plastic, in pursuit of clues for why plastic isn’t sought after as recycled material.

The biggest obstacle, they found, is that it is not profitable enough to make new products from used plastic.

Additionally, the market for recycled plastic simply doesn’t work. People who have recycled plastic to sell and people who need different types of plastics have a hard time finding each other. This is because the market for reusable products is so fragmented.

Plastic is too cheap

"Plastic is a material that is very suitable for recycling, as long as it is good quality," says Kari Anne Lyng, a researcher at Østfold Research. She did not participate in the new study, but studies the environmental impacts of products such as plastic.

Since new plastic is so cheap to produce, it can be difficult for recycled plastic to compete, she says.

"There are also a lot of different types of plastic. When plastic is collected from households, everything is put in the same container. This plastic must be sorted. And some trash may find its way into the mix, too,” she said.

"My particular feeling is that it's good that we make people recycle. But to get the maximum environmental benefits out of recycling, there must also be a market out there for what we want to recycle," she says.

More profitable to burn plastic

The researchers behind the new study interviewed many individuals from the recycled plastic industry in Denmark and Sweden. Several of the people who were interviewed said they believed it is very important to get the recycled plastic market to work better. Many also mentioned the need to reduce the number of different plastic types and as well as to reduce the number of different additives in plastic.

They also pointed out that it is currently more profitable to burn used plastic with other waste in an energy recovery plant to make electricity or for district heating than to recycle the plastic.

Why is so little plastic actually recycled? | ScienceNordic

The i newspaper has looked at the issues: 

Households using billions of throwaway plastic bags for bread, fruit and veg that aren’t recycled

'The public want to recycle, but local authorities are failing to do their bit by making it possible,' Baroness Jenny Jones says

A shopper looks at a shelf of vegetables wrapped in plastics at a grocery store (Photo: Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)

Friday January 25th 2019

Households are using billions of throwaway plastic bread and fruit and veg produce bags a year – the vast majority of which aren’t being recycled, i can reveal.

Only one in 10 local authorities recycle plastic ‘film’ – which also includes plastic bags for frozen food, pet food, confectionery, cereal and toilet rolls as well as shrink wrap and magazine wrappings – according to the Recoup recycling charity.

It accounts for a quarter of all household plastic waste by weight and includes more than 3.5 billion bread bags and 1.3 billion fruit and veg bags a year. UK consumers use nearly three quarters of a million tonnes of it a year, almost all of which is incinerated.

“I’m deeply concerned that so much of our everyday lightweight plastic isn’t getting recycled – that has to change,” said Green Party peer, Baroness Jenny Jones.

“The public want to recycle, but local authorities are failing to do their bit by making it possible,” she said.

Hard to recycle

Plastic film is rarely recycled by councils because it’s difficult and costly to do so, MPs say. It typically has a much larger surface area than harder plastic items such as bottles and tubs – while also being much lighter. This makes it far more economic for cash-strapped local authorities – 47 per cent of which had their waste and recycling budget cut last year – to focus on harder plastics and to overlook film, they say.

“These plastic bags have been ignored by policymakers because they are so light that they don’t make a huge contribution to our recycling goals. They are not really part of the municipal set of objectives,” said Mary Creagh MP, chair of the cross party Environmental Audit Committee.

“But they are hugely damaging if they get into the environment, where they can ensnare wildlife,” she added.

Carrier bags ‘also need improvement’

As well as the vast numbers of fruit, veg and bread bags that aren’t getting recycled, nearly 2 billion supermarket bags-for-life and single-use carrier bags are going unrecycled because only one in five UK councils recycle them, according to Wrap, the waste and resources charity.

Carrier bag use has reduced dramatically since the 5p carrier bag charge was introduced but there is still much scope to cut their use further and to recycle far more of them, campaigners said.

Plastic bags of all types can blow from bins or landfill sites into the street and on into fields and rivers, eventually finding their way into the sea, causing problems for wildlife along the way.

Plastic tax

Retailers say they are making their packaging easier to recycle and switching to alternative materials in some cases (Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)

An Environment Department spokesman said: “We are driving further, faster action with our landmark Resources and Waste Strategy which will cut our reliance on single-use plastics and help tackle the problem of packaging by making producers pay the full cost of recycling or disposing their packaging waste.”

The government has also proposed a tax from 2022 on all plastic packaging – including film – that isn’t made from at least 30 per cent recycled material.

It hopes that forcing supermarkets and manufacturers to foot the bill for disposing of the plastic they generate and increasing the amount of recycled material they must use will provide an incentive to improve infrastructure and recycling rates for plastic film.

Meanwhile, a government proposal to bring greater consistency to recycling and collection across all UK local authorities should reduce household confusion about what they can’t and can’t recycle and make film recycling easier, campaigners said.

Local Government Authority environment spokesman Councillor Martin Tett said: “The best way to boost recycling rates is to prevent unrecyclable waste from entering the environment in the first place.”

“Councils are keen to work with supermarkets and manufacturers so that they can switch to recyclable packaging where possible,” he said.

What should be done to reduce plastic film waste?

The ultra-thin plastic bags used in supermarkets for loose fruit and vegetables should be banned and replaced by paper and reusable cotton bags, MPs and campaigners say. Supermarkets give out 1.3 billion plastic produce bags a year and pre-wrap hundreds other lines such as avocados and tomatoes in plastic ‘film’. Critics say much of packaging this is unnecessary and want to force supermarkets and customers to use alternative materials where possible.

“We took a big step forward when we dramatically reduced the use of plastic bags because the government put a charge on them,” said Green Party peer, Baroness Jenny Jones. “It’s time we followed through with a combination of further charges and also a straightforward ban on plastic packaging where there is an obvious alternative,” she said.

Greenpeace UK plastics campaigner Elena Polisano added: “Supermarkets must immediately take bold steps to eliminate unnecessary packaging for fruit and vegetables and switch away from using problem plastics for things like bread packaging to opt for easily recyclable materials instead.”

The Government also said the supermarkets should look to cut their plastic use. “All companies, including supermarkets, have a clear responsibility to cut unnecessary packaging, reduce waste going to landfill and increase the amount of this waste that’s recycled,” a government spokesman said.

‘Significant responsibilities’

The local government association’s environment spokesman, councillor Martin Tett said: “Producers have significant responsibilities to the communities and environments in which they operate. It’s only fair that they contribute to the cost of clearing up packaging made from types of plastic that are difficult to recycle.”

Peter Andrews, head of sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, pointed out that supermarkets had already taken great strides to reduce their throwaway plastic use, cutting down on items such as straws, stirrers and cotton buds. They are also improving make their packaging easier to recycle and switching to alternative materials in some cases.

The Environmental Services Association, which represents the waste companies, acknowledged the level of plastic film recycling was too low.

Jakob Rindegren, the association’s recycling policy advisor, hopes that government proposals to improve waste management by making supermarkets and manufacturers pay for disposing their waste “should encourage producers to ensure their packaging is recyclable either through packaging design or providing funding to new collection or recycling solutions.” At the moment, producers only have to pay 10 per cent of the cost.

Households using billions of throwaway plastic bags for bread, fruit and veg that aren't recycled - inews.co.uk

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Finalising the Local Government Finance Settlement > "finalising the government's next round of cuts to councils"

We've been a little distracted by other goings on in parliament - but the housing minister has made a statement:
Final local government finance settlement: England, 2019 to 2020 - GOV.UK

The left-leaning New Statesman is not impressed: 

Amid Brexit vote chaos, the government quietly finalises council cuts

29 JANUARY 2019

It chose today to sneak out a written statement on the final Local Government Finance Settlement.


A bus-ted flush.

In what’s becoming a bleak pattern, the government chose today – Theresa May’s second attempt to pass her Brexit deal – to finalise its next round of cuts to councils.

Ministers outlined the provisional local government finance settlement for 2019-20 last December. But they chose today to announce its final plans for short-term local government funding – in a written statement ,the subtlest form of government announcement, by the Communities and Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire.

After eight years of austerity, cash-strapped councils have been waiting for the government to use its final settlement this month to provide the resources they desperately need for funding public services in 2019-20. But the new settlement – sneaked out while Westminster is distracted by Brexit – doesn’t deliver what councils need.

As first announced in the Budget, the government is releasing extra chunks of funding for social care and potholes, as well as more money for high streets. The government calculates that its settlement adds up to a rise in core spending power for councils from £45.1bn in 2018-19 to £46.4bn in 2019-20: a 2.8 per cent cash increase. (It has also reiterated the £56.5m across 2018-19 and 2019-20 to help councils prepare for Brexit, which we can’t really count as extra funding as it’s to fill a Brexit-shaped hole.)

Firstly, this money isn’t enough – councils still face a funding gap of more than £3bn this year, according to the Local Government Association. The pressure to set legal budgets, with an average 49 per cent drop in real terms spending power since 2010 and rising social care demands, means councils need substantially more than a 2.8 per cent raise. Labour’s shadow local government secretary Andrew Gwynne has called the plan a “shoddy deal”, and warns it “means more cuts to our councils”.

Secondly, the funding announced is simply a short-term one-off. There’s no new system for funding social care – with the long promised green paper on adult social care repeatedly pushed back. Decisions on other structural concerns – business rates retention and a fair funding formula for local government – have been put off, with consultations being published instead.

Councils are desperate for a long-term, sustainable funding settlement. As the head of the National Audit Office, Amyas Morse, said last March: “Current funding for local authorities is characterised by one-off and short-term fixes, many of which come with centrally driven conditions.”

“It does not solve medium term financial pressures so tough decisions will still need to be taken and our members will have little choice but to raise council tax to meet demand-led pressures in services,” warned Paul Carter, chair of the County Councils Network.

Plans for 2020 and beyond are yet to be determined, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which concludes that “current plans imply further cuts for unprotected services after 2019-20”.

This means councils will continue to operate in a financial void, unable to fund public services properly, while waiting for something to change in the promised Spending Review later this year.

Amid Brexit vote chaos, the government quietly finalises council cuts - New Stateman

There needs to be a 'complete rethink':
We Need A Complete Rethink Of How We Fund Our Public Services | HuffPost UK

The Huffington Post has been serialising the effects of the squeeze on local government:
The Closure Of This Leisure Centre Tells A Bigger Story About Austerity In The UK
What The Closure Of A Local Clinic Tells Us About Sexual Health Under Austerity
What The Closure Of A Local Job Centre Tells Us About Benefits Under Austerity

With more comment from the Local Government Chronicle
Stephen Houghton: The ministry must revise fair funding approach | Opinion | Local Government Chronicle

A '130-year waiting list' for rural social housing

Social housing is not being built:
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: "A vision for social housing"

The Campaign to Protect Rural England says it's not being built in villages and rural areas: 

Social housing crisis in the countryside as waiting list tops 100 years*

24 January 2019

New government statistics show the shocking length of households on local authorities' housing waiting lists in rural areas

A Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) analysis of new Government data, published today (24 January), has revealed it would take 130 years to house those on the waiting list, given the current rate at which new social housing is being built in rural areas. The countryside charity fears the lack of focus on the housing needs of people in rural areas is fuelling a particular crisis in the countryside.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) data shows there are now 173,584 families on the waiting list for social housing in rural councils. Yet last year, just 1,336 homes for social rent were built in those councils’ areas. CPRE is deeply concerned that communities in market towns and villages across the country are being forgotten by central government.

Lois Lane, Research and Policy Adviser at CPRE, said:

‘As social housing waiting lists continue to rise right across the country, it is clear that councils are not able to build enough to meet anyone’s needs. But our analysis shows a clear disparity in focus and funding that has left a large number of rural communities suffering silently, and in real danger of being left behind.

‘There is a misconception that people living in the countryside don’t feel the effects of the housing crisis, but that couldn’t be further than the truth. Average house prices are higher and wages lower than in major towns and cities, and the continued failure to build enough social homes has actually made the situation especially challenging in rural communities.’

Following the publication of these figures, CPRE is calling for further substantial investment in social housebuilding for rural areas from the government, with a proportion of grant funding for use in rural areas to be ring-fenced in line with the proportion of the population living there.

* This press release was updated on 28 January 2019. Due to a formatting error when conducting the analysis of raw government data, the original figure published of 177,688 households on social housing waiting lists was incorrect. The correct and updated figure is 173,584. This means that rather than 133 years, it would take 130 years to house those on the waiting list in rural areas.

Social housing crisis in the countryside as waiting list tops 100 years* - Campaign to Protect Rural England

The Yorkshire Post reports:

Campaign to Protect Rural England says there is a '133-year waiting list' for rural social housing


Thursday 24 January 2019

Damning analysis of new Government figures suggests that it would take 133 years to home all of the families waiting for social housing in rural areas at the rate that they are being built.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) data released yesterday shows there are now 177,688 families on the waiting list for social housing in rural council areas – yet last year, just 1,336 such rental homes were built in those locations, according to Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

Its analysis is a fresh blow to rural communities “suffering silently” amid fears that such areas in Yorkshire could become “retirement homes for the wealthy”.

There are currently 16,555 households on social housing waiting lists in rural authorities in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, according to CPRE – including 6,337 in East Yorkshire and 6,808 in North Yorkshire.

Minister of State for Housing, Kit Malthouse MP, last night said that the current government has “made it our mission” to reverse a 30-year failure of successive administrations to build enough homes, and added that it was investing £9bn in affordable housing until March 2022.

The Upper Dales Community Land Trust leader, Councillor John Blackie, was not surprised by the figures and believes that a lack of affordable housing can drive young families away.

“These are the warning sings of storm clouds not on the horizon, but directly above us,” he said. “It’s a desperate situation. If we are not careful, many of our rural communities will be retirement homes for the wealthy.”

The trust creates protected homes for rent in the Yorkshire Dales – but Coun Blackie said this type of scheme is harder to develop than many realise.

“Unless they make things easier for grassroots organisations in the planning application process and in the application for funding, then the dream of seeing rural communities having a future with housing that they need to accommodate the need for young families, it will never happen. There really has to be more than wishing it. It’s got to be driven forward by a Government that is intent on making sure rural areas don’t miss out when it comes to housing.”

CPRE is now calling for further substantial investment in social house-building for rural areas from the Government, with a proportion of grant funding for use in those areas to be ring-fenced in line with the proportion of the population living there.

Lois Lane, research and policy adviser at CPRE, said: “As social housing waiting lists continue to rise right across the country, it is clear that councils are not able to build enough to meet anyone’s needs. But our analysis shows a clear disparity in focus and funding that has left a large number of rural communities suffering silently, and in real danger of being left behind.

“There is a misconception that people living in the countryside don’t feel the effects of the housing crisis, but that couldn’t be further than the truth. Average house prices are higher and wages lower than in major towns and cities, and the continued failure to build enough social homes has actually made the situation especially challenging in rural communities.”

The government said in a response that last year, the number of people on local authority housing waiting lists fell by four per cent. Homes England has dedicated “rural housing champions” in each of their operating areas, who “remain active across the rural housing sector,” it added.

Minister of State for Housing Kit Malthouse MP said: “For the last 30 years, governments of all stripes and types have failed to build enough homes. This Government has made it our mission to turn that around and we have already delivered 119,000 affordable homes in rural areas since 2010.

“We still need to deliver more, better faster so we have given councils the freedom to build a new generation of council houses and are investing £9bn in affordable housing up until March 2022.”

Campaign to Protect Rural England says there is a '133-year waiting list' for rural social housing - Yorkshire Post

UK government plans to improve air quality > 'will intensify rural fuel poverty'

The government's Clean Air Strategy 2019 is a start:
Futures Forum: UK government plans to improve air quality > not enough?

However, as the Rural Services Network points out, this will not help those  in rural areas barely managing to keep warm:


The RSN has this week written to the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, to ask him to consider the impact that the Clean Air Strategy will have on rural communities and some of our most vulnerable residents.  
The full letter reads as follows:
Dear Rt Hon Mr Gove,
Clean Air Strategy and implications for Rural Areas
We are the Rural Services Network and we work hard as the national champion for rural services, ensuring that people in rural areas have a strong voice.  
We are writing to you to ask if you would seriously consider the impact that the Clean Air Strategy will have on rural communities and some of our most vulnerable residents. We fully appreciate that the Government is trying to cut the cost of air pollution to society saving significant amounts of money but in order to achieve this, the implications for rural communities need to be considered.
BEIS estimates that approximately 13.9% of households in Great Britain are not connected to mains gas equating to approximately 3.7 Million households. Whilst these households are located in both urban and rural areas, rural households suffer from significant disadvantage in relation to fuel poverty and the impact of fuel poverty can have significant health implications.
Rural homes are being left behind with Energy Efficient policies.  As a result of low gas mains connections in rural areas, rural residents often have to rely on oil which is expensive and wood burning stoves and coal to heat their homes to keep the costs down.  Restrictions on the sale of wet wood for domestic burning so that it can only be purchased in volumes over a specified cut off point will mean that there may be no cost equivalent alternative for heating their home and rural residents will again suffer increased financial penalties simply because they live in rural areas.  The fuel poverty gap in rural areas is double that in urban areas, over £600 compared to £300 in urban areas.  Fuel poverty is an endemic problem in rural areas since many rural homes are insufficiently insulated – and this is particularly true in the private rented sector with old housing stock.  Banning coal is going to hit the rural poor hardest. 
The Independent Review of Rural Proofing led by Lord Cameron of Dillington recommended that ‘Rural proofing must be applied more systematically in departments and described more openly and transparently.’  It is vital that the Clean Air Strategy is considered in the context of rural communities and that adverse impacts on rural residents are mitigated providing them with affordable alternatives to heat their homes.
Rural residents face multiple barriers in terms of access to key services and it is vital that rural interests are considered so that rural communities are not again left disadvantaged.
Yours sincerely
Councillor Cecilia Motley
Chair of Rural Services Network

Clean air strategy to intensify rural fuel poverty - Rural Services Network

Plans for Port Royal: Drill Hall on the open market to 4th February

The District Council is marketing a key asset:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: Drill Hall on the open market

It could take a different approach:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal > the District Council selling an historic venue to the Town Council for £1

As suggested in the latest newsletter from the Rescue Sidmouth Drill Hall group:

Dear Friends,

As we approach the 4th Feb when all bids for the Drill Hall have to be submitted I had hoped to be able to give you some useful information, but I can't.

I have not heard any more about a Sidmouth Sunrise bid since I last wrote so I don't know if one will be put in.

I have been contacted by two other individuals who were considering bids but I do not know what their final decision was.

I contacted John Kinsey of JLL to ask if he could tell me his best estimate of how many bids might be submitted but he didn't feel he could do that. He did say there has been some interest and that he will ask EDDC after the 4th Feb if they will release the number of bids submitted.

The situation is therefore that we need to be ready to scrutinise any information released by EDDC before a planning application is submitted and to do the same at the planning stage. Of course, it was said at an EDDC council meeting that they reserve the right not to accept any bids so we need to bear that in mind too.

Since I last wrote there have been many instances around the country where Council assets have been transferred to different bodies with grants to assist them with repair and maintenance, one of the most recent is Stroud Assembly Rooms. There are also new Government initiatives providing funding that the EDDC could apply for in both Tourism and Heritage sectors. I have not heard that the EDDC are intending to do anything in response to these but one can always hope.

Kind regards, Mary
 © 2017 Mary Walden-Till, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Marketing end date 4th Feb
Sidmouth Drill Hall Rescue - Home | Facebook
Rescue Sidmouth Drill Hall - Sidmouth Drill Hall Rescue