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Environment Policy

News Alert

The fortnightly News Alert forms the cornerstone of the Science for Environment Policy service.

Full details of the research paper that each article is based on are provided, along with contact details for the lead author of the original study, should subscribers wish to find out more.

Latest Alert

Issue 545

A new tool to identify the most sustainable and cost-effective disaster waste management strategy after a flood

Extreme weather events, such as floods and landslides, are becoming more common in European countries due to climate change. After a flood or landslide, five to 15 times the annual waste generated by a community can be disposed of in an affected urban area. This can lead to environmental and health vulnerability in these areas, with high socio- economic costs. This study aimed to find sustainable and cost-effective disaster waste management (DWM) solutions. The scenarios selected, and associated data used, reflect realistic events in Italy.

How to close the global circularity gap? In 2011, six gigatonnes of potentially recyclable material went to waste

Living sustainably within our planet’s boundaries is a matter of global concern, with some countries now focusing on the development of a circular economy (CE) — where materials are reused as much as possible. Much CE research has focused on the amount of waste being recycled; the focus of this study, however, is on quantifying the amount of material that is not being recycled but could be — a distinction known as the ‘circularity gap’ (CG).

Protected areas provide mental health benefits worth US$6 (€5.55) trillion globally

Exposure to nature is known to improve mental health and wellbeing. As poor psychological health has an economic cost and positive mental health contributes to a stronger economy, nature reserves, therefore, have additional economic value — alongside the value arising from ecosystem services and tourism — through their beneficial impact on visitors’ wellbeing. This Australian study considers how to calculate the economic value of protected areas in terms of mental health, focusing on the costs saved as a result of reduced uptake of mental health services, using data on one-off, yearly and lifetime visitors to the country’s national parks.

Rapid urban expansion is reducing plants’ ability to store carbon

Global urban expansion is accelerating, affecting the amount of carbon held within plant communities on Earth. New high-resolution data on global land use and cover has enabled scientists to track urban expansion and quantify the amount of carbon lost from terrestrial carbon sinks as a result.