HSE International

Apple ‘leads the way’ on reducing environmental harm

Apple is doing more than any other electronics manufacturer to address the negative effect it has on the environment, according to Greenpeace, but the industry as a whole still faces major challenges to ensure a “toxic-free future”.

With sales of electronics gadgets set to reach 2.5 billion this year the charity’s Green Gadgets report underlines the need for global companies like Apple, Samsung and Dell to act with urgency to meet the “growing environmental crisis”.

Greenpeace says that the electronics industry still needs to embrace renewable energy and eliminate hazardous chemicals from its manufacturing processes.


Last month Apple bowed to pressure and banned two dangerous chemicals that were exposing hundreds of thousands of staff in China to a greater risk of cancer, nerve damage and paralysis from its final assembly plants.

The toxins, still widely used by other manufacturers, include n-hexane, which is usually used to clean smudges from screens prior to packing them in boxes, and benzene, which is used to coat certain electronic components.

Some companies are moving slowly despite increasing pressure to adopt more “green” manufacturing processes, but Greenpeace International campaigner Tom Dowdall said that Apple had made greater steps than its competitors.

“Apple has shown us a glimpse of what is possible, leading the industry on the elimination of the worst chemicals and starting to address the huge environmental impact of electronics manufacturing,” he said.

“But this is just the beginning – major industry players should take up the challenge to create truly sustainable products and help us build a greener future.”

More than half of the mobile phone market – represented by Samsung, Apple and Nokia – is now free from the worst hazardous substances: Polyvinylchloride (PVC) and Brominated flame retardants.

However, Apple remains the only company to have eliminated the use of these substances in all its products.

Greenpeace said that Samsung, the world’s biggest electronics company, has failed to meet its elimination goals for products beyond mobiles, joining Dell in backtracking on previous public phase out commitments. Samsung did not respond to a request for comment.

A Dell spokesman said: “We actively consider the environment at every stage of the product lifecycle and seek sustainable materials when viable alternatives exists. Our sustainable approach to design has been validated with awards such as ISRI’s 2014 Design for Recycling Award and earlier this year we worked with UL Environment to achieve the first third-party validation for our closed-loop recycling system. There’s always more that can be done, and we’ll continue to work alongside our partners and suppliers to advocate for sustainable business practices in line with our 2020 Legacy of Good Plan.”

Overall, electronics companies are failing to address their growing carbon footprint, said Greenpeace. The manufacturing of phones, laptops and other devices requires a huge amount of energy and is concentrated in East Asia where coal dominates energy production.

Some companies, like Lenovo and Huawei, have taken first steps with small solar installations on Chinese factories, while Apple is planning the first 100 per cent renewable energy factory to make iPhone screens.

“As a hotbed of innovation, the electronics industry is perfectly placed to reimagine how our phones, laptops and TVs are made and sold. Companies should be designing for the future, not the dump. Toxic-free, durable electronics made with renewable energy shouldn’t be a dream but a reality,” said Dowdall.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1w5q6R2

London Pair Arrested as Met Police Uncovers Plot to Flood Market with Millions of Fake Medicines

Two London men have been arrested over their alleged involvement in flooding the world’s pharmaceuticals market with potentially life-threatening fake medicines.

It is thought that around £12m has been taken from victims from as far as Australia in exchange for counterfeit impotency, slimming and anti-smoking pills that were sold on more than 400 websites since March 2012.

Scotland Yard officers arrested a 62-year-old man from Hackney and a 34-year-old man from Barnet yesterday on suspicion of money laundering, fraud and supplying misleading/false information.

They found evidence including accounts books, trading documents, computers and approximately £30,000 cash, which was also seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Officers believe the men laundered money through a local charity as part of a Europe-wide operation that involved Asian manufacturers producing phoney drugs, which were then sold across the world but with most victims being European.

The pair remain in custody at a north London police station while searches and inquiries continue.

Detective chief superintendent Tom Manson, of the MPS Specialist, Organised and Economic Crime Command, said: “Today’s operation with our counterparts in Austria and Europol has been about taking down a highly organised crime group who make an incredible amount of money by selling potentially harmful drugs to unsuspecting members of the public, some of whom are in the UK.

“These so-called medicines are peddled on very professional looking websites which feature convincing medical advice, but the people behind them have no medical training.”

In total, yesterday’s pan-European operation resulted in the seizure of several million pills with an estimated value well in excess of £7.9m, huge stacks of cash and luxury cars, as well as the freezing of more than £6m in bank accounts and assets.

In the last two years, UK authorities have identified more than £9.5m in transactions involving counterfeit and unlicensed medicines.

Across the continent, European authorities seized more than 300,000 pills since September 2012 with an estimated value of £1.5m in Austria alone.

However, it is thought that represents just one-fifth of the total transactions made by the crime network in Austria.

In France, payments totalling £7.14m were identified as having been processed over three years, while in Spain, counterfeit goods worth more than £1.1m have been seized and three people arrested.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1qXmQ5N

Unusual renewables: bacon-powered motorbikes and cars run on chocolate

According to the food company, Hormel, it takes one pound of bacon grease to produce one gallon of fuel (4.5 litres), which can cover between 75 and 100 miles on a motorbike. The Minnesota-based business has recently collaborated with a biodiesel firm to build the world’s first motorbike fuelled by pig grease, Driven by Bacon. Its creators say that it’s environmentally conscious and has the added bonus of emitting bacon-scented fumes.

Using animal grease and fat as fuel isn’t anything new, but Driven by Bacon – conceived as part of an advertising campaign – is just one quirky example of how designers and entrepreneurs are finding new ways to meet future energy demands with technology that is disruptive, modular and eco-friendly.

Energy from chocolate waste

Like animal fat and grease, food waste can also be turned into fuel. A few years ago, researchers at the University of Warwick launched a Formula 3 car that ran on chocolate.

Scientists have previously produced hydrogen by feeding sugar-munching bacteria nougat and caramel waste provided by a Cadbury’s factory. Fed into a fuel cell, the hydrogen reacted with oxygen and generated clean electricity, which was used to power a fan. Lynne Macaskie, a bioscientist from the University of Birmingham, led the research and observed that the technology could be scaled up for industrial electricity and waste treatment purposes. This would save manufacturers costs by reducing the amount of waste that needs processing.

Hydrogen was produced from nougat and caramel waste from a Cadbury’s factory.Photograph: David Levene/David Levene


Batteries operated by sweat

The vision of using bodily fluids to power our future is not new, but it is curious. Some have used glucose and oxygen found in bodily fluids to power implanted biofuel cells, while others have used the salts in urine to power batteries.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed temporary tattoos that can power electronic devices by generating and storing energy from sweat. The tattoo contains small sensors (biobatteries) that strip electrons from lactate – which is naturally present in sweat – and generates an electric current (around 4 watts, but there are plans to improve it). The challenge is keeping the biobattery charged. Also research showed that a fit person would have to have to exercise harder to keep the battery charged as it takes them longer to work up a sweat.

The hope is that wearable technology could have a significant impact on biomedical and military research that involves intense exercise regimes. Aside from using people power as a renewable energy source, biobatteries are more efficient than conventional batteries: they don’t explode or leak chemicals. And temporary tattoos can be easily recharged or disposed of.

Sweat biobattery. Photograph: University of California San Diego/ACS (American Chemical Society)


Floors powered by human movement

The human body contains a copious amount of energy, and harvesting it can be used to charge smartphone batteries and power lightbulbs. The process of converting movement into energy, known as piezoelectricity, is being picked up by companies such as Pavegen.

In Rotterdam, Energy Floors launched the world’s first energy-generating dance floor. The kinetic energy of dancing or walking is converted into electricity that powers the floor’s LED bulbs.

Energy Floors
Energy Floors. Photograph: Energy Floors


3D printed technology

3D printing may be all the rage in the food industry, but it could also be used to produce modular renewable energy technology that can be put together like Lego bricks.

The Poland-based printer manufacturer, Omni3D, has developed a 3D printed wind turbine that is foldable and can fit in a rucksack. It can generate 300 watts of clean energy – enough to charge mobile phones and lightbulbs and power small appliances. It has a modular design meaning it can be assembled anywhere without tools or a manual.

“The turbine can be easily disassembled so you may take it with you wherever you want. You might take it camping and you don’t need gas-powered generators,” says Konrad Sierzputowski, one of Omni3D’s co-founders. Sierzputowski and his team also say that such technology could have a big influence on off-grid communities in developing countries. They are currently raising funding through KickStarter in the hope of making the product scalable.


Battery-less lamps

In developing countries, kerosene lamps are a hazard and fuels are not always affordable, but battery-less lights can prove to be more efficient than solar. The GravityLight device is powered by gravity and a weight, like a bag of sand. The weight is hung from a chord below the light, and as the weight descends a mechanism inside the device translates the weight into energy. Unlike other battery-free lights, such as wind-up ones, the GravityLight requires less effort, because if the light goes out it can be turned on by hanging the bag again – three seconds of lifting a 9kg bag provides 25 minutes of light.

The designers behind the product say that it’s a game-changer for off-grid communities. The device could also provide emergency lighting during disaster relief operations. It’s expected to be available commercially in 2015.

GravityLight. Photograph: Gravity Light.


Original Source: http://bit.ly/1rb1upm

Poor pallet hygiene poses threat to UK economy

“UK businesses using wood packaging materials for shipping goods could be putting the health and safety of staff at serious risk and causing untold damage to the UK economy”, says Jim Hardisty, Managing Director of Goplasticpallets.com.

This warning comes after a staff member for the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon, fell ill at one of its depots after handling packaging on goods imported to the UK.*

GMB, the union for staff at Amazon, is convinced that the illness is linked to insects carried in the packaging and has called for the company to conduct a thorough, independent risk assessment of the dangers of insect contamination in wood and other packaging of goods imported from abroad.

Jim continues: “Although all wood packaging used for transporting goods into the EU or out of Portugal (a known pinewood nematode area) must be heat treated in accordance with ISPM 15 regulations to kill off pests, it’s clear that insect invasions from abroad remain a very real threat to the UK economy.

“In May this year, the Ecological Society of America discovered the emerald ash borer in the wood packing material of goods imported into North America. This case surely strengthens the argument for enforcing stricter safety checks worldwide for verifying ISPM 15 compliancy and for extending ISPM 15 by making it compulsory to heat treat all wood pallets and crates moving within EU member states – something the European Commission is in the process of reviewing.

“Poor pallet hygiene however is a much bigger topic than insect contamination alone. Mould and bacteria are other common signs that pallets are being kept in unsanitary conditions which, when using plastic varieties, can be easily combatted with regular cleaning as plastic pallets are 100 per cent water resistant. Timber pallets are much harder to preserve as even kiln dried varieties contain some moisture, making them susceptible to mould growth and blue stain fungus.

“The timber industry is fully aware of the hygiene issues with wooden pallets and to their credit TIMCON – the Timber Packaging & Pallet Confederation – has launched a new Essential Guide Pack** for drying timber pallets to keep them mould-free.

“Guide or no guide, the fact remains that wooden pallets are still inherently more likely to harbour contaminants than plastic ones – the only variety that can be repeatedly steam cleaned and reused guaranteeing optimum hygiene throughout its working life.”


Original Source: http://mhwmagazine.co.uk/news-item.asp?id=16916

Nettles, tofu and snail poo: sustainable textiles made from the unexpected

The global textile industry is among the most polluting and wasteful in the world, but there are some weird and wonderful material innovations out there.

Snail poo

Snail poo
Sample of snail’s excrement. Photograph: Lieske Schreuder

During a snail plague in her garden that involved old paper boxes, Dutch designer Lieske Schreuder discovered that if snails eat coloured paper it dyes their poo.

From here, Schreuder bought hundreds of snails, built a laboratory and collected their bright-hued poo, using a machine she built to grind and mix it and turn it into flexible threads. It takes around five days for nine snails to produce the amount of poo necessary for one metre of thread.

The use of snail poo in fashion is probably limited to haute couture and limited further by the fact the material is temporary and will eventually biodegrade.

Schreuder assures anyone concerned that paper is of a similar cell structure cellulose to plants and trees and that no snails are harmed in the making of snail poo thread.

Tofu waste

Soy fabric is made from by-product of tofu. Photograph: Mediablitzimages (UK) Limited/Alamy

Soy fabric is made from the by-product of soy foods such as tofu and soybean oil. The soy protein is liquefied and extruded into long, continuous fibres that are cut and processed like cotton. While soy fabric production helps reduce waste, only 2-3% of the world’s soy supply is certified (pdf) and the crop has links with poor labour conditions and deforestation in the Amazon.

Wolffish skin

Icelandic tannery, Atlantic Leather is taking perch, salmon, wolffish and cod skin, a by-product of the fisheries industry and turning it into leather for luxury fashion.


Outdoor clothing company Patagonia partnered with clean technology company Yulux to create a wetsuit less dependent on the synthetic, petroleum-derived material, neoprene. The resulting co-developed wetsuit which will be part of Patagonia’s Autumn/Winter 2014 collection, is 40% neoprene and 60% plant-based biorubber derived from the desert plant, guayule.

Patagonia is making the biorubber available to the rest of the surf industry in order to encourage volume up and force price down.

Abandoned sleeping bags

Festival camping
View of tents on the campsites at Glastonbury festival 2008. Photograph: David Levene

In 2011 the Association of Independent Festivals found that one in six tents were left behind at festivals. Some 12,000 tents were abandoned at the Isle of Wight festival in that year alone. Taking tents, tarpaulins and sleeping bags left behind at the the 2013 Secret Garden Party festival, design students at Nottingham Trent University turned festival waste into fashion.

Recreated cotton

The 2014 State of Sustainability Initiatives Review which charted the development of identity cotton initiatives, has estimated that by 2020 organic and standard compliant cotton could account for a quarter of global production.

Going even further, Swedish companies recently presented the world’s first garment made entirely from recycled cotton after Scientists at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology developed a way of recreating the fibre.


Stinging nettles
Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

The use of nettles for fabric dates back to the Bronze Age in Denmark, where nettle fibres have been found in burial sites. In a four-year project funded by the UK government department Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Camira Fabrics and De Montfort University sought to make the common stinging nettle fashionable once again.

A perennial crop often considered a pest, nettles grow on land often unsuitable for other crops without the need for pesticides, herbicides or much water. The fibres in nettles are strong and elastic with in-built fire retardant properties and the linen-like material it can be spun into is naturally anti-bacterial and mould-resistant. Back in 2006, Dutch fashion label, Brennels started growing its own nettles in eastern Europe.


From coffee to crop top? Photograph: Puerre Andrieu /AFP/Getty Images

Coffee is one of the world’s most widely traded tropical agricultural commodity. Since the early 1980s coffee consumption has increased by around 1.2% every year, rising to 2% more recently. In Japan, the world’s third largest importer of coffee, the taste for coffee has been even stronger at around an annual increase of 3.5%.

That’s lots of cups of coffee, and a lot of coffee waste. Taiwanese fabric manufacturer Singtex is adding coffee ground waste collected from coffee shops to cotton to create an odour eating, UV protective and fast drying fabric. Singtex claims the the textile is perfect for denim and outdoor wear like running and cycling gear.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1tdA6b5

Apple iPhones Get (a little) Less Toxic

This spring, Green America’s Bad Apple: End Smartphone Sweatshops campaign, in partnership with China Labor Watch (CLW), called on Apple to remove toxic chemicals including benzene and n-hexane from its supplier factories in China. Five months after the launch, with 23,000 petition signatures, Apple announced on August 14 that it would “prohibit the use of benzene and n-hexane” at 22 of its final-assembly supplier factories, 18 of which are in China.

What are Benzene and N-Hexane?

A known carcinogen, benzene can cause leukemia, a blood cancer, and leukopenia, a dangerously low white blood cell count. The chemical n-hexane is a neurotoxicant that can cause nerve damage and paralysis. The dangers of these vaporous chemicals are compounded after long exposure, as is almost universally the case for workers in the electronics sector who work on average 11 hours a day. Of course there are thousands of other chemicals used in electronics manufacturing, some of which lack adequate testing and many of which are not disclosed by Apple.

What does this commitment mean for workers?

Apple’s commitment, effective September 1, 2014, means that the estimated 500,000 workers who work in Apple’s final-assembly, or “first-tier,” suppliers can no longer work with or be exposed to benzene and n-hexane. These factories represent roughly 5% of Apple’s suppliers in China. Apple’s 331 other suppliers in China are second- or third-tier suppliers, who make and assemble the parts of Apple’s products, such as the plastic encasement of an iPhone or laptop, the buttons, or chargers. An estimated 1 million workers work deeper in Apple’s supply chain, where chemical monitoring and safety measures are believed to be less controlled than in first-tier facilities.

Who Pays the Price? The Human Cost of Electronics”, a 10-minute documentary, profiles several of the millions of migrant electronics workers in China.

How does this commitment affect the toxicity of cell phones?

Thanks to a 2007 Greenpeace campaign, Apple committed to reducing or banning a number of toxic substances in its iPhones, including brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and chlorinated plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC)—which had been linked to thyroid problems, learning disabilities in children, and other health issues. Apple has also banned lead and mercury from its final products. However, these bans apply only to the final products and not to the manufacturing processes, which means workers still run the risk of being exposed to these chemicals.

In 2012, HealthyStuff.org published a study that ranked 36 phones on their hazardous substances content. You can check how your phone scored here.

What’s next?

With production set to ramp up this fall with the release of the iPhone 6, Green America and CLW are now calling on Apple to extend the chemical ban to substances other than benzene and n-hexane, and to all of its supplier factories, including early-production facilities. We will also ramp up the pressure on Apple’s competitors.

If you’ve ever wondered if signing a petition can really make a difference, this campaign has shown that it can. In just 5 months, with the backing of thousands of Apple customers, we’ve been able to push one of the biggest companies in the world to change its ways and protect workers from hazardous chemicals.

You too can thank Apple for taking this step and help Green America keep up the pressure on Apple. Take action!

Green America is part of Safer Chemicals’ coalition to push Congress and retailers for more sane laws and policies on toxic chemicals.

Original Source: http://saferchemicals.org/2014/08/18/apple-iphones-get-a-little-less-toxic/

Second Jaguar Land Rover advertisement banned for encouraging unsafe driving

Carmaker Jaguar Land Rover has had a second advertisement in as many months banned for promoting speed and unsafe driving.

The video – called The Art Of Villainy – on the company’s YouTube channel featured actor Tom Hiddleston playing a suave British villain who drives a Jaguar F-Type out of a car park and along a public road.

A viewer contacted the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) complaining that the ad was socially irresponsible because it encouraged unsafe driving.

The company defended the ad, saying it was set almost entirely in an underground car park, with the car stationary for much of the time.

Jaguar also said police were present during filming and the car was not speeding at any time after it left the car park and accelerated briefly on The Embankment in London.

The ASA accepted that the ad focused on the car’s appearance and performance rather than speed.

But it said acceleration and speed did feature when the car was shown driving up a ramp to exit the underground car park and when it was shown on a public road at night.

The advertising watchdog said: “Whilst we acknowledged the sequences were brief, we considered that the second part of the ad suggested that the car was being driven at excessive speeds and that the ad therefore encouraged irresponsible driving.”

It ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form, adding: “We told Jaguar Land Rover not to portray speed or driving behaviour that might encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly in future.”

Original Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/10924208/Jaguar-advert-banned-for-focus-on-speed.html


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