Archives for category: Waste

Councillor Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for Waste and Recycling, sent a message to Birmingham citizens to say that the pattern of industrial action changed on August 11. There are now three one-hour strikes each working day (7am-8am, then 10.30am-11.30am and finally 1.30pm-2.30pm):

“The travel time before and after each hour of industrial action along with crew breaks being taken at their depot – rather than out and about in the city – will have a significant impact on collections. In simple terms this will be much more than the three hours of strike action that Unite the union claim to be staging”.

She corrects the impression that there will be job losses and cuts to basic pay for workers that are affected by the removal of the “leading hand” role ( “one of the two supervisors we currently have – in a crew that is only a three-person team”).

Those supervisors will be offered other permanent roles within the council that their skills are broadly suited to, with training on offer to help ensure they could move into the jobs as easily as possible.

The plan being discussed with the unions is based on the best practice used by other councils. Under the new model, more than 200 new permanent employees will be recruited to collect rubbish and recycling from our streets. This will bring stability to the service and improve efficiency.

Many readers will welcome the determination to move away from an over-reliance on agency staff and other in-house moves taken – notably the reduced use of Capita services.

To read the full message go to: http://birminghamnewsroom.com/refuse-collections-an-open-letter-to-citizens/

 

 

 

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The sketchy reports on the dispute about the refuse collection changes on the BBC and Birmingham Mail websites have been supplemented by welcome information from Jacqui Kennedy, Corporate Director for Place.

She explained that this action is being taken because the council is facing significant financial challenges following six years of cuts to local government funding.

Taking refuse collection ‘in-house’ – dispensing with 200 expensive agency staff

Jacqui continued: “It is extremely important that we move away from relying on expensive agency staffAt the moment 200 out of 595 employees in refuse collection are hired from agencies. We intend to replace agency staff with up to 246 full-time staff employed directly by the council. All of these new permanent employees will enjoy the associated benefits that come with working for the council such as pension, holiday entitlement and sick pay”. The Mail adds that overtime will also go and the number of binmen will be increased by 152.

Agreement with the unions is sought as waste collection crews will be required to shift from a four day week of just over nine hours per day to a five day week of just over seven hours per day. Joint development of the detailed plans needed to make these proposals work is important.

Jacqui points out that over 40% of material in our bins is food waste. Last year, UK households wasted around 20% of all the food they buy – but there has been a 17% reduction since 2007, according to Food Waste Facts.

Visitors to this site come from many British regions and other countries – last week’s stats (right). A Gloucestershire reader recommends their food waste collection which began in 2016. Though some Birmingham gardeners already compost such material, other residents could make good use of a similar facility.

A Stroud newspaper recorded in 2016 that two weeks into the scheme 232 tonnes of food waste from 52,000 residents had already been collected – more than the weight of a blue whale.

Even the most careful householders have eggshells and orange peel to place in the small kitchen food waste bin provided – and the less careful dispose of ‘leftovers’ and unused, decaying food. These are emptied into a larger bin (right) kept outside. The bins are collected once a week and taken to an aerobic digester. In a few weeks it is turned into gas used in the grid and the residue is put on the fields as fertiliser.

“A great example of the renewable circular economy”, according to Green councillor Simon Pickering.

 

 

 

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Robert Kornreich (Kings Heath) recommended ‘The Third Plate’, a programme on BBC Radio 4: American Chef Dan Barber, who had early success as a ‘farm to table’ chef, is currently in the UK with a project called ‘WastED London’ – an unusual temporary restaurant taking aim at the problem of food ‘waste’.

Food is ‘Too Good To Waste’

The Priory Rooms is a busy meeting and conference venue in Bull Street, Birmingham city centre and in their latest newsletter, Joanna adds more information about their commitment to sustainable meetings.

As customers are provided with a substantial and varied catering, a huge amount of food passes through its kitchen but waste is avoided.

One of the ways they do this is by offering free, cardboard food boxes and paper bags, made of recycled or biodegradable materials. Customers can then take away leftover food to enjoy later – something they really appreciate.

Food waste is a serious national issue. For every meal eaten in a UK restaurant, nearly half a kilo of food is wasted – through preparation, spoilage and what’s left behind on the plate.

600,000 tonnes of food waste are being thrown out from restaurants every year, most of it filling up scarce landfill space. As well as the cost to the environment, this waste is costing restaurants and diners a fortune.

If this subject is of interest to other workplaces, more information is given here: www.toogood-towaste.co.uk

 

 

 

 

This news was sent by Aldo Mussi, Tutor-Activist in Health Promotion/Public Health, Public Health teaching team Birmingham City University. He writes:

“Climate change is not only a pressing public health, ecological and justice concern – it’s increasingly a financial worry. With fossils fuels increasingly seen as a liability, the shift by investors away from this old technology is growing”.

At the end of 2016 Arabella Advisors reported that 688 organizations ― including some charities, faith-based groups, universities and local governments ― and 58,399 individuals across 76 countries have committed to pulling their money out of oil, gas and coal companies.

In keeping with that trend, in November 2015 Aldo had welcomed reports that BCU was in the top 16 of British universities which had started ‘divesting’ from fossil fuels. (The top 10 were divesting completely, while the fund managers for BCU and others were merely fleeing tar sands & coal (the dirtiest fuels). Others have joined the trend since then, but BCU is still in the top 25% of universities who have made the move.

People & Planet (a national network of student eco-societies) publish a ‘green league table’ of British universities, and in the 2016 results, it’s good to see BCU placed 31 out of 150 institutions (top of the list of those awarded a ‘2.1’, but frustratingly just missing out on a ‘First’).

Birmingham City University People & Planet University League 2016 Scorecard:

1. Environmental Sustainability; Policy and Strategy 100

2. Human Resources for Sustainability 40

3. Environmental Auditing & Management Systems 100

4. Ethical Investment 0

5. Carbon Management 35

6. Workers Rights 15

7. Sustainable Food 60

8. Staff and Student Engagement 20

9. Education for Sustainable Development 35

10. Energy Sources 31

11. Waste and Recycling 76

12. Carbon Reduction 78

13. Water Reduction 50

Aldo comments, “A quick look at BCU’s scorecard (below) raises an obvious question: If we are at the forefront of divestment, why did we score a zero for ‘Ethical Investment’? It turns out that People & Planet’s criteria depend largely on being able to audit an institution’s published policies, including an Ethical Investment policy. BCU had not yet published one, so that counted against us. Interestingly, had it been published, our partial divestment would have counted for a score of 5% – possibly enough to push us up into a ‘First’ next time? It seems that BCU management may be addressing this in the near future, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to report even better news soon…”

 

 

 

milan food policy pact gatheringBirmingham is one of the C40 group of world cities which has agreed that unless the food system changes, there’s little hope of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. London’s footprint audit estimated that the food supply chain is the primary source and in March the Greater London Authority published a report on ten years’ of work done by the London Food Board and its partners to foster much needed change.

Last October, Distinctly Birmingham reported that Birmingham had become the 46th of 100 signatories of the Urban Food Policy Pact from all continents in Milan’s Palazzo Reale. The Pact was then presented to Ban-Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, in New York on World Food Day, October 16th.

The Birmingham delegation, which included the Director for Public Health for Birmingham City Council, Adrian Philips and the co-founder of the Harborne Food School, Shaleen Meelu, took part in several workshops and conferences aimed at addressing issues of sustainable food policy in urban environments.

milan 2 food policy pact gathering

Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy, City University London, writes that the new Pact seeks a greener, healthier, more equitable food system:

“This needs a strong political voice that engages with and listens to consumers, but is firm about the need for change. The social maldistribution of food on a gargantuan scale that we have today is unacceptable. We need food systems based on full cost pricing, not cheap food and overflowing hospitals and denuded nature”.

Cheap food leads to overflowing hospitals and denuded nature

He reported that many cities have been auditing how they are fed. They now recognise their food systems are in a delicate state, symptoms include:

  • high health and environmental impacts,
  • aspirations for cheap food, ‘hard-wired’ into consumer expectations,
  • rampant waste,
  • too many government concessions to giant food companies selling sugary, salty, fatty, ultra-processed food (we add: giant food companies = prospective party funders),
  • marketing budgets far higher than those allocated to food education and
  • no-one apparently in overall control.

Lang continues: “A new urban politics is emerging, gradually recognising the need to move beyond the neoliberal era’s commitment to cheap and plentiful food which has only spawned an horrendous new set of challenges which it cannot resolve. Many of these drop onto localities’ doorsteps.  Waste. The new food poor. Rising obesity. Street litter. Inequalities. Low waged food work. But the positive news about a sustainable future needs to be grasped. Closer foodways, better jobs, healthier populations”.

Commitments have been made:

  • to develop methods for auditing their food systems,
  • to prepare local sustainable dietary guidelines
  • and to share experimental findings.

Lang asks: Is it progress for cities to fill streets with endless food offers?

Can we let fast food joints surround schools like hyenas?

What powers are needed to recalibrate urban food culture for 2030?

Must we consign workforces to ill-health?

If national governments are content to leave it to Tesco et al to shovel out cheap food, shouldn’t cities step up to the challenge?

Lang: “It’s there that the consuming mass exists. It’s there the food labour is now greatest in rich countries. It’s there that developing mega cities have massive problems – water, sanitation, food, waste, inequalities”. He points out that Britain, as first industrial nation, knows only too well the consequences of severing people from the land: “We need another package. But which is it to be?”

Many readers will opt for this one: ‘more money getting from dependent urban consumers’ purses back to the primary producers’.

Professor Lang ends:

“The schisms between big companies and millions of small enterprises is a key City challenge. The latter create jobs and diversity. And how can cities help repair ecosystems on which humanity and food depend?

“The new pact seeks a greener, healthier, more equitable food system.  This needs a strong political voice that engages with and listens to consumers, but is firm about the need for change. The social maldistribution of food on a gargantuan scale that we have today is unacceptable. We need food systems based on full cost pricing, not cheap food and overflowing hospitals and denuded nature.

“All hail to Milan and the 100 Cities”.

 

So said one of Birmingham’s most active, well-informed and caring citizens last night.  For the environment and so much more . . .

barrow cadbury blog2 logoHe is referred to the Barrow Cadbury Trust’s Economic Justice Programme which is “keen to build learning to strengthen local economies and to share best practice between a range of sectors, but particularly across local authorities”.

barrow cadbury blog graphic3 KL

The economic and social references above do not even refer to the undeniable environmental benefits of vastly reduced transport of goods and to people in this area beset by premature deaths attributed to illegal levels of air pollution. To read the whole article go to the Barrow Cadbury Trust blog.

Localisation is a ‘solutions multiplier’ with political implications, reducing CO2 emissions, energy use and all kinds of waste, creating meaningful and secure employment and rebuilding the connections between people – and between people and their local environment by:

  • local trading, using local businesses, materials and supply chains,
  • linking local needs to local resources,
  • developing community and local capacity,
  • providing services tailored to meet local needs
  • and decentralising appropriate democratic and economic power

A few of the localising initiatives outlined:

Finance – where 7600 credit unions are outperforming the big banks. Business – where 30,000 small businesses in 130 American cities have formed alliances, some becoming part of larger networks, such as the Business Alliance for Local Living Alliances (BALLE). And food – where, in the ‘supermarket economy’, the farmer gets 10% of what we pay, or less, but gets 50% in the local food co-op and 100% in the farmers’ market.

In the vitally important but vastly neglected agriculture sector, studies have shown that ten times more food per acre is produced on small diversified farms and, by shortening the distance to the buyer, waste of food, refrigeration, preservatives, packaging, energy, irradiation and advertising is reduced or eliminated, the farmer earns more and the customer pays less.

the resilience imperative coverA co-founder of Localise West Midlands, Pat Conaty, makes the case for replacing the paradigm of limitless economic growth with a more decentralized, cooperative, steady-state economy in The Resilience Economy, which promotes:

  • Energy sufficiency
  • Local food systems
  • Low-cost financing
  • Affordable housing and land reform
  • Democratic ownership and sustainability

Karen Leach, co-ordinator of Localise West Midlands writes:

“This extreme vulnerability of the global economy to trade developments illustrates clearly the perils of an entirely globalised system that removes local economies’ resilience in meeting their own needs.”

As governments cut funding for basic needs while spending billions on global infrastructure for transport trade and weapons, caring and intelligent people worldwide are finding alternatives which promote economic prosperity, social harmony and environmental sustainability.

 

be heard logoThe major 25-year contract for the Tyseley incinerator is due to end in 2019 and the council is taking this opportunity to review the entire refuse and re-cycling service, save money and make major changes.  Councillors  will consider whether to introduce food waste recycling, look at community compost schemes and assess how much power can be generated from rubbish.

The survey advises: “The vision should embrace a circular economy and be founded on the pillars of sustainability and, if anything, be weighted towards environmental and social benefit rather than driven by economic gain”.

lwm loc 3 prosp graphicIt could well become part of a circular ‘localising prosperity’ economy (above)

A survey will be held to gauge opinions and views and a spokeswoman for the city council said: “We have had feedback that some of the questions are not clear so we will pause the consultation, make the questions clearer where appropriate and reissue.”

The forward-thinking survey, will be available on the council’s Be Heard website.

“The EU is our bulwark against tyranny”: Cameron

broken britain 3 mps bankers

Today’s headline in the Times will cause many to reflect on these words.

The EU is indeed an admittedly limited bulwark against government attempts:

  • to reduce good working conditions
  • to allow polluting industry to run rampant
  • to ignore pollution of air, water and beaches
  • to fill land with recyclable waste and
  • to engage in military aggression.,

cameron merkel                   attending the Matthiae dinner in Hamburg

In your Hamburg address, you referred to the Islamic threat, Mr Cameron: that is a self-inflicted backlash against the UK/US devastation of several Middle Eastern countries.