Monday, 13 December 2010

COP 16 - Climate COP Out?

Over the past two weeks all of the world has had it's eyes fixed upon the delegates of the COP16 Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico.

After the disappointment of the talks in Copenhagen at COP15 it was hoped that this time around there would be real commitment by the world's leaders to legally binding targets on carbon reduction.

Sadly for everyone at COP16, this was not the case. After two weeks of talks we are left with yet another toothless deal which is not legally binding. On the plus side we will see the creation of a UN managed climate fund, however none of the participants at COP16 have made any monetary commitments to it!

There's a really good article on the Guardian website that I recommend you read which outlines in more detail the final outcomes.

It looks like we have a long way to go yet before we will see genuine desire from political leaders to reduce global emissions.


EMERGE Recycling

Friday, 10 December 2010

Vegetable Oil Recycling in Wiltshire


Vegetable oil recycling has been introduced at 10 household waste recycling centres in Wiltshire after a 3 month trial. The oil will be collected and refined to be used as a fuel for generating electricity.

An added bonus of the scheme is that less oil will be poured down drains causing blockages and costing £15m to clean up nationally.

This service is part of the local authorities campaign to reduce food waste.

Food waste is a huge problem and the good work of love food hate waste to reduce food waste and collection schemes like this are helping people to solve the food waste problem.

Onwards & upwards!


Thursday, 9 December 2010

FareShare North West Open Day

Since Starting FareShare North West in 2008 together we have redistributed over 500 tonnes of food saved from bin/landfill, equalling 1.19 million meals for the vulnerable in our region.

Our open days are run to encourage existing members to come and see the warehouse and find out where the food comes from, who it goes to and why FareShare North West do the work that they do. Non-members are also welcome to come along and visit the warehouse and hopefully become members.

There will be opportunities to meet the volunteers at FareShare North West and have a look at the work they do, and hopefully encourage more people to come and volunteer. There is also a food demonstration, showing people the healthy meals you can make with the food donated by FareShare North West.

FareShare North West have had some major successes over the last year, i.e. in November, 26 pallets of food were donated by BEFA and successfully redistributed. FareShare supplies over 50 beneficiary groups in the region, e.g homeless shelters, day centres for the elderly and refugee support centres, in our 2 year plan we hope to double that amount of beneficiaries.

Our first open event was a resounding success, despite the snow and we will be holding another open day on 21st January 2011, 11am- 2pm. To RSVP just call 0161 223 8200.


EMERGE Recycling

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Volunteering Placement Starting Soon (10 weeks)


Volunteering placement starting soon at FareShare North West (which is operated by EMERGE in case you didn't know).

We are offering a structured programme with training including food hygiene, health and safety awareness, manual handling and emergency first aid. There will also be role specific training in warehousing. If you want to apply you must be able to commit to two days a week between 10 January and 11 March 2011.

The funders have laid down strict criteria so if you are interested take a quick look to see whether you are eligible:

Applicants must be:
• 19 years old or over
• Out of work
• Live in a City of Manchester ward

And must fit into at least one of the following groups:
• In receipt of Incapacity Benefit, Sickness Disability Benefit or Employment Support
• Lone parents in receipt of Income Support or JSA;
• Members of the BME communities including Refugee and Asylum Seekers;
• Over 50 who wish to return to work;
• Carers who wish to return to work;
• Have no qualifications

If you want to find out more come and join us for a cup of coffee and a chat at FareShare on Tuesday 14 December and 2pm. You will meet the staff and other volunteers, get more information about the placement and have the chance to fill out an application form.

If you know of anyone else who may be interest please let them know.

Onwards & upwards!


Friday, 3 December 2010

Recycling: Carrot vs Stick

Whilst looking over the metro I came across this article:

My thoughts are that people should most certainly be rewarded or praised for their successes rather than punished for not recycling. Surely it’s more important to encourage people to recycle rather than tell them they could face a hefty fine if they don’t do it properly, I believe it is unfair to have people fearing they have done something wrong when actually, recycling should be an enjoyable experience and people should be able to feel happy that they are giving something back to their community.

I don’t believe that anyone wants to feel pressured into recycling, more and more people recycle every day because they can and want to, not because they feel they have to. I don’t think recycling should become compulsory, because anyone should be able to do things when and if they want to, and there should not be anyone out there to tell people what they can and cannot do, and punish them with a huge fine.

What do you think?


EMERGE Recycling

Monday, 29 November 2010

170 green jobs created at Siemens, Withington


Fantastic news that 170 hi tech green jobs are being created at Siemens, Manchester. Last week on 25th November Manchester City Council approved an application from German electronics multinational Siemens to build a 2 storey, 2,679 sq mtr office and lab on their Princess Road site.

The building will be used to develop technologies for the booming offshore wind industry and will provide a testing and assembly hub for electronic devices for distribution throughout Europe.

It is great that Manchester will have such a hub built here. It demonstrates we have a wealth of skilled people who can perform such key roles in the offshore wind industry. Lets hope Manchester and the UK can capitalise further on the offshore wind and renewables opportunities in future.

Onwards & upwards!


Friday, 26 November 2010

Snowed in during a global heat wave?


I can remember earlier this year during what was, I think, the worst winter for 30 years being out walking the streets of Merseyside in Arctic Conditions. I was going door to door on behalf of Sefton Council with a trusty team of recycling promoters, encouraging the good people of Sefton to participate in the new food waste recycling scheme.

Boy, it was freezing. The cold temperatures caused some of my team mates to remark 'global warming - what a load of old cobblers, I can hardly feel my toes!' or something along those lines. I remember a similar sentiment from others at the time.

With the cold weather at the minute and snow in Scotland and the borders I can just hear some people saying now 'It's freezing - global warming was all made up, turn up the heating'.

To those people and my team mates from earlier in the year I would like to make a few brief but clear points:

1. Climate is not the same as weather. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere "behaves" over relatively long periods of time.

2. The surface area of the Earth occupied by the UK is tiny (compared with the whole planet!) hence conditions here are not reflective of the whole planet

3. 2000-2010 will be clearly the hottest decade on record

4. 2010 will be the hottest or second hottest year on record

Yes, it is not good news, some people have even taken the step of going back into denial with the Uni of East Anglia scandal, disinformation, and the complete failure at Copenhagen.

So if you tell me global warming is made up because you can't feel your toes please tell me you're joking, then we can go and sit in a cafe and have a hot chocolate.

Onwards & upwards!


If you like this please visit my blog:

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Merseyside School set to benefit £900 from US scheme RecycleBank


A school in Runcorn, Westfield Primary School, is set to benefit from the RecycleBank scheme to the tune of £900. They are planning to build a sustainable willow dome outdoor classroom and coppice area with the funds.

The local council operates the RecycleBank scheme which encourages residents to recycle through financial rewards for kerbside recycling.

RecycleBank run a schools scheme which means the rewards can be collected and spent by the school. As such Westfield Primary are collecting for the equipment and encouraging local residents to donate their points.

The scheme is an American initiative which has come to the UK and was taken up by Halton council last year. It may soon be taken up by at least one council in London.

If the scheme leads to greater uptake of recycling and also brings benefits to schools then we are all for the take up of such initiatives by local councils. We must not forget the importance of waste reduction along the way though!

Onwards & upwards!


Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Cheshire MBT Plant Given Go Ahead


Cheshire West and Chester council announced on Friday they were giving the go ahead for a 200,000 tonne a year mechanical biological treatment plant at Lostock Gralam in Cheshire.

Viridor, who propose to build the plant, have scaled back the size of the planned facility from 250,000 to 200,000 tonnes a year after the initial proposal was rejected in June.

The plant will be used to treat waste from Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester councils. Once in operation, the plant will produce 130,000 tonnes-a-year of solid recovered fuel (SRF) which is planned to be sent to the incinerator at INEOS Chlor, Runcorn.

The value of the contract is expected to be around £850 million for 25 years.

We think much more could be done to improve recycling rates and reducing waste before we build these hugely expensive waste treatment facilities which create hardly any long term jobs.

Austria and Germany recycled 69% and 65% respectively in 2008, with the UK lagging behind at 35%.

There has already been an example recently where a local council broke its contract by not providing enough waste to an EFW plant. (We're they recycling too well?).

Let's take a look at this case: The waste will be turned into a waste fuel in 1 process at great expense. The waste fuel will then be taken to Runcorn to be burned in an incinerator, at further expense, and this is now cheaper than landfill!

Surely its time we reduced our waste. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Onwards & upwards!


Friday, 19 November 2010

3Rs Christmas Gifts


Thinking of ‘going green’ this Christmas? – read on.

Here are some gift ideas I came up with:

3Rs Gift Ideas

1. Give an Experience
2. Charity Gifts
3. Subscription to Spotify
4. Make Something Yourself
5. Use Freecycle
6. Reuse – Ebay/Charity Shop/Car Boot Sale
7. Plant a Tree

1. Give an Experience

Give someone an experience this Christmas and they will have a story about how they went bungee jumping, were a keeper at a zoo, or had afternoon tea at Windsor Castle for years to come.

However be careful when selecting your experience – they can be carbon intensive!

Golf lessons:
Bungee jump:
Spa treatment:

2. Charity Gifts
Adopt a wild animal, save some trees from destruction, help some less fortunate people. Charity gifts are a great way to share some festive spirit this Christmas.

If you donate to a worthy cause your money will go to charity and you will also receive something to give on Christmas Day eg. a card, cuddly toy, certificate.

Adopt an Animal:
Save Trees: ,
Energy Saving Stove:

3. Subscription to Spotify

‘Spotify is a music streaming service offering streaming of selected music from a range of major and independent record labels’ Wikipedia

7 million people are now using Spotify and its not even available outside Europe. Developed by a team in Sweden this music streaming service has been taking Europe by storm since 2008. With 10 million tracks available at the touch of a button and from major record labels including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal its not hard to see why.

Where Spotify is available anyone with a PC can access all the 10 million tracks for free. The trouble is you have to put up with those annoying banner and audio ads.

For £4.99 a month you can give the gift of ad free unlimited music to a music loving recipient.

The only trouble is once your subscription expires they might well be hooked….


4. Make Something Yourself

If you like crafts you could use your skills to make a present, and save money and the environment at the same time. Here are a few examples:

Picture book:
Plastic bag crouchet:,

If you live in Manchester, UK there are craft workshops which teach you how to make ‘Junk mail jewelry’, ‘Reuse button bags’ and more:

5. Use Freecycle

Freecycle is a ‘grassoots movement of people who are giving and getting stuff for free in their own towns.’

It is free to sign up and there are 494 groups in the UK alone. Once you sign up you can post on the site offering your unwanted items or requesting items.

Tip: Make sure to send a convincing message to request items as there may be competition. Eg. make them laugh and be flexible

6. Reuse – Ebay/ Charity shops/ Car boot sale

Ebay – you can use the ebay auctions or buy it now but make sure the item is used/ unwanted/ refurbished as a lot of stores on eBay sell new stuff.

Charity shops – If you have an eye for a bargain why not try picking up a gift at a charity shop? You never know you might stumble across a great find. Try not to go with anything specific in mind and you might just find something great!

If you go to a wealthy area you can often pick up the best bargains
Seek out smaller charities
Check out the accessories
Have a chat with the staff to see when items come in. They might offer to find and hold items for you.

Car Boot Sale – If you are prepared to get up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning and get there early you may just grab a bargain.

7. Plant a tree
Planting trees to sequester carbon from fossil fuels is not a sustainable solution for global warming and can be used to justify carbon pollution eg. Offsetting long distance flights.

That said planting trees to create or restore a forest can benefit wild animals which live there and can also add biomass to the forest which reduces CO2 in the atmosphere.

The Trees for Life project in Caledonia, Scotland is restoring the Caledonian forest. They planted 250,000 trees in 2008-2009.

Trees for life

Crafty/ Alternative:

For lovers of rock music:
(Reuse) jewelry
Handmade Norfolk Soap
English Wine: Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2005

Thanks for reading.

Joe White

For further inspiration on green living this Christmas and beyond visit my blog:

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Marks & Spencer’s Launches Chocolate Packaging- Which Can Dissolve in Water!


Marks and Spencer’s entire Swiss Chocolate Collection range has new packaging which is not only 100% compostable, but will also disappear completely if placed under a running tap!

The trays are made of plantic, a material made from starch and is ideal for home composting, which M&S first tried in 2007. When they received positive feedback from customers, it was decided that they’d use the material for their Christmas chocolate range and another Christmas favourite, mince pies!

In the new chocolate boxes, the outer layer is made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified cardboard, while the mat that sits on top is made from greaseproof paper and is also fully recyclable. The only material not compostable will be the plastic film wrapped around the box. This is made from PP – recyclable but not currently collected in Britain.

Helene Roberts, head of packaging at M&S, said: "This is a fantastic step forwards for food packaging – we know our customers really want to be responsible and using plantic means they can enjoy a delicious box of chocolates without the worry of what to do with the leftover tray – they can just throw it on their compost heap."

Once on the compost heap, the plantic tray will take around three weeks to break down completely. If the tray is put under water it will dissolve in a matter of minutes.

Packaging experts and scientists believe it has the potential to revolutionise the mainstream confectionery packaging market.

So not only is it better for the environment, but also one less thing to feel guilty about when we’ve ate yet another box of chocolates over Christmas!


EMERGE Recycling

Monday, 25 October 2010

Violent Protests Result in Plans for New Dump Being Put on Hold


Yesterday the Italian government offered to suspend the opening of a new waste dump in an attempt to stop violent protests, which have taken place over the last month.

Vehicles trying to take rubbish into an existing dump have been set on fire, tree trunks have blocked the road and police have had rocks and firecrackers thrown at them.

Police have also confirmed that, close to the where the protests have taken place, small quantities of explosives have been found.

The Prime Minister has promised to release £12.4 million to improve the existing dump, which local residents say gives off a foul smell and claim that it has been used to dump toxic waste.

The residents are wary of agreeing to landfill sites or incinerators. They fear this could attract mobsters from other parts of Italy to come and dump toxic waste.

Plans for a second dump at Terzigno, which is in a national park, we’re announced, scrapped and then reinstated. The latest plan is to suspend the dump and to clean up the new one, using it until it is full. This deal, however, is conditional on an end to the violence.

The mayors of the surrounding towns, who have backed the protests, initially refused to agree to the terms on offer and demanded more stringent guarantees.

Gennaro Langella, mayor of nearby Boscoreale, said he had detected on the government side an "interest in maintaining [their] commitments".

He and the mayors of three other towns went ahead with a peaceful march today that ended at the entrance to the existing dump, where they laid a wreath "in remembrance of the way the Vesuvius [National] Park died".


EMERGE Recycling

Monday, 18 October 2010

Britain's Greenest Cities


Newcastle has been named as Britain's greenest city for the second year running in a study examining quality of life and environmental awareness. Moves to install electric vehicle charging points and its support of clean technology firms were highlighted by the Sustainable Cities Index.

Britain's Top 10 green cities
• Newcastle
• Leicester
• Brighton
• Bristol
• London
• Leeds
• Coventry
• Plymouth
• Edinburgh
• Sheffield

According to the index, the five top-placed cities have set themselves ambitious targets and have long-term visions of how to improve life for residents by reducing their environmental impact and creating new opportunities in the green economy.

With Manchester coming 13th, a place up from last year, as long as we continue to be motivated and determined to recycle all of our waste, I’m sure that next year we can be in the top 5.

Peter Madden, chief executive of Forum for the Future, which runs the league, said: "Cities are having to count every penny so it's essential that they invest wisely for long-term success.

"Leaders like Newcastle and Leicester are developing plans to run services in smarter ways, tackle challenges like climate change and secure the jobs of the future."

Barry Rowland, chief executive of Newcastle City Council, said: "Sustainability is right at the top of our agenda, and we intend to keep it there."

Come on Manchester, let’s step up our game, and see what rank we can get to next year!

EMERGE Recycling

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Head of the EA calling for London's lights to be turned off at night.


The head of the Environment Agency has criticised London’s biggest businesses for leaving their lights blazing throughout the night.

Lord Smith has joined politicians and environmentalists in calling for London to switch off their lights outside office hours.

Whilst every business in the country is obliged to recycle, large parts of Canary Wharf, the Gherkin building and City Hall are lit up late into the night, using unnecessary energy.

EA Chairman Lord Smith said, “Walk down any street in the City this evening and you could be forgiven for thinking that everything was still open and every office tower still full of people.”

Green London Assembly Member, Darren Johnson, said “We are all being told to save energy and do everything we can, yet whenever people go outside they see building after building with their lights blazing throughout the night… City Hall is a real embarrassment, and I cringe every time I walk past it at night.”

This comes two weeks after residents of rural West Cumbria have reacted in anger at being told that their streetlights would no longer be on all night. They believe that this will aid criminal activity, increase road accidents and jeopardise their safety.

Cath Ferguson, chairman of Broughton Moor parish council, said: “We are more vulnerable in rural areas and the last thing we need in areas like Broughton Moor is to lose the little protection that lighting affords.”

So whilst London’s buildings are lit up during the night for no reason at all, the residents of West Cumbria are worried about leaving their houses after hours for fear of their safety!


EMERGE Recycling

Monday, 20 September 2010

Sainsbury's Taken To Court for Excessive Packaging

Lincolnshire county council have now dropped this case against Sainsbury's.


Following my last blog regarding the WEEE Directive and packaging regulations, Sainsbury’s are being taken to court for the excessive packaging of a beef joint.

The joint is wrapped in plastic, and then packaged inside a 20cm by 15 cm plastic tray, with a cardboard sleeve wrapped around the tray.

Sainsbury’s are expected in Lincolnshire court on October 13th, with the case being the first time a major supermarket has been prosecuted for failing to stay within acceptable levels of packaging.

This news came on the same day that Sainsbury’s announced they were ditching boxes for their own brand, basic cereals, and instead using “environmentally friendly bags.” The chain believes using bags rather than boxes for these cereals means 165 tonnes of packaging will be kept off Sainsbury's shelves every year.

Kellogg’s, however, disagree with Sainsbury’s and made it clear that they would not be doing the same. A spokesperson for Kellogg’s commented, "We have no plans in the short term to change our packaging… A box and a thin bag are fully recyclable – bags only use more plastic and is much thicker and harder to recycle. You also need a lot more packaging in transit to limit damage."

So while Sainsbury’s are looking to make changes in how they are going to package in future, they may want to look at what’s already on their shelves. This is just another example that businesses really do need to be careful in how and what they recycle, and also what waste they are producing.

For more information about the Packaging Regulations visit Netregs.


EMERGE Recycling

Monday, 13 September 2010

EA Prosecute WEEE Producer


Aston and Fincher Ltd, a hairdressing supplies wholesaler, last week became the first ever company to be prosecuted for failing to comply with both WEEE and packaging regulations. The Environment Agency discovered this as a result of routine investigations. They were ordered to pay fines, costs and compensation totalling £30,905.11.

It was found that the company had imported a range of electrical items into the UK but had failed to meet the obligations as a producer under the UK WEEE Regulations, which have been in place since 2007. They also found that, from 2001 to 2008, they had committed offences in relation to packaging regulations.

Hannah Wooldridge, an EA officer leading the investigation, commented after the case, “businesses have a responsibility for what happens to their waste and ignorance is no defence.”

Ashton and Fincher’s secretary said that it was not a deliberate intention to evade the regulations, the company had simply not been aware of them.

The WEEE directive is in place to reduce the amount of electrical and electronic equipment being produced and to encourage re-use, recycling and recovery. It aims to improve the environmental performance of businesses that manufacture, supply, use, recycle and recover.

The Packaging Regulations (Essential Requirements) apply to businesses that produce packaged products, design packaging and import or sell packaged goods. Your packaging must be able to be recovered by material recycling, energy recovery, composting or reuse.
You must also have evidence that your packaging complies with the regulations and keep this for at least four years. If these records are requested by the EA, you must supply them within 28 days.

I’d suggest to any business out there that isn’t 100% sure of what’s required of them, to read all regulations and requirements, it’s better to be safe than sorry!


EMERGE Recycling

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Outdoor Clothing Ethics Under Scrutiny


In a shocking and scathing report, the issue of environmental awareness amongst companies making outdoor and sports clothing is finally being addressed!

Many items of outdoor clothing and equipment are heavily dependent on oil based chemicals, resulting in highly polluting toxic waste.

Another concern raised in the report was of the use of nanotechnology, and the toxicity and environmental impacts of nanomaterials and their potential effects on global economics.

Tim Hunt of Ethical Consumer said, “It would be unfair to single out any one company as being the worst of the lot as they’re all as overwhelmingly poor as each other”

However, a number of companies, out of the sixty investigated, have disputed the report as inaccurate and misleading. Richard Cotter, Berghaus brand president, said the company’s ethical stance was “not accurately reflected in this report” and that they were not given a chance to respond. Also, Richard Collier, Helly Hansen vice-president said “on the occasions where the report does reflect specific Helly Hansen activity, we found the research and analysis to be incomplete and misleading.”

Simon Birch, one of the reports authors, said “from where I’m standing it’s the outdoor industry that needs to start taking its environmental responsibilities more seriously. If a company is happy enough to use a mountain in its latest catalogue to help boost its profits, then it’s about time that the same company started to help protect it – and the rest of the environment too.”

Read the report on outdoor gear and let us know what you think!



Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Give Me Tap


A student at Manchester University has come up with an idea to save on buying expensive bottled water and reduce the number of plastic bottles being discarded.

Edwin Broni-Mensah has set up ‘Give Me Tap,’ a business which lets people refill their water bottles in cafes, restaurants and bars around the Manchester area. 41 outlets have already signed up, and all they need to do, is provide a water source.

Edwin Broni-Mensah said: “Give Me Tap helps people reduce their carbon footprint and the waste from discarded plastic bottles, save money, and even helps shop owners too by increasing footfall into their premises. We are making water easily accessible to anyone, anywhere, any time both at home and abroad. Our message is sustainability – stay hydrated, reduce waste and save money.”

Of the 13 billion plastic bottles consumed annually in the UK, only 10% are recycled with the rest going to landfills, so spending just £7 on a Give Me Tap bottle not only saves money, but also the environment! Also, 70% of profits made will fund independent water projects around the world, so what are you waiting for? Buy your bottle now and find out where to get your free refills from!



Friday, 27 August 2010

Our New Blog

Hello everybody,

I’m Lucille, I work at Emerge as Sales and Marketing Administrator …

You might have noticed that our blog has changed?

We have redesigned it and it will no longer be just Lucy’s blog, although she will still be contributing, all of the staff will now have the chance to update you with any recycling news and events and keep you informed about what’s going on down here at New Smithfield Market.

Did anyone catch the Great British Waste Menu on Wednesday night? It was a really interesting programme focusing on Britain’s food waste crisis. Four top chef’s use discarded food to create a banquet for 60 VIPs, with ingredients including scraps from bins. Don’t worry if you missed it, you can watch it on BBC iplayer and let us know what you think!

Enjoy the bank holiday!


Emerge 3Rs

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Food Diary Challenge


Recently, I came across a great way to monitor and reduce food waste in the home! It’s called the ‘Food Diary Challenge!’ It’s a two week diary in which you record what food you buy, what you use and what you throw away! In this way you identify where you are wasting food and why this is…
For example, buy one get one free deals could be a problem: do you actually use all the food, or are you just tempted by the bargain?

Taking part and completing the Diary Challenge is a great way to spot where you can reduce the amount of food waste in your home, plus you can also find top tips on how to use your leftovers for other meal ideas…
Gemma Thompson, a Manchester resident, recorded this tip after completing the challenge… “If you have any stale bread, grate it and freeze it, as the crumbs can be used as breadcrumbs.” Alternatively, you can cut the bread into chunks and fry them up to use as croutons, easy!

Once you have completed the challenge, you can see where and how you can prevent food waste… You can also pick up some handy tips and lovely recipes so why not give it a try? Click the following link and start your 2 week Food Diary Challenge now!

Good Luck



Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Food Glorious Food... What Next?


A massive thank you to everyone who got involved in our Question Time event on Food & Sustainability at Manchester University last night - great team work by staff and volunteers, fantastic Chair and panel, passionate audience co-mingled with the flowing of delicious wine... It was great to have some of the leading minds from the food sector thrashing out some of really complex issues surrounding food and sustainability and though we didn't change the world (yet) it has hopefully kicked off a wider discussion with a slightly broader audience.

The Panel was headed by Mark Shayler ex-Asda Environmental Manager now runs consultancy firm Eco 3 with Pat Foreman, CEO of Foods NW, Chris Shearlock from the Co-operative, Julie Bagnoli proprietor of Isinglass Restaurant and a proponent of the Slow Food Movement; Debbie Ellen an independent researcher and advocate of relocalising food production, Stefan Stainsby of WRAP's Love Food Hate Waste campaign. All the panellists and Chair made excellent contributions to the discussions, which didn’t really focus on waste so much as the wider ‘sustainability’ agenda, around the central issue of ‘how to make the UK/NW/Manchester more sustainable in relation to food?’ Having said that, figures from FareShare national were quoted by their spokesman, David Mellor, who claims an incredible 2.6 million tonnes of food are wasted in the supply chain annually (WRAP data) and hence FareShare’s focus now on working increasingly with the manufacturing sector - bring it on! Stefan Stainsby from the panel, WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste (LFHW) representative, also reminded us that we consumers are the worst culprits in that we throw away nearly a third of what we purchase and hence the LFHW campaign’s focus on encouraging householders to only cook what they need, use leftovers and don’t buy too much in the first place!

Having listened carefully to the debate it seems self-evident that the more we can do to become self sufficient - learn how to grow, prepare and eat our own veg, rely less on oil-based and chemical products including meat and adapt our eating habits to seasonal, indigenous produce, the more ‘sustainable’ we can be in the purest sense. How achievable this is for everyone, requires further analysis, planning and training. Chris Shearlock challenged the idea that local, organic veg is less carbon-intensive than veg brought in from other countries, (though I suspect it’s a very technical argument requiring assessing each product on it on own impacts). Part of the debate focused around the connected issues of consumer demand (“producers respond to the wants of consumers”) versus the power/monopoly/brand values of producers, not least supermarkets (Why are producers constantly price-squeezed and not paid a fair price for produce? How much choice does the public really need? Why can’t refills be more commonly sold? And so on). Interestingly, Chris also maintained that transport and packaging impacts are a smaller proportion of the overall impact than is commonly thought - oil-based argicultural products and and water required in the growing process increasingly cost more…

This all led me to thinking: how would we go on if oil dried up and supermarkets were no more? Is it realistic and feasible for the population of Greater Manchester to feed itself? “A vegan diet can meet calorie and protein needs from just 300 square metres using mainly potatoes. A more varied diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, grains and legumes would take about 700 square metres” ( Greater Manchester spans around 493 square miles or 1,276 km2 and has an estimated population of 2,562,200 in 2008 (Wikipedia). So, even if everyone became vegan overnight, we would require 768,660,000 square metres of land to produce enough food to live on – i.e. 769 square km – 60% of our land would need to be growing food! This doesn’t take into account how much land is actually developed/available right now for growing anything on, window boxes, roof tops etc… Wow! It really would be a revolution… Not to mention bloody hard work!

Dunno about any of you, but I reckon: count your blessings, tighten your belt, sign up to ‘Meat Free Mondays’ (at very least, if not dairy free – go on see if you can do it!) – resolve yourself to enjoying to learn to cook lovely meals from scratch – get food aware and encourage others to do the same. After all, if we can all learn to live a little more lightly on our wonderful planet there’ll be a little bit more of it for our grandkids to enjoy! Sermon over (it is Sunday as I write!)

And if anyone fancies working with EMERGE to help us to deliver more food awareness work, please contact me in the first instance: 0161 223 8200 or also check out the following links - recommended by Debbie Ellen:

Food For Life Partnership and Food and Climate Research Network Nb. ‘The world on a plate: reducing the food chain's role in greenhouse gas emissions’ - a report to start you off.

Huge thanks to Mareen Winter who was a stunning organiser throughout and pulled off this event almost singlehandedly. Also to Mcr Uni for the venue and our friends at Taurus Bar (Canal Street) for lending us the glasses! I hope that everyone enjoyed the event as much as I did and left with a sense of hope that the food industry is committed to making changes and thinking more about the sustainability agenda and what they can be doing to make a difference.

Onwards & upwards!Lucy.


Monday, 7 June 2010

Summer Soup Surplus


This summer has seen a surplus of soup in Manchester – mountains of minestrone, cream of tomato, chicken and even green Thai soups.

According to FareShare, the food distribution charity based at New Smithfield Market, they have never had so much soup in stock, both tinned and fresh.

But they are having no problem in finding suitable kitchens to cook them, with over 40 community group members – feeding hundreds of homeless and low-income people – all benefitting in recent weeks.

This summer soup glut is a mystery and is just one of the issues likely to be aired on June 10th from 6-8pm at an awareness-raising event, hosted by EMERGE, the Manchester based social enterprise charity.

Entitled ‘Question Time on Food and Sustainability Issues’ the event will be run akin to the BBC’s Question Time format at University Place, Oxford Road, the University of Manchester.

The panel will be made up of a range of food “experts” headed by Mark Shayler, a former environment manager for Asda, who now runs consultancy Eco3, who will act as David Dimbleby in the role of chair. Pat Foreman, CEO of Food Northwest will be on the panel and Julie Bagnoli, a Business Link NW food sector advisor and proprietor of Isinglass restaurant.

Chris Shearlock, Environmental Manager at the Co-operative, Stefan Stainsby from WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign and Debbie Ellen, a Manchester based food researcher and grower, are also on the panel.

Tickets can be ordered online or bought on the evening of the event at the University Place though reservations in advance are preferred to avoid disappointment. Before the Question Time session, which starts at 6.00pm, there will be a drinks reception from 4.30pm to which all participants and Press are invited.

The event aims to raise awareness about the complexity of sustainable food supply chains & it promises to be a fascinating evening. We’re hoping for a real debate involving diverse and knowledgeable interventions from both the panel and the audience. People from different industries and backgrounds tend to have different views on, for instance, sourcing food locally or reducing packaging waste. This makes finding a solution for the issue much more challenging.

Please come and engage in what promises to be a thought provoking debate!



Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Zero Waste Week - Progress Update


Things are really taking off in our Zero Waste Week schools recycling programme, we have 13 schools signed up for the competition. We're 4 weeks into the scheme now and we're pleased to report that all of the schools involved are showing a marked reduction the the amount of waste produced. To see how the schools are getting on, take a look at our league table.

For more useful tips on how you can minimise your waste have a look at the Zero Waste Week pages on our website

Onwards & upwards!



Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Green Voters, What To Do?


For those still puzzling over who to vote for today, there was a really interesting article in yesterday's Guardian outlining what Green Voters should consider when deciding who to vote for: Click Here.

I'm very interested to hear what other voters are thinking about doing in today's election, feel free to comment below.

Onwards & upwards!



Thursday, 29 April 2010

EMERGE Launches Zero Waste Week


EMERGE is proud to launch Zero Waste Week, a competition to get schools in Manchester to slim their bins. All Manchester schools are being invited to enter in an effort to reduce their waste and the carbon emissions associated with it.

Register for Zero Waste Week by 7th May for the chance to win prizes for pupils, classes and staff. Click here to register.

Zero Waste Week will take place 28th June – 2nd with a run up of six weeks. Each week tackling a different theme.

Each theme has top tips on reducing your waste and free KS2 and KS3 assembly and lesson resources to download.

10th – 14th May Week 6 – General Waste and Why Recycle
17th – 21st May Week 5 – Paper and Cardboard Waste
24th – 28th May Week 4 – Metal Waste
7th – 11th June Week 3 – Compost and Food Waste
14th – 18th June Week 2 – Home and Staff Waste
21st – 25th June Week 1 – Plastic Waste
28th June – 2nd July Zero Waste Week

All waste, including recycling, will be measured at the beginning of the six week countdown and again during Zero Waste Week. The aim is that each school reduces the amount of waste it is producing per person.

At the end, all participating schools will receive a certificate showing their reduction of waste and what this looks like terms of CO2 emissions.

“This challenge provides an exciting opportunity for all staff and pupils to show that even small changes can make a difference and that anyone, whether adult or child, can do their bit in tackling climate change by living more sustainably.”
Denise Lambert, Education and Community Involvement Manager, EMERGE.

There are various categories for the prizes, including, the least waste produced per head, the school which has reduced its waste the most, the individual pupil and member of staff who has most taken the challenge to heart.

EMERGE would like to extend a big thank you to The Bridgewater Hall, Challenge for Change, Viridor, Neptune Innovations and Bike Right, which have all contributed to the various prizes that will be available to the schools that take part.

Zero Waste Week has been created to compliment Manchester’s Climate Change Action Plan to highlight the connection between waste and carbon emissions. Slimming your bin means cutting your carbon.


Friday, 16 April 2010

Environmental Advocates For Election


A quick follow up on my previous post about a local waste boss in Manchester making a stand against spurious landfill claims.

For those who are interested in making a balanced decision taking into account the environment as well as economic and social agendas when it comes to election day, check out today's article on the website which begins to outline who is standing where and what their stance is on the environment and green issues. More digging will be required no doubt to work out what your local candidates are saying...

Don't be afraid to ask those difficult questions when deciding which box to tick, part of the job is being publicly accountable after all. And if we don't engage and vote at all, how can we demand more from those who will ultimately gain the power?

Onwards & upwards!



Monday, 12 April 2010

Only in Japan!


This is probably old news to some of you, but I was very impressed at the logic and effiecient thinking behind this rather fun Japanese innovation (only to be eaten on very special occasions due to the prohibitive price as you might expect): The Square Melon!

This really appeals to me for several reasons; firstly the fruit is not genetically modified or changed in any way, secondly because the fruit can now be packed more efficiently you can transport more of them on fewer lorrys, hence they can have a significant impact on the carbon footprint of your fruit salad!

I think this kind of innovation is not only a bit of fun but could genuinely make a big difference if all melons were grown in this way (or in smaller boxes to bring the price down perhaps).

Whatever next? Straight Bananas?

Onwards & upwards!



Monday, 29 March 2010

Twitter Goes Green


It's fantastic to see how much support there is on Twitter for recycling and sustainability. I think it's an invaluable tool to spread the word about environmental issues and to co-ordinate with businesses and charities of a similar mindset.

EMERGE has been busy tweeting and it has already shown its worth by driving traffic to our main website, putting us in touch with a range of environmental groups and helping to raise our awareness of environmental issues in Manchester.

Here's 5 enviro-tweeps that I recommend you investigate:

@Recycle_This - Lovely blog all about recycling odds and sods.

@Ecosaveology - Another superb eco blog, loads of interesting updates.

@Carbonoutreach - Erica Grigg talks green.

@Windpoweruk - Tipi Man with a wealth of sustainability tips.

@EMERGErecycling - Well, I am biased! ;)

You can of course also follow me @lucydanger if you'd like to! If you fancy digging through a more extensive list, have a look at this page on Mashable.

Onwards & upwards!



Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Fareshare, Britain's 'Most Admired Charity'.


Some very exciting news not least for us humble franchisees: Fareshare has won the 'Most Admired Charity' Award for 2010!

It's really great to be involved with such a necessary, popular scheme. Our very own Manchester depot distributed over 200 tonnes of food to worthy benificiares across the Greater Manchester area since we set it up in partnership with FareShare National 18 months ago. FareShare Manchester has already supported nearly 70 beneficiary organisations who provide meals to the needy, those on low incomes, the homeless and in food poverty.

As a result of our work in the North West we have generated a great deal of positive publicity with help from partners like Foods North West. We're now beginning to raise awareness of the issues around in-date food surplus, much of which is currently wasted. We're also working to raise the profile of sustainability issues and support the healthy eating agenda in relation to food. For more info contact Paul Beswick on 0161 223 8200.

Hearty congratulations go to Tony Lowe and everyone involved in the FareShare charity.

Onwards & upwards!



Thursday, 25 February 2010

Climate vs. Weather


It has always been something of a bugbear of mine that whenever I talk about climate change there is always one sceptic who will say something along the lines of "Climate change, that's a load of rubbish, look at all this snow/sun/etc" completely missing the point that there is in fact a difference between Climate and Weather!

I very much enjoyed reading this article on the times website which nicely surmises the difference between the two. It also explains why it is paramount that we heed the advice of climate change scientists and disregard the opinions of journalists and the media who have neglected to commit the time to even understand the difference between the two, or the scale of the challenge we are currently facing.

Onwards & upwards!



Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Congratulations EMERGE Drivers!


Big Congratulations are in order to our recycling operations crew at EMERGE for achieving their NVQ Level 2 certification in Environmental Conservation and Community Recycling! We've posted the full story on the EMERGE website but I thought it was worth taking this opportunity to say how proud I am of the hard work our collections crew do day in day out, helping businesses and schools in Manchester and the surrounding area to recycle their waste.

A further good news story is that Vicki Leng, Secondary School Leader within our Environmental Education Team and a passionate veg grower has helped our sister subsidiary, EMERGE Food, to secure £10k from Manchester City Council's Carbon Innovation Fund to establish a "grow your own" demonstration and learning garden on site here at New Smithfield Market in the heart of East Manchester.

Supported by the Council's Markets Dept, this innovative new project will work to connect local residents with local growers, teach 'grow your own' skills to inspire people to grow veg in their backyards/windowsills/communal areas and will generally link to our rapidly developing food awareness and healthy eating activities. Congratulations Vicki!

If you'd like to get more involved or want to contribute to our activities in some way, please contact Denise at EMERGE.

Onwards and upwards!



MRF Strikes Again


I was disappointed to read yet another report of the shocking levels of wastage generate by Materials Reclamation Facilities ('MRF's). It seems that Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority have released figures showing that at one of their facilities up to one tonne in every seven sent for reprocessing is then sent onto landfill.

Just another example of the potential for enormous inefficiencies in these facilities, as I had outlined in my previous blog post: MRF - Mechanical Recovery Fallacy.. Meanwhile, despite their set up and running costs, MRFs and their associated technologies continue to be cited as a marvellous invention in doing the work of separating our wasted resources...

At risk of sounding like a Luddite, how many people are currently out of work? And what about the lost opportunities to reiterate the resource efficiency message with the people who take the time to segregate materials for reprocessing?

Onwards & upwards!


EMERGE Recycling

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Climate Change: Don't Believe The Hype!


I came across an article on the Independent's website the other day which nicely surmises what I've been feeling recently about the 'climate change' debate. A lot of sceptics felt vindicated by the climategate scandal and there were implications that in some way the incident disproves all of the science which points towards anthropogenic global warming.

Whilst I agree with the sceptics that the alleged misconduct of the minority of climate scientists involved does damage the credibility of the science, I don't believe that it gives anyone carte blanche to completely ignore the evidence their studies have produced.

As the world's leading scientists work on the 5th assessment report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change I think we have to listen very carefully to their findings. Hopefully when the government's independent inquiry reveals their findings in March, we can put this controversy to bed and focus once more on the science of climate change and the actions we need to take to reduce it and mitigate against its impacts.

Onwards & upwards!



Monday, 1 February 2010

Vacancies at EMERGE

EMERGE - East Manchester based Charitable Enterprise Seeking:

Customer Services Administrator

A resourceful hard working individual with experience delivering customer service at a high level to assist in delivery of recycling services to business customers; £12–14k/35 hr pw.

P/T Sales Ledger & Credit Control Clerk

Experienced, mature person required to support excellent customer services as key member of EMERGE’s small finance team. Proven communication skills essential inc ability and experience in securing payment from customers upto 21hrs/£13.8-15.5k pro rata, 9.30-3, Mon-Thur, negotiable.

P/T Finance Manager

Experienced individual to support strategic management of the Group’s finances, producing monthly management accounts & related performance information. Will oversee & develop financial systems inc the work of small finance team. Negotiable terms, e.g. 7-14 hrs paid to max £30 p/hr.

FOR INFO: To request an application pack, contact us via either: or Tel: 0161 223 8200

DEADLINE for applications 8th Feb 5pm.


Thursday, 28 January 2010

MRF = Mechanical Recovery Fallacy?


Following on from my previous post about a local manchester waste boss making a stand against deceptive waste management companies, I thought I should probably do something to explain what the real issue is and why we are so incensed about it.

There is quite a comprehensive article on Wikipedia which explains in detail what an MRF is and how it operates. In effective it is a facility which uses mechanical procedures to sort co-mingled recyclates into single waste streams, which in principal is a good thing as it allows for co-mingled (i.e. unsorted) waste to be collected which simplifies waste collection for the waste producer. However the problem is that it is an inherently inefficient system, as not all of the material collected can be sorted by the MRF correctly and there is still a considerable amount of material which has to be sent to landfill due to issues like cross-contamination (to produce high quality secondary materials the recyclate needs to be as clean as possible).

It is due to these operational inefficiencies that WRAP published a report in July last year advocating segregated kerbside collections as the most efficient method of domestic recyclate collection.

The main issue with using a MRF for recycling business waste is that you have no guarantee that the waste you send to be recycled actually will be. As far as I am concerned, if you don't know for definite that your company's waste is being recycled, you may as well be sending it directly to landfill! The very valid concern raised in my previous post is that whilst MRF-end recycling services provide an 'easier ' experience for waste producing businesses and their employees, the reality is that from a responsible, environmental and duty of care perspective you have no idea what is actually going to happen to your waste.

If we can all get used to recognising the value (and in some cases, toxicity) in everyday resources by establishing simple segregation systems in our home and work places and then using them consistently, not only will we be behaving more responsibly, but we can show the way, encouraging others to do the same and contributing to a 'virtuous circle' in turn helping our economy and the environment. Winner!

Onwards & upwards!



Monday, 25 January 2010

Manchester Waste Boss Makes A Stand


I was really pleased to see a fellow local waste boss, Marcus Farmer is taking a stand against spurious claims made by waste contractors, many of whom are telling businesses that their waste is being recycled when in fact the majority of it is sent to landfill.

Ever since EMERGE's inception I've been an advocate of ensuring that waste is dealt with not only sustainably but also legally and responsibly. Wherever possible we ensure that our material reprocessors are as close as possible to Manchester, in some instances we have even rejected reprocessors who offer us better deals because of the inherent environmental impact of the longer journeys required to use their facilities.

It saddens me to think that there are operations like EMERGE dedicated to not only encouraging businesses to recycle but also doing their damndest to ensure they are legally compliant and minimising their environmental impact wherever possible who will lose business to 'cowboy' traders that will not dispose of waste in the manner their customers expect.

I'm all in favour of Marcus' stance and his complaint to trading standards for further investigation. For Manchester to achieve all of its goals for sustainability we need to ensure that only the most thorough, integrous, sustainable and legally compliant waste carriers are allowed to operate in our city.

Onwards & upwards!



Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Green To The Death!


A slightly morbid topic today, but have you ever wondered what you could to to help reduce the environmental impact of your death? I read this article about an environmental alternative to cremation. According to the article, an average cremation can produce as much as 400Kg of Carbon Dioxide. This so-called green alternative (called Resomation) uses an alkaline hydrolosis system which requires only 10% of the natural gas used in a normal cremation to reduce the human body to a extremely unpleasant sounding 'brown syrup'.

My main concern is that in order for this procedure to work, potassium hydroxide must be used to dissolve the tissue. I've spoken to one of my colleagues at EMERGE, who knows a lot more about chemistry than me and he says that the method used to manufacture Potassium Hydroxide is electrolysis, a hideously inefficient method which not only uses a considerable amount of electricity but also produces a significant amount of unpleasant chemical by-products. So before we even think about the waste outputs of resomation, the process already has a significant environmental footprint from the energy utilised.

After the resomation process has occured, the lovely syrup together with residual potassium hydroxide waste are then simply be poured down the drain according to the process information! Unless we are 100% certain that the potassium hydroxide has been fully neutralised, I'm not clear that we should encourage its disposal direct into our water systems. I can't imagine this is a responsible way to dispose of potentially hazardous chemical waste let alone any heavy metals potentially present from the liquidised body!

I'm all for progressive thinking and technological solutions and funerals are no less problematic than other areas of life - but perhaps there are simpler ways to go about it, for instance cardboard coffins and green burials.

Onwards & upwards!



Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Small Businesses Refuse To Buy Green?


I read an article the other day by, normally they send me very useful articles about general business practice, written by someone well-informed in the industry.

I was quite suprised when I received this article: Small Businesses Refuse To Go Green from them. The article describes how a study conducted by Enterprise-Rent-A-Car shows that across the UK one in ten SMEs would refuse to use a greener alternative product even if it represented a cheaper, more convenient option for their business!

I've not been able to see the report itself, but part of me thinks actually the way this is reported is a total misrepresentation of the facts, surely if one in ten businesses refuse to consider a green alternative, doesn't that mean that nine in ten do? If so then 90% of businesses across the UK are happy to consider green alternative products, which sounds like good news to me!

Cost is named and shamed as the main reason why some SME's will not consider using green products, which for small businesses is understandable. If the cost of the green alternative is competative however, I cannot comprehend why any SME would not consider green alternatives.

Onwards & upwards!



Friday, 8 January 2010

New Year, New Ideas?


I read an article on the Times website about a way to run your car on recycled materials, it seems that one entrepreneur has discovered that by blasting waste with highly presurrised steam in a rotating drum it is possible to extract the high-calorific organic materials which can then be reprocessed to produce bioethanol.

It sounds like a good way of treating organic materials, though plastics and metals will still have to be removed from the mix and treated in the normal manner. That said I would prefer people to spend their time and money looking at other ways of powering automobiles, i.e. hydrogen or renewably sourced electricity.

I'm convinced the future lies in encouraging people to waste less, to minimise their individual outputs and think before they buy. That said the more ways we have of treating the waste rather than burying it in a pit, the better!

Onwards & upwards!



Friday, 1 January 2010

My New Years Resolution - 10:10


Phew! The new year is with us and once again the opportunity for new beginnings... Many of you will be thinking about resolutions and what you want from the year ahead. Whilst there will undoubtedly be a lot of people giving up various evils (cigarettes? cafeine, wine! and so on) I wonder if many people will be thinking about carbon?

I'd sincerely recommend to anyone who wants to commit to making a change in 2010, take a look at the 10:10 campaign website and sign up if you can. The more people who take part in making positive actions as set out by 10:10 the bigger the difference... whilst denial is a problem, defeatism is equally, it's all about creating a bigger, stronger critical mass.

In the spirit of goodwill towards all, peace, prosperity (without damaging our amazing planet!) I've signed up, made the pledge and will be doing my utmost to reduce my emissions by 10% in 2010 (loft re-insulation completed mid December so hopefully that's a good start!).

Happy carbon reducing New Year!