The European Union’s newest mining project focuses on urban areas throughout the continent. Their ProSUM project built a database of metals, chemicals, and materials brought into the EU market over the last ten plus years; the idea is that the produced goods can be “mined” again. It’s a really novel way to approach recycle by positioning the recycling process as a mining opportunity. To help companies and organizations understand the plentitude of materials available in existing products (most of which are in landfills or recycling centres) they launched a website the Urban Mine Platform.
The project outcomes are embedded in the European Commission’s (EC) Raw Materials Information System (RMIS) in order to create a more comprehensive and structured repository of knowledge related to primary and secondary sources consumed in the EU, relevant for many stakeholders:
Manufacturers can gain confidence about future recycled raw material supplies.
Recyclers will have better intelligence about the changes in product types and material content which impact on their business and provide future recovery potential.
The mining industry will have greater certainty about the quantities and types of materials needed in the marketplace, mitigating risk and improving profitability.
Policymakers will be better informed on raw material supplies, which affect jobs and financial institutions, and how materials are linked to energy consumption.
Researchers will have better data quantity, quality, completeness and reliability.
To some people space missions seem like a waste of resources, yet, thanks to many space missions we get scientific benefits. Launched by the European Union, the constellation of satirists known as Copernicus are constantly doing weather observations. Copernicus’ six families of satellites are scanning the planet to help understand climate change. It’s already been used in industry and what’s more is that the amount of data is free to researchers around the world.
“In the field of air quality, a few years ago, there was no way of taking into account raging fires in near-real-time,” says Dr. Vincent-Henri Peuch, Head of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), “Now, thanks to modelling and observing capabilities from ground to satellite, we can provide this information — and more importantly with a high degree of confidence.” They can also forecast European fire risk up to ten days ahead.
Such findings are not only vital in national and European environmental lawmaking; earth data-driven public initiatives can also fuel social and commercial gains.
The National Observatory of Athens developed a tourism app that draws from CAMS information — such as pollen, UV index and ozone levels. This makes it easy for visitors to plan ahead and then enjoy their stay in Greece enough to want to return.
Ten years ago when a bunch of bankers greatly damaged the economy the country of Ireland suffered quite a bit. The people of Ireland made the connection between influence on politicians from large corporations on poor public policy – thus they changed the rules on how the private sector can influence the public sector. The rues now put in place are appearing to rebuild trust in politicians, and the other countries are now looking at following Ireland’s lead.
The Irish reforms are simple. Any individual, company or NGO that seeks to directly or indirectly influence officials on a policy issue must list themselves on a public register and disclose any lobbying activity. The rules cover any meeting with high-level public officials, as well as letters, emails or tweets intended to influence policy.
For those in the business, the impact of the register and its requirements are primarily about the way the industry is perceived — and, broadly, they’re happy about it.
“I’ve not heard anybody suggest the Lobbying Act has impacted in any way the willingness or the ability to influence [policymakers],” said Conall McDevitt, CEO of Hume Brophy, one of Ireland’s largest lobbying firms. “It’s always better in our industry to have transparency, we’re all the stronger for it.”
Being a chicken who’s sole purpose is egg-laying can be hard because of the horrible living conditions. Too many animals, in this case chickens, are held in enclosures that don’t allow for movement. This is starting to change for chickens in Europe as they have now been granted better enclosures thanks to some ethical activists!
On the first day of 2012, keeping hens in such cages became illegal, in all 27 countries of the European Union. Hens can still be kept in cages, but they must have more space, and the cages must have nest boxes and a scratching post. Last month, members of the British Hen Welfare Trust provided a new home for a hen they named “Liberty”. She was, they said, among the last hens in Britain still living in the type of cages we had opposed.
In the early 1970s, when the modern animal-liberation movement began, no major organisation was campaigning against the battery cage. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the mother of all animal-protection organisations, had lost its early radicalism long before. It focused on isolated cases of abuse, and failed to challenge well-established ways of mistreating animals on farms or in laboratories. It took a concerted effort by the new animal radicals of the 1970s to stir the RSPCA from its complacency towards the battery cage and other forms of intensive animal rearing.