New year, new good news.
Let’s not dwell on all the bad news, as we could write a whole other blog post about everything going on at the minute….so lets move on and jump straight into our favourite good news stories from the month of December.
Waitrose shoppers increasingly turn to loose veg
Waitrose says its shoppers are becoming increasingly environmentally savvy, with many wanting to buy loose rather than packaged vegetables.
The upmarket grocer says orders of its six best-selling loose vegetables at Christmas are up by 75% this year, while sales of their packaged equivalents are down.
Over the last 10 months, sales of loose broccoli and parsnips are up by 8% and 6% respectively. Loose carrots sales have risen by 21%, while loose red potatoes sales increased by 23% in the last two months alone. Sales of loose sprouts are outperforming their packaged version by 5%.
Waitrose & Partners fresh produce buyer Paul Bidwell says:
“For the last 20 years, the convenience of packaged produce has seen it outsell loose, but as consumers have become increasingly environmentally conscious and wanting to buy only what they need, we could be returning to how people used to shop with loose produce making a big comeback. We know we have a lot of work still to do to encourage customers to buy more loose fruit and vegetables, but there are signs we are seeing a shift in customer behaviour and we want to build on that momentum.”
Separately, sales of refillables at Waitrose’s four stores that feature its ‘Unpacked format’ are outselling packaged equivalents by 68%. The supermarket is testing taking products including pasta, lentils, cereals and frozen fruit out of their packaging.
$5bn fund unveiled for climate-friendly shipping
A group of ship owners have announced plans for a $5bn (£3.8bn) fund to design zero-emissions vessels.
They say $2 (£1.50) should be levied on every tonne of ships’ fuel – to support research into clean engines. Shipping creates about 3% of the emissions that are over-heating the climate – equivalent to all of Germany’s CO2.
Environmentalists welcomed the proposal but also described it as too little, too late. They say it’s outrageous that international shipping pays no fuel taxes, unlike lorry owners. Green groups argue that if ships were taxed at the same level as lorries, 70 times more cash for developing clean engines would be raised in Europe alone.
Around 250m tonnes of fuel a year are burned by ships. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) says that 90% of owners globally are behind the $2 levy on fuel.
Guy Platten, secretary-general of the ICS told BBC News:
“I have seen a massive change in the opinion of ships’ owners over the past few years. They’ve realised that we’ve got to do our bit by decarbonising shipping – and that means designing zero-carbon ships. That’s why we need the levy. At the moment we can’t yet see what the best clean fuel would be for ships. But there’s a real urgency about solving the problem.”
First trees in ‘Forest for Cornwall’ planted
The first of 10 million trees that will form 20,000-acres of new forest have been planted.
Schoolchildren, volunteers and councillors planted the first 105 trees in Cornwall Council’s ambitious Forest for Cornwall in Saltash. It is the flagship project of the council’s climate change action plan, aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030.
The Woodland Trust said “Cornwall is in the lead” when it comes to planting new trees.
Planting the first tree was Edwina Hannaford, cabinet member for climate change at Cornwall Council. She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service:
“It is a really ambitious project but with lots of help like we have here today we will be able to plant a lot of trees and hedgerows.”
The council is launching a ‘treeometer’ which would monitor how many new trees are being planted and was asking people to post their efforts on social media. The project will see trees planted all over Cornwall with an aim to create 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres) of new tree canopy.
The council will also be encouraging more hedgerows to be planted.
Ross Kennerley, south west regional director of the Woodland Trust, said:
“Looking across England and the south west I would say that Cornwall is in the lead when it comes to planting new trees.”
World’s first commercial electric airplane successfully completes test flight in Canada
Earlier this month, the world’s first all-electric commercial aircraft made history after it touched down from a successful test flight in Vancouver, Canada.
The 15-minute inaugural flight was facilitated by Harbour Air, North America’s largest seaplane airline, and magniX, the company powering the electric aviation revolution.
The successful flight of the ePlane, a six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver magnified by a 750-horsepower (560 kW) magni500 propulsion system, took place on the Fraser River at Harbour Air Seaplanes terminal in Richmond.
Harbour Air CEO and founder Greg McDougall, who piloted the plane for its historic flight, said that the journey signifies the start of the third era in aviation: the electric age.
Greg McDougall, CEO and founder of Harbour Air Seaplanes said:
“I am incredibly proud of Harbour Air’s leadership role in re-defining safety and innovation in the aviation and seaplane industry. Canada has long held an iconic role in the history of aviation, and to be part of this incredible world-first milestone is something we can all be really proud of.”
Earlier this year, Harbour Air announced its partnership with magniX and the company’s intention to build the world’s first completely electric commercial seaplane fleet. The magni500, which was unveiled at the Paris Air Show in June 2019, is a high-power-density electric propulsion system that provides a clean and efficient way to power airplanes.
MagniX and Harbour Air will now begin the certification and approval process for the propulsion system and the retrofitting of aircraft. Once the certification is complete, the rest of the fleet can be magnified with magniX’s all-electric propulsion technology.