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Posts by Ramon Arratia

How to regulate plastics

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I had a very inspiring meeting organised by Globe EU ( at the EU parliament, hosted by MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen.

Ocean Plastic20 million tonnes of plastics end up in landfill and 4 m tonnes in energy recovery  while only 7 million go for recycling. But only are recycled 4 million of those 7 and they are normally downcycled. It was great to learn all these figures from Suez, including that China imports 9m of plastics and that 50% of the UK plastics go to China.

The issue of plastics will grow exponentially and in emerging markets the growth is becoming mind-blowing.

I fully support the EU commission that we need to change paradigm and think about product design first (instead of waste policies like in the past). Product design related policies were at the heart of the EU’s End of Pipe emissions for vehicles strategy and it has worked. In fact, it worked so well that some car markers were cheating it.

Here are some thoughts for future policies:

Incentivise high recycled content in products with lower taxes e.g.. get exempt VAT for a while

Use of green public procurement to buy more products with high recycled content

Much more aggressive policies to end landfill and massively decrease WTE for many waste streams (the market would react and create technologies to recycle)

Standardisation of packaging waste with good practice and standard materials

Helping develop voluntary standards that incentivise recycled content eg. in the construction industry standards such as LEED or BREEAM favour recycled content

Tax carbon (recycled content has lower footprint than virgin)

Dedicate more research to understand what incentives and knowledge are needed for product manufacturers to design better dissasemblable products

Dedicate more research to understand what are current and future recycling technologies and how these link to market barriers for the processed waste streams

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Economic growth is decoupled from carbon again this year

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For second year running, the economy grew while decreasing its carbon footprint, according to analysis of preliminary data for 2015 released by the International Energy Agency (IAE).

CO%22 The two largest emitters, China and the United States, registered a decline in energy-related CO2 in 2015.

The emissions in China declined by 1,5%due to the restructuring of its industry towards less energy-intensive industries and the government’s efforts to decarbonize electricity generation, which pushed down the coal use. Therefore in 2015 in China less than 70% of the entry was coal generated, 10% less than in 2010. This energy was substituted by hydropower, solar and wind generated energy.

Meanwhile, in the United States the emissions declined by a 2% as a large switch from coal to natural gas use in electricity generation took place.

In OECD economies, recent efforts to promote more sustainable growth – including greater energy efficiency and more renewable energy – are producing the desired effect of decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions. In Europe theres is still a moderate increase.

This decline observed in the two major emitters was offset by the increasing emissions in most other Asian developing economies.

Finally, all those Economic ministers / Treasuries that thought this was imposible now they have their proof.

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Is energy storage the real killer?

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A new report from The Carbon Trust says energy storage could save £2.4bn every year in the UK electricity system if some market barriers are removed. Some of the key identified barriers are: policy risks, failure to recognize externality benefits to society, revenue cannibalisation risks, distorted markets price signals, among others.

The analysis, backed by UK department DECC, estimates that around £7bn could be saved annually if energy storage technologies are integrated effectively into the grid system.

Please see the full new report from the Carbon trust.

Recently, the US department for Energy announced good news about breakthrough energy storage technologies, especially for large scale storage.

Please see the full article from the Guardian

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European Business coalition are calling on EU leaders to act on the Paris Agreement on Climate policies.

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On Tuesday in Brussels a major coalition of top European businesses, trade unions and NGOs got together in an unprecedented gathering in Brussels to influence Heads of State and Ministers to act on the Paris Agreement and ensure that EU climate policies are coherent with its goals ahead of the 4 March Environment Council and the 17-18th March European Council .

After all the fanfare of Paris, not much has been going on. The EU should again take the leadership position and update our climate goals. The Chinese will surely do.

As a company we have seen how we could achieve a 98% carbon cuts with more than 50% efficiency gains and stay profitable. Why the EU as a whole could not?

We will hear the traditional business lobbies telling the old story again. Interface has proved their arguments wrong.

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Our yarn supplier Aquafil implements a symbiotic relationship with an Aquapark next door

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Our main supplier Aquafil has started a symbiotic project where their excess thermal energy in their Econyl plant in Slovenia is then used by an Aquapark nearby.

Regardless of how different the two businesses are, their location has permitted them to start an incredible project where the excess of thermal energy is transferred to Atlantis Aquapark to provide it’s 100% requirements of thermal energy.

This actually translates into an expected reduction of CO2 emissions on more than 2.000.000. This is the equivalent of 1100 cars driving 35km!

This is what happens when companies think differently and not selfishly. The great irony is that Aquafil uses excess warm water for their thermal needs from the electricity station nearby. Pass it on!

Read the full article here.

Atlantis & Aquafil

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16 built environment companies commit to Zero carbon buildings

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Proud that Interface is there pushing again the rest of the industry, along 15 other companies that have taken a new energy efficiency commitment today for the buildings supply chain, to help drive delivery of ‘nearly zero energy buildings’ (nZEB) for new build by 2020, and refurbished buildings by 2030.

The pledge includes:

  • Driving down energy intensity across corporate property estates;
  • Committing to the 2020 goals of nZEB for new buildings and further action on renovation by 2030 as well as transparently reporting on progress against this;
  • Collaborating across the supply chain to set sector specific targets and goals; and
  • Continuing to engage with policymakers on policy, progress, reporting and performance towards zero energy goals.

Press release




RSPB puts the final nail on the voluntary crap

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The RSPB has released a report researching that voluntary environmental schemes have performed very poorly. Donal McCarthy, who led the research, the largest assessment on this topic, found several findings including the following:

– Voluntary approaches, which were liked by the administrations because they are cheaper to manage, are not performing. 80% of them did perform poorly on one indicator or more.

– The majority of schemes had unambitious targets or failed to deliver.

– Many had low rate of private sector participation.

I’ve been arguing for a long time that the main solution is old school legislation (but done in a smarter way), focus on legislating at product level and play with tax and incentives.

Let’s end the voluntary crap now. David Cameron said once ‘cut the environmental crap’. The only thing that is crappy in the environmental movement is the belief that with voluntary action we will achieve progress.


edie talks to Nigel Stansfield about how #sustainability affects recruitment

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edie PR sustainability recruitmentIt’s obviously always great to see your efforts in the press and this piece from edie makes us proud. In this interview Nigel Stansfield talks to edie about how our stance on sustainability affects recruitment efforts.

“Most people wouldn’t think twice about working for a carpet tile company, but they’ll jump at the opportunity to work for a sustainability leader,” he said. “Particularly now the millennial workforce is coming in, and the generation after that, they’re trying to align personal beliefs with the beliefs of the company they work for.”

Stansfield said that the average service time for an Interface employee in the European business was approaching 15 years. The average time that people stay at any given company is around five years.

He added: “Using this Mission Zero journey we’ve been able to retain people, but we’ve also been able to attract a massive amount of talent into the business. That’s all the way across the business, not just in innovation and sustainability.

“We have sales people, operations guys, senior leaders, who leave good jobs elsewhere to come and work for us, and many of them cite the values and purpose of the business as a key reason for joining us.”

Nigel Stansfield – our chief innovation officer will be among the expert speakers at edie’s ninth annual Sustainability Leaders Forum which takes place on 19 November at the Hotel Russell in London.

Read the full article from edie here.

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Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace

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Should a ‘work’ place be any different from the other spaces people inhabit? The relationship between individuals and their environment can be a crucial determinant of how they feel, perform and interact with others. So, designing spaces that inspire, energize and support the people who use them is a global imperative. People’s connection to nature – biophilia– is an emergent field that can help organisations meet that challenge.

The Infographic – Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace:

Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace

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Make Your Pledge With The UK Green Building Council

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climate pledges hashtag

The upcoming climate negotiations (COP21) in Paris this December could be a vital turning point in the global battle against #climate change.

The UK Green Building Council is catalysing private sector action to help ensure a positive outcome from COP21 and encourage greenhouse gas emissions reductions at the pace and scale required in the built environment.

A pledge is simply a commitment which demonstrates the ambition of your business to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment. What will you do>? Make your pledge here.

The #ClimatePledges video is at UK-GBC Climate Pledges.

What is COP21?

COP – or the Conference of Parties – is an annual meeting of the 195 participating countries in the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC). This year’s COP is the 21st meeting, hence COP21, and will take place in Paris, France, from November 31 to December 11.

It will seek to finalise a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the legally binding agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol had 192 signatory countries, and ended in 2012, while the second commitment period, which only had the support of 37 countries, expires in 2020.

It is hoped that a new treaty agreed in Paris will include all major polluters and begin in 2020. It will be made up of voluntary emissions reductions targets called ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ (or INDCs), pledged by each country, that will collectively constitute sufficient emissions reductions to keep global temperature increase within 2 degrees Celsius. To date, more than 100 countries have submitted INDCs.

Buildings Day will be part of the official COP21 negotiations proceedings, and the Buildings Day Alliance – which includes WorldGBC – will respond to the outcome of COP21 and help create the global momentum and action required to transform the building sector.

For more information on the #ClimatePledges campaign, contact

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