GALLERY: Top 10 sustainability stories in January 2015

Solar-powered planes, battery-powered trains and wonky parsnips feature among our gallery of the most-read stories for sustainability professionals in January.

Major international events and big business announcements made for a busy start to the year

Major international events and big business announcements made for a busy start to the year

In this first 2015 instalment of our monthly top-10 round-up, edie has highlighted some of the news and features our readers were keen to read and share during January.

It was a busy start to the year, with a number of eye-catching sustainability innovations grabbing the headlines, including a battery-powered train being launched by Network Rail; the route of the Solar Impulse 2 plane being unveiled; and Bill Gates drinking that glass of water made from human faeces.

There were also a few key announcements on fracking and an interesting report from WRAP which claimed the circular economy could create more than 200,000 jobs across the UK by 2030. 

Another big announcement this month came from edie... The speaker programme was confirmed and registration made live for a brand new, high-level conference at Sustainability Live - the UK's leading hub for energy and sustainability solutions for the business community. 

GALLERY: January's top 10 sustainability news stories

1) First round-the-world solar plane ready for take-off

The route of a plane that will fly around the world powered entirely by the sun without using a single drop of fuel has been revealed by its co-founders and pilots. 

The Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) will travel 35,000km over a period of five months, spending up to five days continuously in the air as it visits 12 locations. 

2) Network Rail trials Britain's first battery-powered train

The first battery-powered train to run on Britain's rail network in more than 50 years carried its first passengers this month. The modified Class 379 Electrostar train - also known as an Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit (IPEMU) - is part of a project to roll out a fleet of quieter, more efficient battery-powered trains.

The project, co-funded by the Department for Transport (DfT), contributes to Network Rail's commitment to improve sustainability, reduce its environmental impact and reduce the cost of running the railway by 20% over the next five years.

3) Asda launches 'wonky veg' range to tackle food waste

Asda is collaborating with TV chef Jamie Oliver to reduce food waste by selling a new range of misshapen fruit and vegetables at reduced prices. The initiative, called 'Beautiful on the Inside', will be trialled at five Asda stores, starting. 

The idea was reportedly born when farmers told Oliver on his Friday Night Feast TV show that a significant amount of fruit and veg isn't being sold as 'fresh' because it's 'wonky' or 'ugly'. 

4) PepsiCo defends Doritos' palm oil policy

Doritos parent company PepsiCo fired back at an environmental campaign which attacked the snack brand's 'destruction of rainforests' and 'unsustainable use of palm oil'. 

Launched by consumer group SumOfUs, the campaign features posters on UK buses and an online video backed by a 'five-figure ad-buy'. But PepsiCo has rubbished the anti-environment accusations, claiming they focus on fiction rather than fact. 

5) Supermarket food waste: Combined figures revealed for first time

The UK's seven major supermarkets contributed to just 1.3% of all food waste in 2013, according to new figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The figures combine data from Asda, the Co-operative Food, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose - making up 87.3% of the UK grocery market. They reveal that, of the estimated 15 million tonnes of food thrown away in the UK each year, 200,000 tonnes comes from these retailers, while more than half is generated in the home.  

6) Circular economy 'could create more than 200,000 jobs' in the UK

The development of a circular economy could create more than 200,000 jobs across the UK by 2030, according to a new study by WRAP and Green Alliance. 

According to the report entitled 'Employment and the circular economy: job creation in a more resource efficient Britain' developing the UK's resource efficiency can "make a valuable contribution to improving Britain's labour market situation" and help address regional imbalances in unemployment. 

7) Oil price crash: What it means for the renewables industry

On 20 June 2014, the price of crude oil stood at $115 a barrel. On 12 January 2015, the price had crashed to $48 a barrel, leading commentators - including Sir Richard Branson - to suggest clean energy will be damaged as suppliers abandon renewables in favour of cheap oil. 

However, industry analysts have responded that oil price fluctuations, at worst, will have a minimal effect on renewables and, at best, could benefit the industry, which is bigger and more resilient than ever before. 

8) Fracking u-turn: Banned in national parks, moratorium rejected

Fracking for shale gas will NOT be fast-tracked in the UK after the Government accepted Labour proposals to close a number of environmental loopholes in a spectacular last-minute u-turn. 

With thousands of anti-fracking protestors gathered outside Parliament on 26 January, ministers finally accepted proposals to ban fracking in national parks and impose new red tape on shale gas companies. Potential new sites, for example, will require one year of monitoring before fracking can begin. 

9) Bill Gates backs human waste to water project

A recent visit to 'a new kind of sewage treatment plant' saw Microsoft founder Bill Gates drink water procured from human waste, which the business magnate described as a 'delicious' and affordable way to improve sanitation in poor countries. 

The Omni-Processor, designed and built by Seattle engineering firm Janicki Bioenergy, burns human waste to produce water and electricity. 

10) edie launches Sustainability Live conference for 2015

The speaker programme has been confirmed and registration is live for a brand new, high-level conference at the UK's leading hub for energy and sustainability solutions for the business community. 

Sustainability Live 2015 returns to the NEC Birmingham on 21-23 April 2015, with a host of new features, networking events and a high-level conference - all with a focus on doing business better. 

For the first time, the three-day event has partnered with edie for the launch of the brand new Sustainability Live Conference, which will feature alongside the established NEMEX - The National Energy Managers Exhibition - and Energy Recovery - the exhibition for energy recovery technologies and services. 

Lucinda Dann



Energy efficiency & low-carbon
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