Issue 224  | 4 September 2017
World Going to Waste?
Above: A woman recycles plastic bags from a river near the Dondora dumpsite in Nairobi.

Nairobi, Kenya: The world is in shock. Not from seeing mountains of waste clogging its cities, polluting its waterways, cramming its oceans, killing sea life, endangering the health of humans and the environment at the same time. But shocked that Kenya - an economically disadvantaged African nation - is introducing the world's toughest law aimed at reducing plastic pollution.

Kenyans producing, selling or even using plastic bags will risk imprisonment of up to four years or fines of US$40,000 from Monday (4 September), according to the Guardian report. The east African nation joins more than 40 other countries that have banned, partly banned or taxed single use plastic bags, including China, France, Rwanda and Italy. Kenya's Minister for the Environment Judi Wakhungu faced criticism and skepticism at home and abroad. Manufacturers have said the ban will cost jobs, but she insisted more jobs will be created from making bags from environmentally friendly materials. See and hear the Aljazeera report.

Editor's Note: We devote a large part of this issue to WASTE - the good, the bad and the very ugly. It's a global issue and while some countries, cities and companies don't really want to talk about it, with more and more awareness being created, they don't have much choice. Not all will be as bold as Kenya, but let's hope that with excellent campaigns from Sky News in the UK, Ocean Recovery in Hong Kong, Plastic Free July/War on Waste in Australia and Zerowaste in Singapore, more will take notice and act. We present some stories of hope. Read on. - Ken Hickson
Singapore: Zerowaste SG - ably managed by Eugene Tay - in association with Government agencies, supermarkets and other businesses, launched BYO (Bring Your Own) campaign to get rid of single-use plastic. It's one of the city-state's biggest waste problems as last year Singapore generated 822,200 tonnes of plastic waste and only 7% was recycled. BYO runs from 1 September to 31 December. Go to:

London:   Sky Ocean Rescue's plastic whale has returned home after a UK nationwide tour to highlight the problem with single-use plastic. The 10m whale is made up of a quarter of a ton of plastic to represent the amount that enters the world's oceans every second. All part of Sky's Ocean Rescue campaign which has continued to draw attention to the problem, as well as provide solutions, for more than six months on television, in the UK and around the world. Go to Sky for more news and actions.
Singapore: Don't talk about waste but materials . That was the plea Laura Allen, co-founder of Gone Adventurin at the Circular Economy forum organised by MEM alumni at National University of Singapore. Described as "an action and advisory firm driving the Circular Economy in Asia, towards a World without Waste", Gone Adventurin is actively involved in practical programmes and advocacy in the region.

Hobart:   People Movements in Australia such as Plastic Free July and ABC TV's War On Waste encourage people to make better use of their home-brought containers. But should you be worried about food cross-contamination? Tom Ross, an associate professor in food microbiology at the University of Tasmania, said if good food-handling practices were observed, the risk was small.  Read the ABC Report here.
Singapore: GK Ong, a waste to energy expert, updated us on a technology startup with global impact, which plans to bring in a pre-production prototype to Singapore for field testing. At the seed funding phase, Uniflow Power (based in Perth, Australia) has developed this small scale distributed energy platform which turns waste, including wood, paper, coconut husks and even food waste, burns it to produce steam to drive a generator to produce 5kW electricity, steam and heat. For more information and enquiries, email:
Tokyo: Suntory's Takenobu Shiina, speaking at the Global Compact conference in Singapore, shared his company's commitment to sustainability, but admitted it was a big challenge to deal with plastic waste. Suntory has come up with lighter weight plastic water bottles, but the ultimate is to use plant-derived raw materials as an alternative to petroleum-derived plastic for drink bottles. It's work in progress. Read more on Suntory's journey.

Singapore: It has a world-renowned culinary culture, but the city-state can also harness its love for food to win the battle against food waste, says international food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart. He attracted a lot of attention on a recent visit - from Government agencies, the private sector and community organisations - as he has a track record of generating change in behaviour, regulations and practices in the UK and elsewhere. Here's the story.
If you missed this year's festive showing of very important films, go to the Festival Facebook pages to see what you missed. Photos and reports of the lively discussions too.
"Harvey, the storm that humans helped cause"
That was the headline in the New York Times to the story by David Leonhardt . He wrote:
"Even before the devastation from Harvey, southeastern Texas was enduring a year unlike any before.
The daily surface temperature of the Gulf of Mexico last winter  never dropped  below 73 degrees F (that's 22.7 C). You can probably guess how many previous times that had happened: Zero.
This sort of heat has a specific effect on storms: Warmer weather  causes heavier rainfall. Why? When the seas warm, more moisture  evaporates into the air, and when the air warms — which has also been happening in Texas — it can carry more moisture."
Postscript: The New York Times also reported (on 30 August):
Houston’s  perfect storm  is coming — and it’s not a matter of if but when,” journalists wrote, a year and a half ago . “Why isn’t Texas ready?” The story was a joint project of The Texas Tribune, an excellent local publication, and ProPublica, the deservedly well-regarded national group. Headlined “Hell and High Water,” it exposed the lack of preparedness, and downright denial, in Houston about flood damage. 
Houston Lesson for Asia's Coastal Cities
South Asia is experiencing its worst monsoonal flooding for ten years. See photos at left.To date 1400 lives have been lost and millions of people have been have been made homeless, with thousands of farms and businesses impacted.
 Nirmal Ghosh , US Bureau Chief for the Straits Times brought a few relevant points to light in his 3 September report. Here's two:
Houston's epic flood is triggering a new round of discussions on how coastal cities can adapt to the new threat of increasingly frequent extreme weather events. The lessons are especially relevant to densely populated coastal cities in Asia.
There are two things cities can do - build infrastructure that is resilient to climate and weather events, that might cost 5 or 10 per cent more which is pretty small compared to the risk; and use green infrastructure like water bodies and spillways to manage weather events. Here's the full report.
Focus on the Sustainability Imperative
The Singapore Institute of Directors puts Sustainability in the spotlight at this year's annual conference on 12 September at Suntec City. The flagship conference has grown to be a much-to-look-forward-to event for directors and corporate leaders to experience, learn and network on the latest megatrends and thinking to help their companies create value. The conference theme on the “Sustainability Imperative” will push the boundaries further than previous conferences have. The  Singapore Sustainability Reporting Awards  will also be presented at this conference.There will also be a Sustainability Showcase exhibition, involving many companies, including SASA, along with books for sale, including none other than "Race for Sustainability". Go to Singapore Institute of Directors to book your place.
International Green Buildings in Singapore 
12-14 September
International Green Building Conference 2017, themed “ Build Green: Be The Change ”, seeks to catalyse behavioural change at the individual, interpersonal and community levels. Chairman of the World Green Building Council Tai Lee Siang will feature in more than one session, along with a host of world authorities and local green building leaders. More on the IGBC here.  
Flirting with Dangerous Climate Change
Jeff Obbard, in Singapore recently to speak at a number of events, including the ASEAN Centre forum on Climate Change. He's agreed to be a contributor to ABC Carbon Express and here's the introduction to his recent article, based on his recent assessment of the state of affairs regards climate change impacts on South east Asia. A key conclusion:
Positive trends are emerging, but the scale and urgency to mitigate global GHG emissions going should not be underestimated. International policy must be galvanised and strengthened, despite the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, to ensure the transformation of the global energy mix continues - and accelerates.   Click on map on left to go to source.
3 x 3: Food Waste, Flood Prevention & Clean Energy Focus for Three Companies
French Food Waste Manager: As a global service provider impacting 75 million consumers daily and given its position in the food value chain, Sodexo plays a vital role in contributing to a food-waste-free world. A key part of its commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 is to reduce food waste from production to consumption. In Singapore, Sodexo works with United World College and NUS - among others - to reduce food waste. Read all about it.
Danish Water Experts: If Southeast Asia is to keep its head above water in the next few decades, it must take a proactive rather than reactive stance on flood control,   and work to reacquaint its people with nature, said experts at an event in Singapore last month. Most countries in the region are focused on adaption and mitigation rather than preventing the floods in the first place, noted Danish pump manufacturer Grundfos’ regional business director of water utility, Asia Pacific, Chee Meng Tan.  Read more in
Thai Energy Investor : BCPG is one of the largest solar power producers in Thailand, with a portfolio that includes 182MW of solar in Thailand and 236 MW in Japan. It plans to secure 1 GW (1,000 MW) of renewable energy by 2020. We met President and CEO Bundit Sapianchai in Singapore, who told us he's already spent US$1 billion on clean energy investments and has plans to spend another billion, including the latest venture into geothermal in Indonesia. Keep an eye on BCPG Group, the Asian leader in clean energy investing.
Meet Jane Goodall at Gaia Discovery
Dr Jane Goodall speaks of conservation issues and solutions, involving youth through Roots & Shoots. Gaia Discovery's  Mallika Naguran  had the privilege of meeting the legendary activist. Conservation has many forms but some are effective, some not, according to Dr. Jane Goodall. She should know. The 83-year-old primatologist has spent nearly 60 years championing the cause of wildlife and habitat protection around the world with successful approaches. Act to conserve and help prevent the worst of climate change, but we must act now. Read Gaia Discovery's report.
Interface Leads the Way
Interface would have to be one of the best examples in the world of a business that is totally committed to sustainability and addressing its impact on the environment. We were reminded of this when we met Interface people at a recent event at the Singapore Sustainability Academy. See what they're doing to transform wasted nylon fishing nets into carpet tiles.
Fact: Interface has reduced its net greenhouse gas emissions per unit of product from manufacturing sites by 95% from 1996 to 2016 through diverse strategies, including process efficiencies, energy efficiencies (such as lighting and equipment replacement), fuel switching, direct use of renewable energy and use of market-based renewable energy instruments. There's much more, including the Interface story
Holistic Approach: Love our Cities
Welcome to the first Cities of Love Awards, conceived by Tai Lee Siang and Valeria Ang, co-authors of the book "Cities of Love". They’re looking for actions or initiatives in Singapore and Southeast Asia which have resulted in positive social, economic or environmental impact. Lee Sang and Valerie believe smaller enterprises or individuals who are making a bigger impact should share in the glory too. SASA and ABC Carbon welcomes the opportunity to be associated with the Cities of Love Awards.
Rethinking Energy; Navigating Change
That's the theme for the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW), reflecting the ways in which geopolitical developments, the momentum of renewables and grid storage, plus the oil and gas demand-supply imbalance, will impact the global energy landscape. Don't miss the 2017 Singapore International Energy Week from 23-27 October at Marina Bay Sands.
IEA Leader on Energy Efficiency
Building a Future in Sustainability
The 2-day National Energy Efficiency Conference (NEEC) 2017 will be held on 5 and 6 October 2017 at the Max Atria @ Singapore EXPO. This is the fifth NEEC organised by the National Environment Agency, the Economic Development Board and the Energy Market Authority. Its main objective is to provide thought leadership in energy efficiency, bringing together energy efficiency experts and industry energy professionals to share best practices and case studies of successful projects. One of the keynote speakers this year is the head of Energy Efficiency at International Energy Agency (IEA) Dr Brian Motherway (above). For more on the conference programme, speakers, exhibition and awards, go to the NEEC website.
Brands for Good supports business, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that share the vision to make an impact and focus on the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability. SMEs add up to 99% of private companies, employ 70% of the workforce and contribute up to 50% to Asia’s GDP. Today’s conscious SMEs can successfully redefine their brand purpose and develop their social license. Larger organisations, as well as industry leaders, have an unprecedented opportunity to lead, guide and nurture SMEs to become Brands For Good, thereby creating a multiplier effect. For more about Brands for Good and its awards programme, see this.
Last Word from Ken Hickson
Tropical and Topical
Connecting in Access Asia: In Ken Hickson’s latest article in AustCham’s magazine, he connects the thoughts and actions of Dr Adrian Ward of ACSST and Professor Sandra Harding, James Cook University with Dr Parag Khanna, the Connectography guru. He draws attention to the State of the Tropics, international sustainability education and how we need to face up to the certain changes that are already occurring – the digital disruption and the clean energy revolution – along with the inevitable and uncomfortable future that climate change brings. Read the full article in the magazine here. 

"Climate Change: The Perfect Problem versus The Art of Sustainability" was the title of the presentation and paper by Ken Hickson at World Urban Parks Congress at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore on 19 July 2017. The illustration at left, called Crabbes Creek, is by artist Dave Hickson and seems to be saying something about the challenges of living in the tropics. See and read for yourself.

When Departure Means Arrival: All about the issue and reality of Climate Departure (from a University of Hawaii 2013 study), which has been largely ignored by those in authority. It identified Manokwari (pictured) in West Papua, Indonesia, as the first place to experience Climate Departure. This article in the August issue of ANZA Magazine shows where in Southeast Asia climate change is having its early impact. Read the article here.
ABC Carbon Express is brought to you by SASA