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180 countries take first steps towards global plastics treaty



Welcome to another fortnightly edition of SnippETS.


We start with some positive news as representatives from over 180 countries have taken the first steps towards a global plastics treaty during talks in Paris. The treaty aims to regulate plastic production, consumption, and waste management. This breakthrough is seen as a positive step in addressing the urgent problem of plastic pollution.


Our next article explores the environmental impact of eating locally sourced-food. It discusses the benefits of reducing food miles and supporting local farmers but also acknowledges the complexity and variability of factors involved, emphasizing the need for a holistic approach to sustainable food systems. Speaking of locally sourced- foods, regenerative agriculture has the potential to benefit both farms and the planet. Students highlight the positive environmental impact of regenerative practices and advocate for their widespread adoption in the agricultural sector.


The revival of Silvopasture, an ancient farming practice, is examined, highlighting the positive outcomes of integrating trees, forage crops, and livestock. Successful global examples across the United States and Spain showcase the environmental and economic advantages of this approach. There are many other ways of exploring sustainable practices for resource management. One of them is on-site distributed premise water recycling, focusing on graywater and blackwater recycling. We explore the benefits, challenges, and potential of treating and reusing wastewater at the source. Subsequently, we illuminate the potential of New Zealand's fiords' deep-seated blue carbon in mitigating climate change, emphasizing the significance of acknowledging and conserving these invaluable coastal ecosystems.


The rising significance of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) as a substitute for conventional jet fuels has slowly started to gain traction. We delve deeper into the advantages, obstacles, different types and the imperative for wider acceptance within the aviation sector. Speaking of sustainable ways and modes of travel and transportation, France plans to invest $2 billion to double its bike lanes and promote cycling as a means of transportation. Our next article highlights a recycling initiative in New Zealand that transforms potentially toxic plasterboard waste into valuable resources for gardening.


Concluding this week's highlights is a positive development in the realm of AI. The "Climate Cardinals" initiative employs artificial intelligence (AI) to translate climate information into various languages, intending to promote worldwide climate awareness and knowledge dissemination.


Hoping by its proponents to be the new Montreal Protocol, which saw the elimination of ozone-depleting substances, the first steps have been agreed on a game-changing plastics treaty. Attended by delegates from 180 nations and dozens of other stakeholders, the talks produced widespread agreement on the core features of a future treaty. Many countries also agreed the treaty should be legally binding, not voluntary. It is a major milestone in reducing the plastic waste that has become so ubiquitous in the environment. Read more...


The question of whether eating local food is better for the environment is a complex one. While consuming local produce can reduce emissions associated with transportation, it doesn't always guarantee a lower carbon footprint. Factors like farming practices, energy use, and food storage also play a significant role. A balanced approach that combines local and global sourcing, focusing on sustainable farming practices and reducing waste, is crucial for achieving environmental sustainability in our food choices. Read more....


Regenerative agriculture, according to students, has the potential to save both farms and the planet. This technique focuses on restoring soil health, enhancing biodiversity, and sequestering carbon. By implementing practices like crop rotation, cover cropping, and minimal tillage, regenerative agriculture aims to regenerate ecosystems and improve overall farm resilience. Students argue that this holistic approach not only benefits the environment but also increases farm productivity and profitability. It is also a key solution to address the challenges of climate change and sustainable food production. Read more....


An age-old farming technique is experiencing a resurgence due to its numerous benefits. Silvopasture, involves integrating trees, livestock, and forage crops on the same land, resulting in multiple advantages. It enhances soil health, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, promotes biodiversity, and provides economic benefits for farmers. It also offers a sustainable solution to climate change and contributes to the production of healthy, high-quality food. Read more....


Can you imagine drinking beer brewed using purified greywater? Or a wastewater treatment facility on top of buildings? San Francisco is pushing past the yuck factor of localised wastewater treatment and are at the forefront of a movement to recycle wastewater. All new buildings of more than 9,300 square meters are required to have on-site water recycling systems – such as the system at the San Francisco Salesforce Tower which saves around 30 million litres of water per year. Read more....


Meanwhile, a new carbon capture opportunity may have a place in New Zealand – Blue Carbon. Blue Carbon refers to carbon captured by a marine environment, using methods such as kelp farming, planting mangroves and restoring wetlands. Scotland is leading the way in the blue carbon space, establishing a blue carbon forum in 2018 that facilitates science and policy development in Scotland’s fiords. These same opportunities can be applied to fiords here in New Zealand Read more....


Sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), could help the industry in becoming more sustainable and reduce emissions. There are 2 main categories of SAFs: biofuels and synthetic electrofuels. Biofuels come from a range of biological sources; some are derived from waste like used cooking oils, agricultural residues, or landfills. Electrofuels, start with 2 main building blocks: hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Like anything, they need to be properly done (not impact important resources) and achieve what they set out to do. Read more....


The French government is looking at investing 2 billion euros to double bike lanes and expand cycling, through education (training 800,000 youngsters how to ride). Possibly changing some road rules to the advantage of riders. But also create a bicycle manufacturing industry in France that could produce over a million bikes annually. All this is to get people out of their cars and do those trips, especially that are less than 5 km. Read more....


What to do with potentially toxic waste from plasterboard used in construction? Turn it into a valuable gardening resource. Plasterboard waste, when sent to landfills, can release harmful gases. However, a New Zealand company has developed a process to convert this waste into gypsum, which can be used as a soil conditioner and fertiliser. This process reduces waste and prevents the release of harmful substances. There is also the potential for this technology to be scaled up globally, addressing waste management challenges and promoting sustainable gardening practices. Read more....


Climate Cardinals, a group that has been translating climate information to dozens of languages, is now using AI. The AI technology is used to translate climate information into different languages, aiming to bridge the language barrier and increase accessibility to climate resources worldwide. By leveraging AI, Climate Cardinals enables volunteers to translate climate materials at a pace they never could do before. There is great potential for this AI-powered initiative to democratise climate knowledge and empower communities to take action against climate change. Read more....




This week we have the following innovation articles we hope you find interesting:











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