Environmental News

Barclaycard has finally launched Breathe, its ‘green’ credit card, half the profits of which will be donated to work by UK charity Pure in reversing climate change. Barclaycard says in the first year of operation it will donate at least GB£ 1mn. Like several of the high-profile environmental initiatives recently launched by financial companies, the new Breathe card
has met with mixed reactions from financial experts. There is concern from these experts that many of the financial institutions are following the herd on the climate change issue and just launching these products to get more publicity. Owners of the Breathe card will encouraged to carry out green spending, as they will be offered a reduced interest rate on purchases of bus and rail tickets and will get discounts on green energy and home insulation.

An independent study by the BBC’s Money Programme rated the Co-op as the most climate change-friendly chain on the high street.

Marks & Spencer has launched a pair of trousers for men made out of recycled clear plastic bottles. The trousers are part of the retailer’s new green initiative and if successful could be extended to women’s ranges.

Figures released this week will reveal that the organic industry is suffering from a supply problem as demand for organic products is outstripping supplies. Experts have warned that this year’s slowing sales figures are linked to an increasing shortage in local supply. The Sunday Times features an article commenting on the increasing importance being placed on locally produced food as the columnist writes about his experience of giving up supermarket shopping for one month following a month of only shopping in supermarkets.

The Sun mentioned that slow moving traffic will be used to generate electricity for Sainsbury’s. Lorries will drive over metal plates in the road outside the supermarket’s depot in Northampton triggering pumps linked to a generator. The system could make enough power to operate 10,000 light-bulbs a year, US trials indicate.

The E.on-owned UK utility provider Powergen is to begin a trial of energy monitoring devices in households, in conjunction with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. The trial will be part of Powergen’s Changing Energy initiative. However, the Energy Retail Association says that smart meters are preferable to the display devices as they do not monitor gas consumption and do not give real time information.

According to a recent opinion poll, calls for a reduction in the amount of packaging on groceries are supported by an overwhelming majority of the population. In a survey of 1,000 supermarket shoppers, 92 per cent said that they wished to see a reduction in the overall amount of packaging, while 93 per cent wanted to see a rise in recyclable packaging.

The Daily Express reports that low energy light bulbs are outselling traditional light bulbs for the first time as a growing number of Britons become aware of human impact on climate change. Sales of the eco-friendly bulbs have risen by 200 per cent in the last year.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that from December Tesco will be sellingcarbon-offsetting kits. For a small fee shoppers will be able to offset a quarter of a tonne of carbon emissions.

Ikea is to become the UK’s first major retailer to completely abandon traditional plastic bags.

Although we didn’t report on it much, sales of energy-saving light bulbs have been boosted by the recent Live Earth concert promoting environmental issues. Tesco has revealed that it sold more than 50,000 since last Saturday, with demand for standard bulbs decreasing by 20 per cent.

The Observer mentioned a proposal from the Soil Association to ban imports of organic produce from developing countries such as Kenya because of their ‘food miles’. The SA will hear views on the issue until September, when it could decide to introduce a limited or total ban.

Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy agreed yesterday to press the European Union to cut taxes on environmentally-friendly products, such as energy-efficient refrigerators and cars with low or zero emissions.

The European Trade Commissioner’s plan to eliminate punitive tariffs on cheap energy efficient light bulbs from China, has been supported by Tesco and Philips. German firm Osram, which is the biggest maker of energy-saving light bulbs in the EU, is opposing the plan.

The News of the World reports that stores could be forced to take back hundreds of thousands of tonnes of packaging from customers, which they will then have to recycle, in a government eco-drive.

The Independent on Sunday reports that New Look and H&M are the latest high street chains to boost their green credentials by extending their ranges made of organic cotton.


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