A global economic value of US$6 trillion (£5 trillion) has been attributed to the mental health benefits of the natural environment, adding to the value arising from ecosystem services and tourism. Poor psychological health has an enormous economic cost, and positive mental health contributes to a stronger economy.
Protected natural areas are under increasing pressure from political and economic factors, and climate change. An Australian study has calculated the economic value of natural areas in terms of mental health.
Science for Environment Policy have produced a study focused on the impacts of the current car-centred urban lifestyle on public and environmental health. The study follows a Barcelona planning strategy, which shifts from being a car-centred model to people-centred city design. Restructuring this model to reduce motorised transport and reclaiming space for people, has many positive effects including improving air quality, promoting active lifestyles and improving public health.
From our own recent experiences of the UK COVID-19 lockdown, we have seen that the reduction in all forms of traffic had a significant improvement air quality, and the motivation to get out to exercise and enjoy the environment resulted in a running and cycling boom. Most of us can work effectively from home, mostly we do not need to travel great distances to attend meetings. This model can and should work.
Read more about the study here.
Packaging is a major constituent of almost all products, services and projects procured. In order to design out waste, and eliminate confusion over which packaging is reusable, recyclable or not, DS Smith (sustainable packaging leader) has conducted research which highlights the desperate need for clarity in the end of life treatment of packaging, and a result has launched new Circular Design Principles.
The Principles have been created to support companies with the innovative design of packaging to support reuse and recyclability, designing out waste and pollution, and provide clear labelling to keep recyclable material out of the general waste.
Read more from Circular Online here.
The COVID-19 global health crisis has highlighted the role of and problems with procurement of desperately required resources. NHS and other procurement professionals are working tirelessly to fill gaps.
Thoughts inevitably concentrate on the short term problems this pandemic brings; those suffering, their families and the amazing work of healthcare workers and other key workers. SPL has long established relationships with many NHS Trusts, Boards and suppliers and will continue to support them in many ways.
At the same time there is much debate regarding the need to learn from this – humanity does not have a good track record of learning from past mistakes but is extremely resourceful and the clamour for a more sustainable future is gathering pace.
We should always focus on outcomes.
For example, ask yourself:
Perhaps now is the time to reset relationships between procurement and commissioning, internal stakeholders, suppliers and intended users? We are seeing every day the benefits of collaboration, cooperation and what can be achieved in a very short time if the will is there.
Part of this supports the transition to a circular economy – not some nebulous concept but, from a procurement and supply perspective, a driver that can unlock many of the above outcomes and benefits. A recent article worth reading: Circle Economy.
5 years since the Modern Slavery Act (MSA) 2015, The UK Government’s Modern Slavery Statement was published on 26th March.
The MSA requires large businesses to report annually on their systems to prevent modern slavery in their operations and global supply chains. The UK Government's Statement assesses the risk of modern slavery, and details how they are working to eradicate modern slavery from their supply chains. This now paves the way for statements to be published from the rest of the public sector.
Read the full statement here.
Last week's new budget confirmed a plastic packaging tax of £200 per tonne, for manufacturers and importers of packaging made from less than 30% recycled plastic. The consequence should result in the use of recycled plastics in packaging increasing, reducing waste and carbon emissions. The rate and threshold level will be continually under review to ensure ongoing improvements.
Mayor of London's Office has released new data showing that the introduction of electric taxis and buses, the ultra-low emission zone and other air improvement interventions since 2016, has had a massive improvement in lowered nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution in London.
In 2016, London’s air quality monitoring stations detected over 4,000 hours of NO2 levels in breach of EU Ambient Air Quality Directive limits. In 2019 the breaches of the hourly limit fell by 97% to only 100, and only from Westminster.
Greater London has seen a 21% average reduction in NO2 concentrations between 2016 and 2019, with substantial falls recorded in low emission bus zones.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
“Toxic air is a national health crisis contributing to thousands of premature deaths every year. I have taken bold action in London with measures such as the world’s first ultra low emission zone and low emission bus zones, and it’s undeniable that these are making a difference to the air we breathe. We’re doing all we can in the capital, with proven results, so there are no excuses left for the government’s failure to match our levels of ambition.”
Read more here...
SPL are thrilled to have been working closely with NHS Trusts accross the UK on Sustainable Development Management Plans, Sustainable Procurement, Circular Economy and more. The NHS has now launched ‘For a greener NHS programme’, to work towards becoming carbon zero. View case studies and examples of recent work here.
The Circular Economy Task Force have produced “Plastic Promises”, a report highlighting that in the rush to reduce reliance on plastics, UK companies are in danger of swapping from plastic to other materials with new, and potentially greater, environmental consequences, including higher emissions.
The accelerating public pressure to reduce the reliance on single use plastics, has not been mirrored at the same rate with suitable leadership and guidance on tackling the issue responsibly.
Read the full report here.