News in brief December | the latest waste and resource news

Dive into the latest waste and resource news with Circular Online’s news in brief round up.

Researchers from Teesside University helping create carbon neutral cement

An environmentally sustainable building material which could significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the construction industry is being developed with the support of Teesside University.

Academics from the University are collaborating with industry partners on a £7.6m project entitled ‘Mevocrete’ aiming to develop a new form of concrete made from the by-products of the steel and chemical industries.

The resulting product from the Mevocrete project emits up to 85% less carbon dioxide when compared to a traditional concrete made from Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC).

Concrete is an essential material in the construction industry and the global concrete market is worth approximately £500b annually.

However, it is one of the single biggest emitters of carbon dioxide accounting for up to eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The Mevocrete project is working with a revolutionary new construction material made using waste steel slag patented by Middlesbrough-based company Material Evolution Ltd.

The vast majority of waste materials from steel production are sent to landfill and it is estimated that in the UK alone there are 62m tons of unused slag waste.

Teesside University has won funding from Innovate UK to work with Material Evolution to help the business scale up its technology to create a full scale on-site facility for cement production using waste steel slag at Teesworks.

Researchers from the University’s School of Computing, Engineering & Digital Technologies will analyse the steel slag and its chemical composition and measure how efficient it is at sequestering carbon.


Caerphilly’s battery recycling initiative proves positive in schools

Four local schools have been awarded for their efforts with battery recycling in Caerphilly County Borough.

The annual battery recycling initiative, in partnership with European Recycling Platform, involves pupils bringing used household batteries into school for recycling, helping to keep them out of the waste stream.

All participating schools compete with other schools in the borough to win exciting prizes at a special award ceremony at the end of the school year.

This year’s competition proved to be fiercely competitive with over one tonne of batteries recycled, however Cwmaber Juniors, Ysgol Penalltau, Libanus Primary and Ty Isaf Infants Schools came out on top and were announced the winners.

Each winning school won £100 in Amazon vouchers, with Cwmaber Juniors winning an additional £100 Amazon for having the largest weight, with their recycled batteries coming in at 92 kilograms.

In the UK, around 40,000 tonnes of portable batteries were sold in 2020, with only around 18,000 tonnes being recycled. Batteries can contain harmful chemicals, so should always be disposed of correctly.


BSI launches Sustainability Innovation Lab in Cambridge, UK

Business standards and improvement company, BSI, has announced the launch of its Sustainability Innovation Lab in Cambridge, UK.

The new Lab will offer a collaborative environment for organizations across the globe to harness BSI’s knowledge and expertise to transform their business models and accelerate progress towards a sustainable world.

Situated at the headquarters of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), the new Lab opened its doors today to startups and organisations of any size and industry.

Presenting new opportunities for collaboration with governments and industry peers, the Lab is designed to help organisations improve customer outcomes and organizational resilience, while also delivering a clear, positive impact for wider society.

Harold Pradal, Chief Commercial Officer at BSI, said: “Driving change in the way we address our economic, social and environmental challenges is high on everyone’s agenda, and the Sustainability Innovation Lab will be at the forefront of the innovation and development that is needed to foster positive change that will result in long term benefit for all, and our partnership with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability allows us to increase the pace of innovation and create solutions that are new and disruptive.”


Philips adds manual toothbrushes to free recycling programme

Royal Philips  has announced that manual toothbrushes can now be recycled through its free recycling programme for oral care waste, meaning both powered and manual toothbrushes can be given a second life through the scheme.

Philips is also welcoming new sign-ups to collect on the programme. Anyone can set up a public drop-off location by heading to the TerraCycle website and signing up to the Philips Dental Care Free Recycling Programme to start downloading shipping labels and sending their community’s dental care products and packaging to TerraCycle free of charge.

The Philips Dental Care Free Recycling Programme, set up in collaboration with TerraCycle, accepts oral care products of any brand. The programme first launched in 2020 to recycle electric toothbrush heads and covers, electric flosser nozzles, flossing sticks and interdental brushes, and dental floss containers.

These items are essential for maintaining high standards of hygiene for healthy teeth and gums, however they are often made from a complex mix of materials which means they are not recycled by councils.

This is because the process to recycle them costs more than the recycled product is ultimately worth, making them uneconomical for local authorities to recycle.


University and council team up to tackle waste in Portsmouth

Portsmouth City Council and the University of Portsmouth teamed up again this year to support students and residents to recycle more and tackle waste issues in areas of Southsea and Somerstown. 

Students were recruited and trained to work with the council as volunteers, helping drive the message home of how to dispose of rubbish correctly. The volunteers visited students and residents to speak about how they can manage waste correctly and promoted recycling services, to help make the city safe, clean, and tidy.

Cllr Suzy Horton, the council’s Deputy Leader, and Cllr Chris Attwell, Cabinet Member for Communities and Central Services, joined the students in visiting residents. Cllr Horton said: “Students from across the country, let alone all over the world, come to our fantastic city to study.

“With no one national standard for recycling, they may be used to many different types of rubbish and recycling rules. That’s why it is so important we explain how it works in Portsmouth.

“Now in its second year, we have seen a positive impact of our engagement with students in shared houses, as the volunteers have been able to educate on waste and recycling guidelines at the earliest opportunity which has set them up at the start of the year.

“Speaking to the residents, we have found ways to help them straight away such as explaining which bins to use, how they can request a larger bin and what they should do when they have excess waste above their weekly allowance. The residents we spoke to said they found the information extremely helpful.”

Both the council and the university will work together to inform students on how to dispose of waste correctly.

Projects like this are part of the council’s plan to encourage recycling and reduce waste – helping make Portsmouth a greener, cleaner, and more sustainable city.

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