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Councilor Len Gregory, cabinet member for transportation and street services has recently praised Birmingham City Residents for tripling the city’s recycling rate in just 10 years, but insists there is still room for improvement.

Recently released statistics by Recycle Now show that recycling rates have increased 26 per cent in the West Midlands since 1999. Over one million tonnes of waste in this region has been diverted from landfills in 2008-09.

Councilor Le Gregory is keen to encourage further improvements suggesting that:

“Figures clearly show the hard work of recent years is paying off. We are getting better at recycling; meaning the amount of waste we send to landfill is reducing.”

Birmingham has also steadily increased its recycling rate, moving from 15 per cent to 32 per cent in the last five years. He went on to say:

“It’s very encouraging to see that nearly everyone is recycling at least one material, but if everyone recycled the full range of materials collected such as plastic bottles, metals or textiles, we could really improve upon these figures.”

Laura Underwood from Recycle Now also added:

“In this country we are getting better at recycling. The amount of waste we send to landfill is constantly falling.”

For more information on recycling in Birmingham, check out the Birmingham City Council website.

A successful energy saving campaign in Coventry and Warwick may be making its way to Birmingham soon if the council can be persuaded to promote the idea.

The ‘Switch it off’ campaign has been running in Coventry and Warwick for four years now, since 2006, and covers one and a half million people. Since it began the campaign has had a lot of success. It was suggested that since the campaign was such a success, Birmingham’s participation would greatly improve both the success of the campaign and Birmingham’s profile as a leader in sustainable development.

Karl Whale, the Environmental Outreach Officer of Birmingham Friends of the Earth said that the project intended:

“To get Birmingham Council to promote and participate in the Switch it off campaign which has been so successful in Coventry and Warwick.”

The Big Switch Off during 2009 took place between 4:30pm and 6:30pm on Friday the 13th of November. During this time electricity was monitored and there was a 26.9-megawatt drop in peak demand when compared to the same time the previous week. This is equivalent to 154,598 households in Coventry, Warwickshire and Worcestershire turning off their televisions for the full two hours. It was suggested that if Birmingham were to participate this success would be much greater.

Karl Whale goes on to say:

“In order to do this we must develop links within the council to promote the Switch it off campaigns ideals and values, as well as encouraging people to work within the council to organize events such as the Big Switch Off and promoting the message that turning electrical appliances off rather than leaving them on standby can save energy, money and the environment.”

So a big campaign for people to switch off their electricity for an hour a week/month has apparently been very successful in Coventry. I’ve spoken to a guy about it and he seems very enthusiastic about bringing the campaign to Birmingham all in the aid of saving energy.

Should it really come down to needing to switch everything off for a period of time so that we’re saving energies, or should we be designing better energy saving techniques? Will the campaign work in Birmingham and have any of you heard of the campaign in Coventry…or anywhere else for that matter?

I’m not really sure what I think about it really. I can see that it would of course be saving energy if everybody in Birmingham switched everything off for an hour or so, but on the grand scale of things I can’t see it changing the world. I suppose this is me being cynical again and I suppose everything has to start somewhere.

Birmingham City Council is currently considering a revolutionary project that could see thousands of homes and businesses in Birmingham fitted with energy efficient improvements.

The Green New Deal project that eventually aims to see all homes in Birmingham retrofitted with the energy efficient improvements will be launched as a pilot project within Aston, Lozells, Newton and Northfield. 25,000 homeowners and 1000 businesses will be offered the chance to trial the significant energy improvements made to their properties through use of both insulation and small scale generation, which will eventually save them money.

Councillor Paul Tilsey, Deputy Leader of the Birmingham city Council, said:

“The project offers a fantastic opportunity for homeowners to not only cut carbon pollution, but also save themselves thousands of pounds by drastically reducing future bills without the need for any huge up front payment”

Not only does the project have prospects of saving energy and reducing C02 emissions, it also serves as potential career opportunities, opening up 270 jobs in the process. It was suggested that by hitting their five-year target of one in fives homes in the pilot area taking up the scheme, this would still see an annual C02 saving of more than 3750 tonnes.

Councillor Paul Tilsey goes on to say that,

“If we can successfully operate this scheme within the pilot area, and really get local people bought in, then there is no reason at all we can’t look to roll this out across all of Birmingham in the future, setting a green standard beyond that of any city in the world.”

After reading through the BBC News this weekend I found an interesting article regarding a Biofuel power plant being refused in Avonmouth. I won’t go into the full details of the article as you can read it yourself, but it left me with a slight sense of happiness actually. The reason it made me happy was that the Biofuel power plant seemed to be primarily refused because it would be using palm oil, which is said to be the cause for lots of rainforest destruction.

Even though the city councillors were told they needed to think of this with no emotions, the city councillors refused the Biofuel power plant, and could now face an appeal from the applicant, which would need the councillors to justify their decision properly.

I was quite surprised to see this story, and I suppose I would usually stereotype a city councillor into being fairly heartless and uncaring of the environment , nevermind rainforests (which is of course wrong of me to do..) Still, it was nice to see this story.

So…I’m not sure if this actually happened or if I’m completely making it up now. I remember hearing something a few weeks ago about scientists finding a bug/insect/animal of some sort that would excrete some sort of usuable fuel. Did this actually happen or am I going crazy? Links perhaps?

This seems like the sort of thing I would dream up so that the world is just that much easier for us to live in. I mean, if we have some sort of insect that excretes fuel, surely things are gonna be a lot less stressful when it comes to the worlds fossil fuels running, or am I wrong?

Please comment on this one!

If some of you reading this are truly interested in Energy, it is quite likely that you are following UK politician, Ed Milliband (secretary of state for energy..which is about the only on topic part of this post) on Twitter.

There’s also a chance that you received a direct message from Mr. Milliband recently, “Hhey, i’ve been having better sex and longer with this here” which one should probably ignore as well as any link attached to said direct message.

The message sent is clearly not actually Ed Milliband, and the secretary of state for energy later confirmed this by tweeting, “Oh dear it seems I’ve fallen victim to Twitter’s latest ‘phishing’ scam.”

Birmingham City Council has actually set up a, Birmingham Energy Advice Manual, covering topics relating to energy saving. The site suggests, “Being efficient with your energy use will save you energy and money.” It lists a number of different things that can both save energy in our homes and at work.

However, I have to ask, do we really live in a day and age where people do not understand the simplicities of what does and does not save energy? Turning off a light switch when we leave a room, turning off a tap when we’re done washing our hands. Are the council really naive enough to believe people don’t know *how* to save energy that they need to not only produce, but also constantly update a guide teaching people ‘how to save energy’. This may be a very cynical post, but if people do not want to save energy, in my personal opinion, it’s down to laziness, not due to a lack of knowledge, and therefore maybe the council should think of a way of tackling this instead.