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Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles

Mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles

Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles.

The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug.

Belfast appoints Resilience Commissioner

Belfast City Council has appointed a new commissioner to help the city prepare for any scenario that might prevent it from functioning properly

The Commissioner for Resilience – the city’s first – will help build a comprehensive resilience strategy for Belfast, addressing major ‘shocks’ such as flooding, infrastructure failure and cyber–attack.

The new commissioner, Grainia Long, will also address ongoing ‘stresses’ such as fragile aspects of the city’s economy, economic exclusion, segregation, health inequalities and climate change.

The position will be funded for two years by a grant from the The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities global network.

Belfast is one of only five cities in the UK to have been selected from over 1,000 applicant cities to participate in the network.

We need to eat less and better meat and dairy say campaigners

A powerful alliance of 52 organisations have set out their stall for how to eat meat and dairy more sustainably. Eating Better and its partners including Friends of the Earth, Sustain, WWF and Compassion in World Farming have released a report which sets out how a ‘less and better’ approach to meat and dairy is better for people, animals and the environment.

The report, Principles for Eating Meat and Dairy More Sustainably: the 'less and better' approach is well-timed, as the UK Government is currently consulting on a post-Brexit food and farming strategy. Eating Better is calling on DEFRA to integrate a less and better approach to meat and dairy into its plans, and to do more to encourage and reward farmers adopting more sustainable and higher welfare animal farming methods. 

Training: Carbon Management

 SNI Training: Carbon Management

10:00 - 13:00 | 9th May 2018 | Parliament Buildings, Belfast

The latest in the series of highly successful SNI training events focussed on carbon managemnt, providing delegates from the public and voluntary sector with the tools and information needed for measuring and managing their organisation's carbon footprint.


SNI Event: EU Funding Project Ideas Lab

 EU Funding Ideas Lab

09:00 - 15:00 | 28th March 2018 | Belfast

This regional Project Ideas Lab, organised by Sustainable Northern Ireland in partnership with SEUPB, focused on promoting EU funding streams and identifying and developing sustainable development projects which may be elegible for EU funding. After hearing about various EU programme's priorities for funding and case studies of succesfully funded projects, participants were able to ask questions, network, find partners and identify project ideas. A range of sectors attended including universities, local government and central government departments and bodies.

Blog: What is the gender pay Gap in Northern Ireland?

By Michael Scholes & Aidan Stennet, via NI Assembly Research Matters

The GPG should not be confused with equal pay, which refers to paying men and women differently for doing the same work. This discriminatory practice was outlawed in the United Kingdom (UK) by the Equal Pay Act 1970.

There are a number of factors which lead to a GPG. Again, these are defined by the UK Government as:

The UK's first Energiesprong homes

A pioneering new pilot project in Nottingham aims to make select households ultra-low carbon and fit for the future by renovating them using the 'Energiesprong' techniques used in the Netherlands.

The Challenge

There is an ambition in the UK to ensure that all buildings are low or zero-carbon buildings by 2050. However, a study by the Association for the Conservation of Energy found that the UK is amongst the highest in Europe for fuel-poverty and has one of the most energy-inefficient housing stocks on the continent.

With more than 26,000 homes, Nottingham City Council believes it has a “commercial imperative” to find ways to retrofit existing houses to a near-zero emission standard in a way that is affordable and easily replicated for potential new builds.

Post-Brexit farm payments to be used to help the environment

Environment Secretary Michael Gove wants to end direct payments based on the amount of land farmed

Up to £150m in support payments could be shifted from the richest farmers to environmental schemes after Brexit, under government plans.

The UK Government has published a consultation on its plans for agriculture after the UK leaves the EU. The consultation entitled ‘Health and Harmony: The Future for Food, Farming and the Environment in a Green Brexit’ proposes that public money will no longer be given to farmers for the amount of land they own. Instead it will be allocated for the delivery of sustainable production, environmental enhancement, animal welfare and trialling new technologies to name a few. This will be a significant shift from the current EU funded Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) as DEFRA Secretary of State Michael Gove seeks fund contributions towards habitat management, flood protection and climate change mitigation.   

Ireland 2040: €22bn to turn State into low–carbon economy

The Government’s new national development plan envisages a radical overhaul of how the State tackles climate change, allocating €22 billion – one fifth of the entire budget – to a series of measures that will turn Ireland into a low–carbon economy by 2050.

The measures are primarily aimed at transport, agriculture and the built environment, and include a plan to stop burning coal to produce electricity at the ESB’s Moneypoint plant, the State’s single largest carbon emitter, by 2025.

On transport, there will be ban on the purchase of all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, a decade ahead of the UK, while there is also a target of having at least 500,000 electric vehicles – a third of the State’s private transport fleet – on the road by the same date. 

Starbucks trial 5p cup charge in bid to reduce plastic waste

Starbucks have started charging 5p for disposable coffee cups in 35 London stores as part of a three-month trial. Starbucks’ announcement comes weeks after MPs called for a general 25p latte levy on disposable coffee cups.

Starbucks has introduced a 5p charge for single-use cups in its central London locations in an attempt to help tackle a plastic waste epidemic plaguing the UK. 

Customers who bring their own mug will not have to pay the extra 5p in 35 Starbucks branches for the duration of the three-month trial which began in February 2018. If it’s successful the company may roll it out to other outlets, the Seattle-based coffee giant said.