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What is Sustainability Labels on Food Products

What is sustainability labels on food products ?

Carbon Footprint labels sustainable_food_labels_500

Sustainability labeling on food and drink products informs consumers about environmental and ethical issues related to food choice and consumption. The third party certification company confirms the legitimacy of claims made by food producers and distributors, thus ensuring that the food labels are meaningful.

Sustainability labels, also give consumers the opportunity to take into account environmental and ethical considerations when making food choices. Without such labels, taking into account such factors is still possible – for example, by preferring locally produced products because of a belief that transportation of food over long distances is not good for the environment – but rests on uncertain grounds and needs more indirect inferences from other product characteristics (like the origin of the food).

Making sustainability labels available on food products opens up new ways of making choices for consumes, and how motivation and understanding together impact on use of these labels.

Understanding of the concept of sustainability was limited, but understanding of four selected labels:

  1. Fair Trade Certified,
  2. Rain forest Alliance,
  3. Carbon Footprint,
  4. Food Alliance Certified.

Understanding of four sustainability labels on food products.

 acedbc1b3e020182f43133df2fc1620c  Fair-Trade-Certified-Logo-CMYK

 Carbon Footprint Trust – 100g CO2

 Fairtrade Certified

Minimising chemical emissions when producing goods Ensuring better prices. decent working conditions and good terms for producers

Reducing deforestation of the rain forest

Ensuring that no child labour is used in the production process
Using land and water as efficiently as possible to avoid environmental damage Working to achieve lower prices for consumers
Supporting the production of more local/regional goods Ensuring good prices and working conditions for retailers an
Improve packaging and recycling options Ensuring that the food produced is distributed in a fair way
eco_certified_rainforest_alliance FAtransparent

 Rainforest Alliance Certified

 Food Alliance Certified Producers

Promoting sustainable agriculture to help farmers, while protecting the local environment Provide safe and fair working conditions
Minimising (soil) contamination when producing food Practice integrated pest management to minimize pesticide us and toxicity
Protecting wildlife in the rain forest Conserve soil and water resources
Reducing the amount of packaging used Protect biodiversity and wildlife habitat
Using land and water as efficiently as possible to avoid environmental damage Promoting sustainable agriculture to help farmers. while protecting the local environment and continually improve practices

% of respondents selecting statement as correctly describing the label. Correct answers are in bold.

What is the benefit of Sustainability Labels on food products ?

Waste reduction, speedier processes, and longer-lasting consumables. All of this translates into lower operating costs, which we are able to pass on to our customers in the form of surprisingly competitive pricing.

What is Carbon Footprint trust ?

  • An all-digital, color-managed workflow has eliminated the need for costly & wasteful proofing systems.
  • Digitally imaged printing plates are developed in  “Chem-free” processor which uses only non-toxic processing fluids that have a longer lifespan than traditional, more toxic chemicals.
  • Computerized press controls deliver accurate color fast, minimizing make ready waste and allowing us to tightly monitor quality and consistency throughout the print run.
  • Digital print capabilities for short-run jobs allow us to print only the quantity needed. In addition to the best quality available, our HP Indigo press offers non-toxic, long-lifespan consumables and uses considerably less energy than competing technologies.
  • Computerized bindery equipmentreduces waste and minimizes errors
  • In-house mailingand close proximity to a USPS sorting facility eliminates unnecessary transit for mailing jobs.
  • Eco-friendly large format solutions from HP feature recyclable consumables and materials.
  • Sustainability graphic design label printing piece include:
    • Serves multiple purposes and maximizes shelf life
    • Raises awareness by displaying environmental specs
    • Limits ink coverage and areas of solid color
    • Is printed by a printer that has environmental certification
    • Uses recycled and/or FSC-certified paper that was processed chlorine-free
    • Uses soy- and vegetable-based inks and avoids metallic inks
    • Avoids foil stamping, thermography, and lamination
    • Uses up-to-date mailing lists that accurately target your audience
  • Full Color Offset Ink

    100% Vegetable-Based Inks.

    Rather than use a traditional, cheaper, petroleum base, Jakprints uses soy- and vegetable-based inks. Our ink contains more than 30% vegetable oil and a minimum of 55% bio-derived, renewable and sustainable raw materials. It is formulated without petroleum ink solvent and has extremely low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making it an environmentally friendly choice.

    Water-based, aqueous coatings make our offset products 100% biodegradable.

    Paper

    We recycle all paper trimmings, unused paper products and press runs that do  not meet our high quality standards.

    Our warehouse papers and boxes are warehoused by the truckload, reducing semi-truck deliveries significantly.

    Printing

    Reduce landfill waste, use distribute ink to presses.

    100% recyclable aluminum plates from our offset press are collected and recycled monthly.

     

    Shipping & Packaging

    Whenever possible, vendor boxes are reused in order to minimize the need for new boxes in our apparel division.

    All branded and unbranded shipping boxes are produced with at least 90% recycled material. Any virgin content is from Responsibly Forestedsources.

    Responsibly Forested Paper

    All papers are sourced from well-managed forests certified by one of the three major organizations who follow the trees, pulp and paper through the entire chain of custody.

What is Fair Trade Certified

Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers, and enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives. (AWA)

What is Food Alliance Certified ?

Food Alliance provides a sustainability standard for food handling operations – including packers, processors, and distributors.

Food Alliance is the most experienced sustainable agriculture certifier in the United States – with two decades of experience developing and maintaining comprehensive sustainability standards and criteria for a wide range of agricultural products, including fruits, vegetables, grains, livestock, eggs, dairy, shellfish, mushrooms, grains, legumes, horticultural products, and prepared food products made with Food Alliance Certified ingredients.

Food Alliance Certified Handlers:

  • handlersealProvide safe and fair working conditions
  • Reduce use of toxic and hazardous materials
  • Reduce and recycle waste
  • Conserve energy and water
  • Ensure quality control and safety
  • Continually improve practices
  • Pack, prepare, and/or distribute Food Alliance Certified products

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Strategies aiming to reduce the use of chemical pesticides through careful monitoring for actual pest threats. Pesticides are applied in ways to pose the least possible hazard, and are used as a last resort when other controls are found inadequate. (FMC)

Irradiation

Food irradiation is the process of exposing food to radiant energy in order to reduce or eliminate bacteria, therefore making it more resistant to spoilage. Food is most often irradiated commercially to reduce the numbers of pathogenic microorganisms, to extend shelf-life, or to eliminate insect pests. Food that has been irradiated must either have “irradiated” as part of the product name or be labeled with the claim “treated with irradiation” or “treated with radiation” and also display the Radura symbol. The FDA requires labeling on whole irradiated fruits and vegetables. However, the FDA does not require the “treated with irradiation” label on processed foods made with irradiated ingredients or on spices.  The USDA’s rules regarding labeling of irradiated foods are similar to the FDA’s regulations, but only apply to meat and poultry. However, unlike the FDA, the USDA requires that irradiated meat ingredients in multi-ingredient products, such as sausages, must be listed in the ingredients on the package. (AWA)

Pesticide free/no spray

Implies that no pesticide residue can be found on the crop. It does not address if pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides were applied at other points in production. No independent third party verification. (AWA)

Alt-fuel-main_944x320

United Airline Uses Biofuel for Regular Flights from LAX to SFO

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Bringing biofuels to LAX

United is making history by bringing commercial-scale, low-carbon, renewable jet fuel to our Los Angeles hub, in partnership with AltAir Fuels and Honeywell UOP. Using technology from Honeywell UOP, AltAir retrofitted a largely idled refinery in Paramount, California, into an advanced biofuel facility that produces 30 million gallons per year. This has brought new clean-energy jobs to the area.

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The AltAir facility converts feedstock, such as agricultural wastes, and non-edible natural oils into low-carbon advanced biofuels. The renewable jet fuel is expected to provide more than a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis when compared to traditional jet fuel.

UAL has collaborated with AltAir since 2009, with a shared goal of bringing an ongoing source of sustainable aviation biofuels to an airport. United has agreed to buy up to 15 million gallons of low-carbon, renewable jet fuel over a three-year period, with the potential to purchase more. As the first commercial-scale purchase of alternative jet fuels by a U.S. airline that incorporates biofuels into regular operations, this accomplishment represents a historic milestone for aviation.

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United Airline launches Sustainable Aviation Biofuel for Regular flights with B

A United Airlines eco-skies jet. United Airlines on Friday began sing commercial-scale volumes of sustainable aviation biofuel for regularly scheduled.

United Airlines is now using sustainable aviation biofuels on regular commercial flights from Los Angeles to San Francisco. This makes United one of the first U.S. airlines committed tocommercial-scale volumes of biofuel beyond demonstration and test flights. Stored and delivered in the same way as traditional aviation fuel, the bio-blend features 30% renewable jet fuel and 70% conventional jet kerosene.

United Airlines announced on Friday that it plans to power thousands of commercial flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco with biofuel created from farm waste like animal fats and oils.

Sustainable Aviation Biofuel

Sustainable Aviation Biofuel

While a handful of airlines have flown individual flights using a variety of types of biofuels, this is among the first times that an airline is committing to power a large number of commercial flights. If all goes well, a biofuel blend is supposed to be used for all of United’s jet fuel supply at Los Angeles International Airport.

United is using the biofuel from AltAir Fuels to replace 30% of its petroleum-based fuel for the L.A. flights over the next couple of weeks. This morning a flight took off from Los Angeles to San Francisco powered by the biofuel. Fulcrum Bioenergy isn’t supposed to produce its biofuel commercially for United until 2018.

AltAir’s Paramount, California-based refinery converts sustainable feedstocks, like non-edible natural oils and agricultural wastes, into low-carbon, renewable jet fuel. This biofuel is price-competitive with traditional, petroleum-based jet fuel, but achieves a greater than 60 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions on a life cycle basis when compared to traditional jet fuel.

What are sustainable aviation biofuels?

The difference is in the source material, or feedstock. Whereas conventional jet fuel is derived from crude oil, sustainable aviation biofuels can be derived from sources like non-edible natural oils and agricultural wastes. The AltAir facility converts this feedstock into sustainably produced jet fuel that is expected to provide a greater than 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis compared to fuel produced from crude oil. The fuel will be blended at 30 percent biofuel and 70 percent traditional fuel, and will be certified to the same performance standard as traditional jet fuel (ASTM Standard D-1655). The Federal Aviation Administration has deemed this fuel as acceptable for use on aircraft, provided it meets ASTM specifications. AltAir is pursuing certification under the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) – a global sustainability standard and certification system that recognizes biomass and biofuel producers that adhere to strict social responsibility and environmental criteria.

Fulcrum BioEnergy system:

This biofuel is produced through an innovative, clean and efficient thermochemical process, and it has a greater than 80 percent reduction in lifecycle carbon emissions compared to conventional jet fuel. Fulcrum will reduce our carbon footprint, divert waste from landfills and create new jobs at the Fulcrum facilities located in the communities.

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From trash to take off

Instead of household waste going to a landfill, it will now be delivered to a Fulcrum facility and converted into sustanable aviation biofuel.

  1. Trash is collected and delivered to a Fulcrum facility…
  2. where it is processed and converted into sustainable aviation biofuel.
  3. The drop-in fuel meets United’s technical requirements.
  4. Fulcrum’s fuel is 80% less carbon intensive than traditional fuel on a life cycle basis.
  1. Clean
  2. Scalable
  3. Efficient
  4. Reliable
Total trash placed in U.S. landfills in one year
=
Energy equivalent of 10 billion gallons of oil (3 times United’s total annual fuel use)
The average American produces nearly 1 ton of garbage a year
=
That’s 65 gallons of biofuels processed by Fulcrum
Airbus A 350 Carbon Fiber

Dream becomes reality – Carbon fibre planes: Lighter and stronger as A 350

How carbon fibre technology is allowing engineers to make lighter and … A350 XWB has both its fuselage and wings made of carbon fibre.

When it comes to airliners, weight is money. The heavier a plane is, the more fuel it takes to drive it through the air. The more fuel it takes, the more it costs. The drive to increase fuel efficiency and improve the aerodynamic performance of new aircraft is leading designers to move away from using aluminium in airframes.

The new model is named A350 XWB with so much improvements. The objective is to minimize the groggy feeling of traveling halfway around the world. It has a system of LED lights inside the cabin which change color to mimic the Sun’s natural glow, at the same time, they’re designed to fit in with our bodies’ natural circadian rhythms whatever time it is.

Airbus 350 Carbon Fiber

Airbus 350 Carbon Fiber

Airbus 350 Design Lighter and Stronger

Airbus 350 Design Lighter and Stronger

It also comes with an air filtering system that refreshes the air inside the cabin every 2-3 minutes. And aside from the anti-jetlag features, and keeps it pressurised at the equivalent of an altitude of 1,828.8 metres (6,000 feet). Airbus says this should improve comfort for passengers and minimize the effects of jetlag once they step back onto the ground. In terms of passenger comfort, the economy seats are a little wider and a little further apart, and it’s easier to get down the aisles. The interior design of the cabin can be adapted by individual airlines, depending on how they want to make use of the space (and how many business class passengers they’re expecting).

Its body is made of up to 50% carbon fibre-reinforced plastic. This technology enables to get a more lightweight and efficient aircraft, minimizing cost on fuel.

The larger and wider wings, with flaps that follow the flight path direction rather than wind, create a 25% improvement in the plane’s fuel economy over comparable models currently in use. Each kilogramme cut means a saving of roughly $1m (£603,000) in costs over the lifetime of an aircraft – and the use of such composites can reduce the weight of an aircraft by up to 20%. The result is an airframe comprising nearly half carbon fiber reinforced plastic and other composites. This approach offers weight savings on average of 20 percent compared to more conventional aluminum designs.

Qatar Airways will be one of the first airlines to introduce and A350 model to its fleet, and other liners will follow.

http://www.ubergizmo.com/2015/12/airbus-qatar-airways-carbon-fiber-plane/

Sustainable Economy

What Is ‘Hydricity’ and Why Are Green-Energy Experts Excited About It?

What Is ‘Hydricity’ and Why Are Green-Energy Experts Excited About It?

Researchers are proposing a new “hydricity” concept aimed at creating a sustainable economy by not only generating electricity with solar energy but also producing and storing hydrogen from superheated water for round-the-clock power production.
Sun energy can be harnessed using two ways. The first one is by means of photovoltaic cells, or those commonly found in rooftops. The second way is by means of solar thermal plants, which concentrates Sun’s rays to heat water and use the steam to drive turbines and produce electricity. The latter method requires lots of solar spectrum, and is less efficient. It can only work using direct sunlight, and once the Sun is out, there’s nothing you can do about it.
The work of academics from Purdue University, in Indiana, and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, a research university in Switzerland describe the creation of an integrated system in which solar panels concentrate the sun’s energy to superheat water, which would power a series of electricity-generating turbines as well as reactors that split the H20 into oxygen and hydrogen, the later of which would be stored for subsequent use.
 
The overall sun-to-electricity efficiency of the hydricity process, averaged over a 24-h cycle, is shown to approach ∼35%, which is nearly the efficiency attained by using the best multijunction photovoltaic cells along with batteries. And a potential breakthrough solution for continuous and efficient power supply and also an exciting opportunity to envision and create a sustainable economy to meet all the human needs—namely, food, chemicals, transportation, heating, and electricity.

So hydricity can take over on this process. Combining solar thermal power plants with hydrogen fuel production facilities, it can be maximize to produce electricity round the clock. Using an integrated system, it can both use steam for generating immediate electricity, and hydrogen for later use.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Is Reached, but Faces Scrutiny in Congress

 

The controversial Trans Pacific Partnership will encompass 40 per cent of the global economy but critics are concerned about just how good a deal it is for Australia.

 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the biggest trade agreement in history, reducing tariffs and other forms of protectionism in a dozen countries making up about 40 percent of the global economy with economic output of almost $30 Trillion. “There are winners and losers but overwhelmingly this will drive enormous job growth and create all sorts of wonderful opportunities,”. TPP-map-nn

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was clinched in the US city of Atlanta overnight after days of marathon talks and could influence everything from the price of cheese to the cost of cancer treatments.

On October 4, 2015, Ministers of the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries – Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam – announced conclusion of their negotiations.  The result is a high-standard, ambitious, comprehensive, and balanced agreement that will promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in our countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.  We envision conclusion of this agreement, with its new and high standards for trade and investment in the Asia Pacific, as an important step toward our ultimate goal of open trade and regional integration across the region.

The agreement must still be ratified by lawmakers in the TPP nations before it can take effect and President Barack Obama is likely to face a fight to secure passage by the U.S. Congress.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-06/tpp-creates-worlds-largest-free-trade-area-and/6832274

 

KEY FEATURES

Five defining features make the Trans-Pacific Partnership a landmark 21st-century agreement, setting a new standard for global trade while taking up next-generation issues.  These features include:

  • Comprehensive market access.  The TPP eliminates or reduces tariff and non-tariff barriers across substantially all trade in goods and services and covers the full spectrum of trade, including goods and services trade and investment, so as to create new opportunities and benefits for our businesses, workers, and consumers.
  • Regional approach to commitments.   The TPP facilitates the development of production and supply chains, and seamless trade, enhancing efficiency and supporting our goal of creating and supporting jobs, raising living standards, enhancing conservation efforts, and facilitating cross-border integration, as well as opening domestic markets.
  • Addressing new trade challenges.  The TPP promotes innovation, productivity, and competitiveness by addressing new issues, including the development of the digital economy, and the role of state-owned enterprises in the global economy.
  • Inclusive trade.  The TPP includes new elements that seek to ensure that economies at all levels of development and businesses of all sizes can benefit from trade.  It includes commitments to help small- and medium-sized businesses understand the Agreement, take advantage of its opportunities, and bring their unique challenges to the attention of the TPP governments.  It also includes specific commitments on development and trade capacity building, to ensure that all Parties are able to meet the commitments in the Agreement and take full advantage of its benefits.
  • Platform for regional integration.  The TPP is intended as a platform for regional economic integration and designed to include additional economies across the Asia-Pacific region.

 

The controversial deal covers 40 per cent of the global economy and involves 12 countries around the Pacific rim, including Australia and the United States.

Under the deal, 98 per cent of tariffs across TPP countries will be slashed on products including beef, dairy, wine, sugar, rice, horticulture, seafood, manufactured products, resources and energy.

The Greens are critical of the secrecy surrounding the deal, skeptical about the economic benefits and worried Australia could be sued under investor-state dispute settlement provisions.

In the US, the deal is seen as a legacy-defining achievement for president Barack Obama but it still has to be ratified by a sceptical and often hostile Congress.

Mr Obama said the deal “levelled the playing field” for farmers and manufacturers.

Last year, about a third of Australian exports – worth $109 billion – went to TPP countries.

The Australian Government also has to convince parliament to back the agreement, Labor is seeking a briefing about the closely held detail of the deal.

“There are winners and losers but overwhelmingly this will drive enormous job growth and create all sorts of wonderful opportunities,” Trade Minister Andrew Robb said.

 

Australia’s two-way trade with TPP nations

  • Japan $70 billion
  • US $55 billion
  • NZ $22 billion
  • Singapore $21 billion
  • Malaysia $18 billion
  • Vietnam $9 billion
  • Canada $3.4 billion
  • Mexico $2.5 billion
  • Chile $1.2 billion
  • Brunei $1 billion
  • Peru $223 million

Source: DFAT

 

Australia:

* The deal will remove about A$9 billion of import taxes from Australian trade, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said
* Australia will gain access to the U.S. sugar market while Japan will
also reduce levies on the product and the cut in the beef tariff will help Australian ranchers
* Seafood and most horticulture products will see tariffs dropped, while preferential quota access will be created for grains, cereals and rice
* Australia and New Zealand successfully pressured the U.S. to compromise on the amount of time pharmaceutical companies would get protection for new biotech drugs, granting companies a minimum of five years rather than the 12 years of protection pushed by the U.S. That could lead to cheaper drug prices and more competition
* Reduced tariffs on everything from iron and steel products, to pharmaceuticals, machinery, paper and auto parts will help Australian manufacturers

China:

* The world’s second-biggest economy may be among the biggest losers as it failed to join the TPP, allowing the U.S. to tighten trade ties across the region and advance the Obama administration’s so-called pivot to Asia. After initially dismissing TPP, Chinese officials have now indicated some interest in possibly joining in the future
* “China has an open attitude towards system building that complies with WTO rules and is conducive to economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region, and hopes the agreement and other free trade arrangements in the region can be mutually beneficial, so that they can make contributions to trade, investment and economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
* Chinese exporters may lose some market share in the U.S. and Japan to developing countries such as Vietnam, according to Bloomberg economist Fielding Chen
* China will push its “one belt, one road” strategy of resurrecting trade routes from Asia to Europe and its new development bank and try to reach more free-trade deals with other countries, especially in Asia, Chen said. “While opening up its own door, China doesn’t want to see other countries are closing their doors,” Chen said.

Vietnam:

* Vietnam to be among the biggest winners, according to the Eurasia Group, with the agreement potentially boosting GDP by 11 percent by 2025, with exports growing 28 percent in the period as companies move factories to the low-wage country, the report said.
* Reduced import duties in the U.S. and Japan will benefit country’s apparel manufacturers, whose low labor costs have enabled them to grab business from China. Still, impact may be limited as Vietnam will still face strict rules-of-origin on materials.
* Fishing industry to benefit from elimination of import tax on shrimp, squid and tuna, now averaging 6.4%-7.2%
* Eliminating import taxes on pharmaceutical products from the current average of about 2.5% will lead to tougher competition between Vietnamese domestic companies and foreign companies. TPP will also increase patent protection, restricting Vietnam companies access to new products as well their ability to produce new drugs.

Japan:

*Japanese car and auto-parts makers may be the biggest winners, as they get cheaper access to the U.S., the industry’s biggest export market
* Japan was forced to reduce some of the protections granted to its rice farmers, creating a non-tariff import quota of one percent of its total consumption
* Livestock farmers may be harder hit as tariffs on beef will be cut to 9 percent over 16 years from 38.5 percent, while pork tariffs will also be slashed

New Zealand:

* Tariffs due to be eliminated on 93 percent of New Zealand’s trade with its TPP partners representing annual savings of about NZ$259 million ($168 million), Trade Minister Tim Groser said.
* The dairy industry, which accounts for about a quarter of exports, will see savings of about NZ$102 million a year. Some tariffs to remain in key markets such as the U.S., Japan, Canada and Mexico. Though New Zealand will get preferential access to new quotas, Canada only agreed to set foreign quotas for 3.3 percent of it dairy market over five years
* Tariffs on beef exports will be eliminated with the exception of Japan where they will drop to 9 percent from 38.5 percent, he said. Tariffs on all other exports including fruit, seafood, wine and sheep meat will be eliminated
* “While I am very disappointed that the deal falls far short of TPP’s original ambition to eliminate all tariffs, there will be some useful gains for New Zealand dairy exporters in key TPP markets such as the U.S., Canada and Japan,”  John Wilson, chairman of Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd., the world’s biggest dairy exporter, said in a statement.

Malaysia:

* Malaysia’s state-owned enterprises may suffer from the deal which calls for equal access to government procurement
* Electronics, chemical products, palm oil and rubber exporters are among beneficiaries. Malaysia is the world’s second-biggest palm oil producer and one of the biggest growers of rubber

water-dilema

Sustainable Water Infrastructure – Water and Waste Water Utilities

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Water Management

Waste Water

Sustainable water infrastructure is vital to providing the American public with clean and safe water and helping to ensure the environmental, economic, and social health of the nation’s communities. Water utility planning that leads to adoption of energy efficient operational practices and technology can save utilities money. Nationally, water and wastewater energy costs are often 30-40% of a municipality’s total energy bill. They are also often the largest controllable cost for these utilities.

Sustainable water infrastructure is critical to providing the American public with clean and safe water and to help ensure the social, environmental, and economic sustainability of the communities that water utilities serve. For the past several years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), working with states and utilities, has been undertaking a number of programs to help ensure the longterm sustainability of water infrastructure.

Water utilities typically have a long-term planning horizon and long-term infrastructure operation and maintenance commitments.

Utilities that effectively incorporate sustainability considerations into planning can expect to achieve a number of benefits, including:

  • Minimizing costs by optimizing investment choices, operating water and waste water systems more efficiently, and pursuing cost effective investment and management strategies, such as collaboration and partnering with neighboring systems to leverage resources and improve efficiency.
  • Maximizing results of investments to ensure a continuing source of water, treatment, and discharge capacity, as well as financing capability.
  • Improving the ability to analyze a range of alternatives, including (as appropriate) both traditional and non-traditional infrastructure alternatives, such as green infrastructure and/or decentralized systems, and selecting the option or mix of options that best meet the needs of the utility and the community it serves.
  • Engendering greater support for the utility by recognizing community values and sustainability priorities.
  • Ensuring that financial and revenue strategies are adequate to finance, operate, maintain, and replace essential infrastructure throughout its operational life, while appropriately considering the needs of disadvantaged households.

water_mtns2_small

Setting Objectives for Drinking Water Quality and Quantity

The quality and quantity of available water are sometimes not given sufficient attention in long term planning. Drinking water utilities should consider setting both near- and long-term water source quantity and quality objectives. For example, it is possible that the community’s water source might not meet its long term needs or the community may not be able to adequately address a source water contamination challenge—thus ultimately rendering the source unusable. Water utilities should work closely with their communities to determine water supply needs and demands in conjunction with land use planning and zoning for development (or redevelopment) while ensuring those plans are protective of the environment and the drinking water source(s). Planning processes to address these issues can include consideration of the following types of questions:

  1.  How much water is available from the water supply source(s)?
  2. What are the legal and regulatory implications for water withdrawals, while maintaining ecological flows?
  3. What are the water supply needs and demands of the community, including energy and industry, and projected growth?
  4. How much storage capacity is built-in to the water supply?
  5. Does the utility have back-up or alternative sources and interconnections with other water systems in case of extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods?
  6. Does the utility have a conservation plan in case of a water shortage?
  7. Is the water supply susceptible to saltwater intrusion from over-withdrawals of groundwater or climate change?
  8. Does the community’s land use plan and zoning include provisions for determining adequate water supply production, and protection of drinking water sources and environmentally sensitive areas?
  9. Does the water utility have a source water protection plan?
  10. Does the water supply have natural filters and barriers (e.g., riparian buffers, land conservation, and wellhead protection) in place to prevent pollution, or are there opportunities to implement them?