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News in brief 27/05/16

Sustainable coffin crowdfunding to turn cemeteries into forests

Ashes to branches capsula mundi
Two Italian designers have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to develop a new burial method, which they say could see the cemeteries of the future turned into forests.

Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel have created Capsula Mundi, an egg-shaped pod made of biodegradable material, which is designed to be a sustainable alternative to the traditional wooden coffin. 

The coffin manufacturing process requires trees that have typically taked 10 to 40 years to mature before being cut down. The Capsula Mundi designers say the system has a lower environmental impact as its pods are made of biodegradable plastic material.

The burial system sees the body encased in the 110x80-centimetre pod in a foetal position (before or after rigor mortis) and the pod is placed vertically into the ground. The nutrients released into the ground via the decomposition of the body will fuel the development of a tree, which will be planted on top of the pod.

Trees planted will be mapped using a GPS system, allowing the ‘virtual memories’ of the deceased, such as pictures and videos, to be kept with the tree.

The goal of the campaign is to raise €60,000 (£45,700) by 1 July. If the goal amount is met, the designers will use the money to fund the manufacture of an industrial prototype and subsequent plastic moulds for Capsula Mundi pod production.

Launched yesterday (26 May), the project has already raised over €4,000 (£3,000) towards its goal.

More information on the project can be found on the Kickstarter website and more information on the environmental impacts of death can be found in Resource’s feature article.


Winnow named Guardian’s sustainable ‘Startup of the Year’ 2016

News in brief 27/05/16
Cleantech startup Winnow, the company behind the Winnow System smart meter, was yesterday (26 May) named ‘Startup of the Year’ 2016 at the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards. 

The company also won in the waste category of the awards, which were presented in London. Other sustainable award winners included SAB Miller, IKEA and Innocent.

The Winnow system is a set of digital scales, which is connected to the cloud through a tablet. It allows chefs to measure food waste and monitor where it is occurring, enabling them to reduce waste and increase their efficiency.

According to Winnow, one third of all food globally is wasted. It claims that ‘if food waste was a country it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the USA and China’.

Since launching in 2013, Winnow has been used in over 200 kitchens and is now popular in countries such as Singapore, Thailand, China and Vietnam. Winnow says it has so far saved nearly 1,000 tonnes of food from being wasted and is currently saving its customers £2.4 million a year in reduced food costs.

Last year, Resource Hot 100 winner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall carried out a pilot of the Winnow system in his River Cottage Canteen in Winchester, cutting food waste in the restaurant by a third in two months.

Marc Zornes, Co-founder and CEO of Winnow, said: “We have been working to solve the problem of food waste in the hospitality sector for three years and are delighted to have been presented with this award. This is a real milestone for our mission to fight food waste.”

More information about Winnow can be found on the company’s website.


New bioplastic bags with high renewable content available

The Novamont Group, a developer and producer of bio-based plastics, announced this week (24 May) that new ‘home-compostable’ fruit and vegetable bags containing a high renewable content are available for use in the EU.

The company produces Mater-Bi, a family of biodegradable and compostable plastics, which are now in the third and fourth generations of production, having been in development over the last 25 years.

The demand for bags that can be composted or disposed of with food waste is growing in Europe due to the introduction of restrictions on the use of ‘traditional’ plastics. Countries such as France have minimum renewable content regulations, which are gradually increasing.

Currently available Novamont bioplastics have a renewable content in excess of 30 per cent due to advances in the production of ‘green’ bio-chemical intermediates produced at the company’s Matrica biorefinery in Sardinia.

The newly-developed fourth generation Mater-Bi contains more than 50 per cent renewable material and will be available from September 2016, when production begins at the new Mater-Biotech plant in Bottrighe, Italy.

The company says the new Mater-Bi films are tear and breakage resistant, breathable and have maximum transparency. Blind tests of fruit and vegetable bags made from the new bioplastics are currently underway in several European supermarket chains.

More information about Novamont can be found on the company’s website.


SWWRF announces ‘coastal-themed’ 10th annual conference

The South West Waste Recycling Forum’s (SWWRF) 10th annual conference will be held at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy on 22 June.

The event will have a coastal theme and will include speakers from organisations such as Refill Bristol, Eunomia, Falkirk Council, Dorset Coast Forum, the Marine Conservation Society and Fishing for Litter amongst others.

The morning session will cover litter prevention measures and initiatives and will focus on those available for marine and coastal environments. Speakers in the afternoon will discuss the topic of three- and four-weekly residual collections and their effect on recycling and landfill.

The event is supported by organisations such as Newport Paper, Glasdon, Taylor Bins, Spedian, CIWM, ACE-UK and Collecteco, which will have trade stands present on the day.

Members of the SWWRF include local authorities, private organisations, waste partnerships and public authorities based in the South West with an interest in waste and recycling.

SWWRF Chairman Dave Moore said: “We have a packed agenda so there is something for everyone, whether their interests lie in waste and recycling or litter prevention. The forum itself offers a great opportunity to network with like-minded people in a relaxed and informal atmosphere and learn more about what is going on in the waste and recycling industry.”

More information can be found on the SWWRF website.