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SnippETS for 5 April 2018

This week in SnippETS we take a look at manipulation of real & fake news, how cities are setting sustainable futures; the insurance and property sectors and an area under climate threat on the West Coast of NZ; how repairing is good for the environment; jeans that will last 50 years; the benefits of having bottle deposits schemes; making paper from poo and looking at the good work four major Asian companies are doing.

We open with the fallout from the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica tryst that continues to send shockwaves around the political world. This time we examine how it may be adversely impacted on fighting climate change in enabling Trump to be elected as the US President. As the article discusses, no wonder Trump hates the Paris Agreement so much – it is the diametric opposite of everything he believes and aspires for, i.e. he thrives in chaos and disruption.

At least positive action is occurring at a municipal and city level, with over 100 cities reporting they are now mostly powered by renewable energy. This represents a doubling of the number of cities to achieve this since 2015 and has been largely spurred on by the global covenant of more than 7,400 mayors that formed in the wake of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord.

While climate change has often been denied by some in the industrial sector, there are parts of the economy that are no longer in denial. The property and insurance sectors have taken notice of their increased exposure to climate change related extreme weather events, and are taking action to protect their interests. With liabilities of well over 100 trillion dollars in the USA alone, we can be sure they will not sit in silence.

Closer to home, climate change is currently having a massive impact on coastal New Zealand. A large portion of Kiwis live close to the ocean and much of our road and energy infrastructure runs along the coast. Already insurance companies are saying they will not cover properties exposed to coastal risks. While we have yet to see definitive action in NZ from government and industry, people in exposed areas are already feeling the pain.

Repair cafes are springing up in the UK, and are gaining interest from all around the world. As places you can take those “items that have broken but you know would be great for someone if only they could be repaired”, they have managed to achieve good diversion from landfills. A good idea, and hopefully more will open. It would be much better if things were made to last longer.

Those “old favourites” are possibly about to become even older and more comfortable… soon you will be able to purchase jeans with a 50 year guarantee, that are supposedly going to get better with age. With the current huge wastage in the textiles industry, with 25% of worlds chemicals used in textile production, 10% of carbon emissions coming from apparel industry, and poor recycling rates, hopefully this will be the way of the future.

It used to be something kids did for pocket-money, returning glass bottles to the shop for a few cents. Now a deposit scheme is being implemented in England that not only includes glass bottles, but plastic and metal drink containers too. Producers will, at last, be paying the full costs of their packaging – hopefully NZ will also consider doing this.

Recycling paper isn’t all that efficient and environmentally sustainable. However, scientists have found a new way to generate environmentally friendly paper – from cow and elephant poo. Although this may seem strange and unconventional, this ‘poo-per’ actually offers a more simple and sustainable alternative to the traditional, resource-intense papermaking process.

While in the west much of the discussion around sustainability stems from the desire to ‘do the right thing’, in Asia an increasing number of firms are harnessing sustainability’s potential for profit. This article explores the difference in the outlooks on sustainability between east and west and then looks more closely at four leading Asian firms that have profited from virtue.

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