Warwick University lake by: Nicholas Smale
contract to which constructors work to. We have clear targets set out and we’ve recently been doing a lot of refurbishment to improve the sustainability of our buildings.”
Together with Aston and Coventry University, they are also helping with the CABLED project; analysing data collected from the trials of electric cars.
Student initiatives: University of Birmingham Students at the University of Birmingham have shown dedication with an increase of members in their conservation society this year. The Birmingham University Conservation Volunteers (BUCV) work on green areas of Birmingham, such as Sandwell Nature Reserve and Sutton Park. Chairman of the society, Andrew Limm, said: “People in general do care about issues such as global warming, so although we don’t claim to save the world there are at least 10 people who turn up every week to help these areas of Birmingham.”
Sustainable construction: Aston University
Aston University wins again, demonstrating sustainable constructions at its best, as Victoria Johnsen explains: “When building and refurbishing properties on the University site, we have a sustainability
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Elsewhere, Warwick University, Coventry University, Birmingham City University and the University of Worcester are working to ensure their newer buildings meet the BREEAM standards in sustainable construction, meeting the new standards of sustainable design.
Continuous improvement: Coventry University Coventry University may not rank the highest in academic league tables, but when it comes to the Green League it’s a different story. Environmental Officer Elise Smithson explained: “The environment is up there with the core values for the University. We’re pleased to say we are involved in quite a few schemes, and we’re reviewing our environmental policy and planning future targets.” They have set an ambitious target of 50% recycling rate by the end of the 2010 – 2011 academic year. Elise added: “At the moment we’re at around 34%, but we’re actively implementing a recycling scheme to raise this figure.” Alongside recycling, the University are working on reducing their energy consumption. Elise said: “We’re currently running an 8% energy reduction scheme in buildings across the University. All buildings receive a monthly energy report to keep track of how much they’re using and what can be improved, and there’s a cash incentive prize for the building which does the best.”
Birmingham University sign by: ell brown
As issues concerning the environment and climate change are rising in the public agenda, it is hard to say for sure which universities are really committed to sustainable work, and which are attempting to improve their environmental status for commercial reasons. Amongst the eight universities Birmingham Recycled considered, only two – University College Birmingham and the University of Wolverhampton - had gained no national recognition for their environmental work and appeared to have done little to raise awareness for environmental issues, but Birmingham City University won no awards with Birmingham Recycled either. It is curious to see that the universities that do well in academic league tables often do not do so well when it comes to the green league. The People and Planet Green League, which ranks UK universities in order of environmental performance shows that Worcester is the only university in the region to receive a “first class honours” for environmental performance. The next Midlands University is Aston, closely followed by Coventry University but both Warwick and the University of Birmingham fall much further down the list. However the clear gold medal goes to Aston University, who appear to be trying its utmost to excel in all areas of environmental concern, making us proud to be from Birmingham. Perhaps the example set by some of the Universities leading the way in sustainable development will encourage those lagging behind to improve their policies in the future.
A week as a VEGAN
How challenging could it be? A
By Emma Williams
few months ago the concept of veganism was one that I was unfamiliar with and I could not quite grasp the reasons why anyone would chose to cut out foods that all my life I viewed as essential to peopleâ€™s diets. However with around 407 million vegans in the world today, this lifestyle choice is increasing in popularity and is certainly no passing fad. The path to my vegan challenge began when I attended a Vegan Christmas Fayre last year for Birmingham Recycled. When I reported back the Birmingham Recycled team, they agreed that veganism is a good idea in theory, but wondered how hard is it to actually have as a lifestyle? The group set me a personal task of going vegan for a week, sacrificing all foods and drinks which contain anything that originates from animals - and that includes more than I first thought! I must admit I had my reservations but the more I read up on the subject, the issues and the controversy surrounding it, the more determined I became to see it through the week.
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Selection of vegan fmaterials birminghamrecycled Issue 1
Below: Brown curry (Left) Homepride flour (right)
I am lucky enough to have an Organic shop located close to me, Down To Earth, which sells a variety of specialise cruelty-free, vegan food, where I picked up a selection of tofu, bean burgers, dairy-free milk and even some vegan chocolate ice cream! Then a trip to the local supermarket for a seclection of fruit and vegatables, chickpeas, rice and pitta breads and I was surprised to find that the total price of my purchases came to little more than a regular shop. The special ingredients that some vegan products including was the main reason for this.
The adjustment Once the week was underway, the affects of the vegan lifestyle were apparent almost immediately. On Monday I awoke, like every morning, desperate for my morning cup of tea. But of course, no milk allowed! I substituted my usual cow’s milk with rice milk – a poor substitute I must confess. For my future caffeine fixes I used soya milk instead, which was much better. It was with little things like this, choices everyone must find out for themselves, that I began to adjust to my vegan lifestyle.
The cooking One of the main things that I found during the challenge was the amount of meals that I had to cook from scratch. I cooked more new and varied meals that week than any other week in my life! No more could I turn to my favourite jar of Dolmio or Lloyd Grossman sauce to add to my pasta, as these products can often contain traces of milk, egg or other animal by-products. Instead I was going back to basics, using a base of chopped tomatoes for a number of my dishes sauces, and seasoning using a variety of vegetables and herbs. There is a lot to be said for creating your own sauces for dishes – it offers a lot more flexibility and control over your cooking.
The overall benefits
If I learnt anything from challenge, it’s that eating a vegan diet doesn’t have to be dull! Vegans include a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and spices in their diets which us humble omnivores don’t even know exist.
Living as a vegan seems to be the perfect healthy diet. By cutting out most fatty and processed foods and leaving yourself with the bare essentials – fruit, vegetables and other natural foods such as rice – you can’t really go wrong. I went from struggling to have my recommended ‘5 a day’ of varied fruit and vegetables to having about 8 a day!
A handy tip if you’re thinking of going vegan is to try cooking foods from around the world. I stepped beyong my usual cooking boundaries (of pasta, omelettes and ready meals!) and attempted a number of new dishes including Red Lentil Curry, Jamaican Rice and Peas and Stuffed Peppers. The Red Lentil Curry was even served up to my parents – one omnivore and one vegetarian – and was declared an all-round success by all.
A handy tip if you’re thinking of going vegan is to try cooking foods from around the world. I stepped beyong my usual cooking boundaries.
Eating out comes with it’s problems though. Even vegetarian dishes such as the “Five Bean Chilli” at Wetherspoons is off-limits as it contains butter. In fact, in most main stream pubs and resteraunts I found myself left with no more options than a side salad. Alcohol was a little easier – although I avoided most wines and beers in the pub, I could still drink most spirits and mixers, including my tipple of choice, Ameretto and Diet Pepsi. I must admit, I was also harboring a slightly more selfish reason for doing things the vegan way as well. I had hoped it would help me shift some weight – surely cutting out cheese, chocolate, burgers, crisps and wine for a week had to have some effect? And I did lose around two pounds throughout the week. However I did not seem to feel healthier in myself, like I had expected myself to but perhaps my expectations were too high. It is not a lifestyle that I will be adopting fully for practical reasons, however since my challenge I have been thinking of the implications of each meal and choosing the vegan option whereever I can.
The Earth – Farmed animals currently outnumber people by more than 3 to 1 and the raising of livestock takes up more than two thirds of agricultural land. Forests are even being destroyed just to provide land for grazing cattle and to grow crops to feed the animals. By becoming vegan you could cut down to using just one fifth of the amount of land used to sustain a typical West omnivourous diet. Animals – Laying hens are kept in cages so small they can’t even move their wings and after about a year of egg producing they are slaughtered – all to provide us with eggs! The conditions for cows producing milk are no better; as a cow only produces milk after giving birth, they are kept in a constant cycle of pregnancy and lactation. Male cows have an even worse time of it – with no chance of milk, they are often slaughtered at just a few days old. Global Warming – Livestock farming is responsible for around 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions – that’s even higher than transport! Switch to vegan and you will use substantially less energy than an omnivourous diet, therefore contributing less to air pollution, habitat destruction and global warming. Yourself – A vegan diet enables you to cut down on saturated fats found in cheese, milk and many processed products, whilst also increasing your intake of fibre and potassium found in fruit and vegetables. It can also improve your quality of life and reduce your chances of diseases such as heart disease, strokes and even cancer!
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n a n o g n i o g l l a e r ’ We lifestyle
ECO HOLIDAY Photo by: Waysbcn
Go green while you go brown this summer!
e endured snow, hail and rain for far too long but after much anticipation, the summer season is finally upon us. It is the peak time for holidays, as our thoughts turn to escaping the mundane humdrum of the nine-to-five in Birmingham for a week or two and exploring new and exotic places. But simply because we are forgetting our work and problems, this doesn’t mean people should forget to care for the environment. Eco holidays are on the rise, with numerous UK companies now endeavouring to provide their customers with the same amazing holiday experience, without the adverse affects. It is no longer a niche market reserved for purely specialist companies; eco travelling is spilling into the mainstream, leaving people with no excuse for not doing their bit.
What is an eco holiday?
There is some question over what exactly eco travelling is, but a widely accepted definition is provided by The International Ecotourism Society who describe eco tourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people”.
Why should I eco travel? Travel and tourism is the largest business sector in the world economy, but the adverse affects are rife. From transport issues to wildlife to the local people, there is plenty to take into consideration in order to minimise the impact of your summer holiday.
Carbon emissions We are all aware of the effects of motor travel on the environment, but air travel is one that too often slips under the radar of public agenda. In fact, air travel is currently one of the largest contributors of Co2
emissions, and is predicted to make up 10% of the UK’s total carbon dioxide output by 2020. Research by the Netherland Centre for Energy Conservation and Environmental Technology revealed that one long-haul return flight can produce more carbon dioxide per passenger than the average UK motorist in one year.
Environmental issues Any destination which builds a reputation as a holiday spot will inevitably start building more hotels, restaurants and attractions. Whilst this can have a positive affect on the local economy, it is to the detriment of the environment, as the more industrialised the area becomes, the higher the level of pollution, and excess waste from holiday-makers often causes problems for recycling.
Where do eco holidays offer? Whether you simply want to explore fresh pastures within the UK or experience a whole new culture abroad, there is a range of great destinations for green conscious travellers...
COUNTRYSIDE GETAWAYS AND ECO RETREATS
The Really Green Holiday Company is a multi award-winning company based in the Isle of Wight offering environmentally friendly camping facilities whilst not compromising on their guests’ comfort. They offer an extensive range of activities to take part in including waterskiing, golf, and yoga, and you can enjoy them knowing that the company is doing everything possible to keep carbon emissions and energy use as low as possible.
Eco travelling is no longer a niche market reserved for purely specialist companies.
An aspect often overlooked when planning summer holidays, but an important one nonetheless, is the wellbeing of the local people. Most eco travel agents aim to create an experience which benefits both the tourist and the host, by establishing partnerships uniting countries all over the world to ensure the local people get the economic and employment benefits that they should.
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Strattons Hotel offers a luxurious experience without the environment paying the price. This hotel, situated amongst the stunning countryside of the Brecks, is designed to minimise the energy it uses and the waste produced. It also boasts an award-winning restaurant serving organic and locally sourced produce. They even offer a 10% discount for those who arrive using public transport!
(Above) Lundy Island: Get lost in the wild in Devon
WORLD WIDE CULTURAL TOURS Lundy Island is a small granite outcrop, ten miles off the coast of Devon. As transport to Lundy Island is limited, the wildlife remains generally un-spoilt and Zanzibar Cultural Tours offer a wide variety of packages to suit all tastes, including historic sightseeing, boat trips and chances to explore local forests and villages. Their vision is to develop sustainable economic growth in Zanzibar whilst offering tourists the chance to experience all this exotic island has to offer.
Laguna negra glacial lake: observe the beauty of the spanish lake
Website: http://www.ecoculture-zanzibar.org Spanish Footsteps is a family run business providing walking holidays and tours aimed to give tourists a taste of the true culture, nature and history of Spain in an eco-friendly way. Based in Soria in Northern Spain, Spanish Footsteps offers you the chance to get away from the common industrialised seaside resorts and experience the heart of Spain, untouched by tourism.
Really green company: One of their eco bedrooms
WILDLIFE HOLIDAYS Website: http://www.lundyisland.co.uk/ Out of the Blue Holidays are organised by the Whale and Dolphin Preservation Society and offer people all over the world the opportunity to witness the whale and dolphin in their natural environment. A leading programme in responsible whale and dolphin watching and a share of the proceeds for every trip is put towards the Whale and Dolphin Preservation Society’s charity work.
Strattons hotel: one of their eco-friendly bedrooms
Website: http://www.oceansworldwide. co.uk/
Stratons facade: a perfect country get away. birminghamrecycled Issue 1
The International Ecotourism Society describe eco tourism as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well being of local people.
How can I travel to my eco-friendly destination?
Air Travel • Try the carbon offset scheme, used by many travel agents and organisations. • The money will be used to reduce the equivalent amount of Co2 in another part of the world, through environment sustainability projects. Trains • Taking the train rather than the plane to your holiday destination cuts carbon emissions by a whopping 90%. • The train uses up to 70% less energy and causes up to 85% less air pollution than a jet aircraft. Boats • Boats are currently one of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel. • Travelling by boats puts you in touch with the environment directly, and you can travel pretty much anywhere.
UP-NW Metra Outbound Train 713 by: thomas.merton
Photo by: inside story
Getting the city cycling
We all know the common phrase “it’s like riding a bike”, emphasising that nearly everyone has easily mastered the skill of cycling, but how many of us get on our bikes on a regular basis? We look at the reasons people are not cycling, which bikes are best for what you need your bike for, how to know the safest routes and what initiatives are in place to encourage more people to cycle.
Why aren’t we cycling?
The Council’s view
eports from Birmingham City Council show that the actual figure is low, in fact cycling accounts for less than 1% of trips in Birmingham. This statistic alone is worrying, but couple it with the fact that around 40% of trips in Birmingham are less than two miles in length, and it reveals an even more shocking state of affairs.
Project Leader for Cycling at Birmingham City Council Graham Leonard admitted: “I suppose people don’t find the centre pleasant for cycling, but it’s similar to a lot of big cities. It’s a tricky area to work in; there’s limited road space in the centre with high demand. However, general traffic speeds are quite low and if people have the right cycling training it certainly shouldn’t be beyond their capability to get around Birmingham City Centre by bike.”
Have we just become lazy, choosing to take the car for short journeys at the expense of our carbon footprint? Or is that Birmingham is not a most bike friendly place? Between 2003 and 2007 there were a whopping 1182 accidents involving cyclists on the roads of Birmingham and if you take a trip through Birmingham city centre and you will find that most roads appear to be designed without much thought for cyclists or pedestrians.
There are a number of schemes in the pipeline to encourage cycling, with Graham saying: “We are ensuring that the right infrastructure is provided, along with training and advice. We’re working closely with local schools, encouraging children to travel by bike and offering them training. We offer extensive advice on our website including a new Cycling and Walking map.
We’re currently working on an online cycling journey planner which should be up on the website this year.” Birmingham has also been selected as a SkyRide 2010 city, meaning the council will work in partnership with multi-million media corporation Sky to encourage cycling in Birmingham through events and activities. Graham said: “With the resources of Sky behind us, hopefully everyone in Birmingham will get to hear about it at some point. We’re excited about having such a big media company on board to help promote cycling in Birmingham.” You can find all the latest information and advice the council has to offer cyclists on the council’s website at www.birmingham.gov.uk/ cycling.
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“There are hazards on practically every road!” Journalist Dan Davies set up an online investigation into road cycling accidents and hazards. He explained how it came about: “Last Summer, I was commuting to a job at Fort Dunlop Business Park. Usually I’d cycle into town and then catch the free bus, but one day I cycled the whole way. It was hellishly hard and quite dangerous.”
Pushbikes: campaigning for Birmingham’s right to bike Pushbikes are an independent cycling group running in Birmingham for over 30 years. Whilst solely a campaign group, they also organise regular bike rides for members of the public. Secretary Graham Hankins explained: “We campaign to get more people cycling in Birmingham and for a better cycling network to enable people to cycle more easily throughout the city. My role is to get more adults cycling by giving them advice on how to get started. I give presentations at local community and leisure centres about cycling and it’s benefits.”
There are some great cycle routes through parks & It was his own arduous along canals in Birmingham journey to work that some of the road cycle inspired Dan to find out more. lanes are jokes. - Dan “I put a Freedom of Information request to the council Davies to find out how many cycling accidents had occurred in Birmingham, aiming to set up a Google Map with the results. “Through internet sources such as Help Me Investigate and Hashbrum I started an open consultation so I could speak to experts and community cycling groups. The response I got from them was great – I took a lot of suggestions on board.” The map Dan endeavoured to create is now available online, and details locations of accidents and potential cycling hazards in Birmingham, formed from a combination of information from Birmingham City Council and his own experience.
Recommendations from Birmingham City Cycles We spoke to Alister Macdonald, owner of city centre bike shop Birmingham City Cycles, to get some bike recommendations from an expert. The City Commute Bike – Alister recommended the Trecks 7.3 SX, saying: “It’s our most popular commuting bike and it’s great for urban fitness.” The Off-Road Bike – Alister suggests the Gary Fisher Kaitai. “This is one of our best selling bikes this year, and can handle more rugged terrain for those who bike in areas outside of the city centre.” The Green Bike – The innovative Trek District Single Speed bike is perfect for those who want to go easy on the oil. It runs using a carbon fibre belt drive instead of the traditional oil and chain. Alister said: “It’s ideal for a commute of 3-5 miles and needs zero maintenance.”
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Dan said: “Conclusions indicate that there are accident blackspots and hazards on practically every road. Although there are some great cycle routes through parks and along canals in Birmingham, some of the road cycle lanes, which are shared with buses, are jokes. The key is to keep your wits about you at all times.”
Overall, he seems positive about cycling in Birmingham. “There’s certainly more cyclists around in Birmingham than there used to be which is great to see. Hopefully the council will acknowledge this as well and provide for the rise in cyclists accordingly.” Graham says there are around 3000 people in Birmingham in the ‘near market’ for cycling; meaning those ones who are willing to cycle more, but never quite get round to it. The only way to discover for sure how comfortable you are cycling on Birmingham’s roads is to get your bike out and try for yourself. There are a number of groups and organisations passionate about Birmingham and looking for new members and joining may help your cycling ventures.
Dan Davies: Cycling enthusiast All bikes listed are available from Birmingham City Cycles and can be viewed at www.birminghamcitycycles.co.uk. You can find all the latest information and advice the council has to offer cyclists on the council’s website at www.birmingham.gov.uk/cycling. You can view Dan’s map online at www.dandavies23.com/2010/01/ birmingham-safe-cyclist-map. To find out more information on PushBikes, visit www.pushbikes.org.uk.
Photography by Claire Malone By Lucy Hird
What they do for Birmingham
From Kings Norton to the University of Birmingham to Moseley, our Farmer’s Markets benefit the community in many ways.
he last 200 years has seen Birmingham rise from being just a market town to being the fastestgrowing city of the 19th century, but the market element still thrives today in the form of Farmer’s Markets across the city. Farmer’s Markets emerged in this country around 1998 and were seen as a saviour to many struggling farmers who were experiencing difficult times. The concept of providing local produce to local people has been embraced in Birmingham, and is now incredibly successful. Despite facing a number of challenges over the years, including foot and mouth in 2001, the floods of 2007 and the current economic downturn to name a few – the markets have survived and have still continued to grow and benefit our community.
Farmers Market’s bring people in to shopping areas who wouldn’t normally come which promotes footfall and helps to directly support local shops. 24
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Below: locally produced products are a hit at the market
Above: The farmers market in action
Economic development The growth has helped bring life into towns and cities aiding regeneration and encouraging social interaction particularly between rural and urban communities. They stimulate local economic development by increasing employment, encouraging consumers to support local business and thus keeping the money within the local community. Duncan Ross, an organiser of the Kings Norton Farmer’s Market, says: “Farmer’s Markets bring people in to shopping areas who wouldn’t normally come, which promotes footfall and helps to directly support local shops. Our market has also directly helped the local economy by running the campaign that saved our local Post Office.”
Carbon footprint Farmers Market’s have the environmental benefit that they reduce food miles, being run by small-scale producers who are unable to produce the quantity required by the big supermarkets. Duncan says: “We did some research a few years ago that showed that a basket of food from our market was cheaper than the equivalent from our local supermarket, and represented 5000 fewer food miles.”
Education is important so people are able to make the right decisions on the food they eat, each market promotes the production and origin of their food and can be a source of information and inspiration on how to cook and prepare fresh ingredients. Farmers Market’s also encourage more environmental production practices, such as organic or pesticide free. Duncan says: “Farmer’s Markets foods are always fresh seasonality is a key part of the way we work - and our stallholders take care with the food they are producing. They have to, because they are selling it directly to the public! You can ask our traders about the welfare conditions of their hens or sheep, about how a pie was produced, or about any additives or other ingredients and they will know because they have to be involved in the process.”
A basket of food from our market was cheaper than the equivalent from our local supermarket. - Duncan Ross
Below: A stall with a range of products
The future For the market’s to continue to benefit Birmingham in the future, they may need support from the council. Duncan says: “Unfortunately there is no coordination of the Farmers Market’s in Birmingham by the City Council - they don’t promote them, and they impose conditions that vary wildly from area to area. This is a shame as this could be a great opportunity for the city to show its commitment to good local food.” There has been a rise in online virtual markets with the aim of bringing fresh produce to everyone, like those unable to attend the actual markets. Could these be a threat to Birmingham’s Farmer’s Markets?
To support local Farmers Market’s or for more information, visit: www.farmersmarkets.net/listBirmingham.htm. birminghamrecycled Issue 1
A spokesperson for Sketts, the company that operates the markets and special events, said: “The problem with online markets is that you lose the conversations taking place, we have some real characters and I think you would lose that personal touch the markets are famous for.”
Kiss me Cupcakes: ‘Made with Love’ lifestyle
When two young graduates decided to up sticks and travel the world over two years ago, they could never have guessed they’d find inspiration for a successful business venture whilst living in Sydney – cupcakes! Meet Mary Ashman and Dalvinder Cheema from West Bromwich, the proud owners of Birmingham’s most successful and eco-friendly cupcake business.
he two entrepreneurs decided to set up Kiss Me Cupcakes on returning from a year of travelling the world. Dalvinder said, “We were in Bali, the last stop in our trip round the world, and we were talking about what to do when we got back to the UK over breakfast. We tried to think – what would our dream job involve? And the answer was clear – cupcakes!” And so Kiss Me Cupcakes was born in July 2008, and since then it has been going from strength to strength, even managing to survive the hardest hitting recession in recent history. They currently produce around 500 cupcakes a week, retailing at the Art Lounge in the Mailbox and The Urban Coffee Company in the Jewellery quarter, as well as producing made-toorder cakes for special events.
Kiss me cupcakes do cakes for special events.
labels and businesses is FSC Certified. “We’re hoping to open a shop this year in the Jewellery Quarter,” Mary told me, “We want to really engage with the community more. Everything sold in the shop will be baked on site to reduce mileage and we hope to get recycled furniture from places such as Freecycle.” The business has already received national recognition, having been featured in the Guardian last year, and with many innovative developments in the pipeline for 2010, it seems the only way is up! Birmingham Recycled wishes them the best of luck for the future.
Gloucester but we’re constantly on the look out to source more products locally, we work with the seasons when creating cupcakes – for example in the season of English Coxs apples we produce apple and blueberry cupcakes. We recently went to a local fruit farm to handpick blueberries. When you know where your food has come from it’s more personal, we’re all about the personal touch – all our cakes are made with love! I think when it’s handmade and fresh it makes all the difference.”
We want to really engage with the community The business boasts a range of green cre- more. Everything sold in dentials. Mary the shop will be baked explained to me “All the on site to reduce produce we use is organic, mileage. such as Green and Blacks chocolate, and our ingredients is locally sourced where ever possible. At the moment we use eggs from Kidderminster and flour sourced from
On top of sourcing fresh food, the girls also recycle everything they can in the business, and all paper for
For more information visit: http://www.kissmecupcakes.co.uk
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g n i l c recy
Spotlight feature Creative Commons Flickr: by mr.smashy
By Katie Wood and Emma Williams
Want to know more? Visit www.birminghamrecycled.co.uk
new European directive has been introduced this year meaning that every shop that sells more than one pack of batteries a day will be forced to accept old batteries for recycling. Most of these stores are also expected to, and already have, set up an in-store collection point. Therefore, this edition we have decided to put battery recycling under the spotlight. Why is it important? If you throw batteries into your normal rubbish bin, the batteries are likely to end up in a landfill. Some of these household batteries contain chemicals like lead, mercury and cadmium. Once these batteries have been buried, they will start to break down and can leak the chemicals into the ground creating, potentially creating soil and water pollution that could be harmful to us humans as well as the surrounding environment. You will also be saving the planet’s resources, as some of the raw materials in batteries can be recovered and used to make other products.
Where can I do it? Whilst there is currently no door collection service for recycling batteries in Birmingham, the situation is improving and you can take your old batteries to a number of outlets, including most large supermarkets. You may or may not have noticed that battery recycling bins have been cropping up everywhere over the past few months – from supermarkets
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to offices, the issue of battery recycling is high on the agenda at the moment because of the new European law which came into place in February. If you’re doing your shop in Birmingham City Centre, you can take your old batteries along to either the Tesco Express located on Hurst Street or the Tesco Metro on New Street, where you can dispose of them in the Supermarkets’ battery bins. Alternatively, Sainsbury’s in Martineau Place also provides battery recycling facilities, or if you’re a bit further out, try the Asda in Perry Barr or Small Heath, where a spokesperson for the supermarket explained: “When the new policy came in, bins were sent to all the Asda stores, so recycling facilities are readily available to the public.” A spokesperson for Birmingham City Council said on the matter: “We welcome the suppliers of these batteries accepting responsibility for dealing with the consequential and inevitable waste product, but it would be better over all if the waste was avoided in the first place.”
What else can I do to help? There are solutions to the issue of batteries. The most simple is to just try to avoid using batteries where ever possible, by plugging electrical equipment into the mains instead. If this just isn’t possible, try to use rechargeable batteries, especially with a solar powered recharger. Birmingham City Council told Birmingham Recycled: “The capacity of re-chargeables has gone up greatly in recent years, and the price has tended to go down, so they’re better than ever.”
Other information Britain has to increase battery recycling from the current level of 2.8% per year to 25% by 2012 and 45% by 2016. Lead acid batteries (used for car batteries) and mercury button cell batteries (used in watches) are fully recycled in the United Kingdom. Lithium and alkaline batteries, (AA, AAA and 9v batteries) are part recycled in the United Kingdom and then sent abroad to finish the process.