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Resource Efficiency

A new resource-efficiency framework for bridge design highlights that adaptability is key to circularity

Increasing resource efficiency in the construction industry, in line with circular economy principles, could greatly reduce waste and increase sustainability. Focusing on bridges — often demolished when requirements change — this study presents a way to rate the circularity of different design options. The new framework could help decision making at the procurement stage of infrastructure projects.<a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/569na5_en-1338_development-of-a-bridge-circularity-assessment-framework.pdf">Click here to read more</a>

 
The 'Dark Ecological Network': strategically tackling light pollution for biodiversity and people

Night-time light pollution from artificial sources can disrupt biological processes and fragment habitats. This study presents a new concept for addressing the problem: a 'dark ecological network'. Its development involves mapping a new system of connected functional zones and corridors where dark can be preserved to help birds, bats and other taxa, and gives people the chance to experience starry skies. <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/569na2_en-1317_grasping-darkness_the-dark-ecological-network_v2.pdf">Click here to read more</a>

 
On May 31, the EU-Japan Summit took place with the Green Alliance as key deliverable

The key deliverable of the EU-Japan Summit was the Green Alliance – the first of its kind. The Alliance has a very strong environmental dimension reflecting the overall spirit of the European Green Deal and DG ENV top priorities. As such, it includes a joint commitment to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, circular economy, sustainable supply chains and the global plastics agreement. The intention is to deepen green cooperation with Japan, to make it more visible and promote the green agenda together at a global level.

 
GACERE - the Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency - takes off

The EU, teaming up with the United Nations Environment Programme, and in coordination with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, launched the Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (GACERE). The Alliance is one of the deliverables of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan. Alongside the EU, fourteen countries (Canada, Chile, Colombia, Japan, India, Kenya, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Rwanda, Morocco, South Africa and South Korea) have already joined the Alliance. A number of other countries are also considering their membership including Switzerland, Mexico, and Singapore. The second working meeting took place on 1 Jun 2021.

 
Circular consumption: paying attention to potential rebound effects

The circular economy (CE) aims to reduce the use of virgin materials by reusing materials as much as possible. This study examines which types of European households adopt circular consumption habits, how this is reflected in their material footprint and how rebound effects (when environmental actions result in financial savings or require consumer investments) may affect the overall impact. </br> </br> <b><a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/558na3_en-circular-consumption-paying-attention-to-potential-rebound-effects.pdf">Click here to read more</a></b>

 
Nanopesticides may have the potential to increase food production — but are they environmentally safe?

As the world’s population increases, so does the need for environmentally sustainable ways to increase food production. Nanopesticides are growing in popularity, as they appear able to achieve the same results as traditional agrochemicals when applied at lower amounts. However, regulatory and ecotoxicological research gaps remain. A literature review now identifies these gaps, and suggests the steps needed to enable sustainable nanopesticide use on a global scale. </br> </br> <b><a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/558na2_en-nanopesticides-may-have-the-potential-to-increase-food-production-but-are-they-environmentally-safe.pdf">Click here to read more</a></b>

 
Waste coffee grounds could provide carbon for use in high-energy storage devices

Demand for portable energy storage is growing with rising demand for products such as electric cars. Supercapacitors supply a higher power density and longer cycle life than a conventional battery but require porous carbon in their manufacture. A new study presents a method to create large amounts of carbon — suitable for supercapacitor manufacture — from an abundant, low-cost source: used coffee grounds.

 
Shifts in cropland and trade patterns could feed the world in 2050

How can we grow more crops without taking too much water away from freshwater ecosystems for irrigation? A new study indicates that it is possible to double crop production by 2050 without exceeding set limits for water extraction if more crops are grown in regions with higher rainfall and with corresponding shifts in international trade and agricultural management. However, without appropriate safeguards, and if we follow the current business-as-usual scenario, this could come at the ecological cost of converting natural land and forest into cropland. This research provides a ‘first-step’ in analysing potential trade-offs in the global food-trade-water nexus.