GALLERY: Top 10 sustainability stories in February

What were the biggest stories for sustainability professionals in February? Find out in our round-up which takes a look-back at the month in pictures.

In the newest instalment of top-10 round-up, edie has highlighted some of the news and features our readers were keen to read and share during the month of February. 

A month of green innovations sees wood-fibre beer bottles, sustainable footware and straw houses all feature in this month's gallery, alongside some major green policy announcements. 

1) Landlords to be banned from letting energy-inefficient homes

New rules forcing landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties were hailed as the 'most significant legislation in a generation' by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC).

By April 2018, landlords in England and Wales will be legally required to upgrade their leakiest properties to an energy efficiency rating of at least Band E, which could save tenants up to £880 a year on their heating bills.

2) 5 reasons Apple is becoming a sustainability leader

A flurry of green announcements saw Apple evolve from laggard to leader on the environmental front. And the tech giant has some interesting sustainability developments to come...

"The time for change is now," Apple's chief executive Tim Cook recently proclaimed. "We know at Apple that climate change is real. The time for talk has passed and the time for action is now. We're thrilled to continue on a course of doing things that make the world better than we found it."

And Cook's company is sticking to its word. New supply chain commitments, resource efficiency pledges and the development of the 'greenest building ever' have all helped the company defy critics of its sustainability credentials.

3) Government green-lights world's largest offshore wind farm

Energy Secretary Ed Davey gave the go-ahead for the giant Dogger Bank Creyke Beck offshore wind farm in the North Sea which is being hailed as one of the most significant infrastructure projects ever undertaken by the wind industry.

The Dogger Bank Creyke Beck A and B wind project is now the largest consented offshore wind project in the world. It will have a maximum capacity of 2400MW and will generate enough electricity to power almost two million homes once built.

4) Sainsbury's heats stores using fridges to slash energy consumption

Sainsbury's is pioneering the use of ground-source heating technology by collecting the warmth from the back of its refrigerators to heat up its stores - cutting energy use by more than 30%.

The new technology has already been installed at 30 Sainsbury's stores across the country and the retailer is currently working with heating specialist Geoscart and British Gas to expand the roll-out to at least another 70 of its sites.

5) These are not just shoes...These are M&S's new sustainable shoes

Rice husks, plastic bottles and coffee grounds are all being used in the manufacture of Marks and Spencer's first range of sustainable footwear - 'Footglove Earth'.

The new range, now available on the M&S website, is made from a variety of post-consumer waste. Half of the shoe's reinforcements are formed from recycled plastic bottles; 57% of the linings are made from coffee grounds; while the flexible sole consists of 35% natural rubber and 10% rice husks. Water-based adhesives requiring less water and energy to produce have also been used, rather than solvent or latex.

6) Carlsberg toasts circular economy with biodegradable beer bottles

Carlsberg launched a new cross-sector collaborative project to develop the world's first fully biodegradable wood-fibre beer bottle as part of its Carlsberg Circular Community (CCC) initiative.

The Danish brewing firm has initiated a three-year project with packaging company ecoXpac and enlisted therexpertise of Innovation Fund Denmark and the Technical University of Denmark to develop a biodegradable and bio-based bottle made from sustainably-sourced wood-fibre, to be known as the 'Green Fibre Bottle'.

7) Straw houses could unlock potential for ultra-low-carbon homes

Straw panels have been used to build seven eco-homes in Bristol in a first for a low-cost and fuel efficient building material which promises to reduce heating bills by 90% over that of brick-built housing.  The new Modcell factory-built straw panels, going on sale this week, have been developed with the University of Bath's department of architecture and civil engineering.

University of Bath professor Pete Walker said: "The construction sector must reduce its energy consumption by 50% and its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, so radical changes are needed to the way we approach house building.

8) Party leaders put planet above politics with new climate agreement

David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg made it a Valentine's Day to remember by signing a cross-party pledge to tackle climate change.

The agreement includes commitments to an internationally binding deal at Paris 2015, a promise to end unabated coal power generation and a pledge to agree a Carbon Budget in accordance with the Climate Change Act.

It follows the close of the first international climate summit of 2015, in Geneva, where delegates produced the first draft of a possible "Paris Agreement" which will be negotiated throughout the year, before being agreed in the French capital in December.

9) Green Alliance: Tech giants must embrace circular business models

An increased focus on recycling and repairing consumer electronics could cut the carbon footprint of each device by up to half, according to a new report from the Green Alliance.

The report - A circular economy for smart devices - reveals that the sector is getting more carbon-intensive over time; the carbon footprint of iPhones has quadrupled in the last five years. In total, the global mobile device industry generated more emissions than the whole of the UK's transport sector in 2013.

10) Product innovation still lacking among businesses, claims sustainability expert

For businesses battling the perfect storm of volatile raw material prices, international conflict and global warming, the best form of defence is attack and product innovation holds the key to prepare for an increasingly uncertain future.

That's the view of Chris Sherwin, head of sustainability at Seymourpowell, who believes company's "must adopt an innovation mind-set rather than arguing, disagreeing or trying to manage their way out of trouble", but fears "the penny still hasn't dropped for many".

Lucinda Dann



Waste & resource management
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