Packaging Action in Falkirk

Some pictures from the Packaging action held at Morrisons supermarket in Falkirk.


Meeting Report Sept 2007 Part 1

The speaker this month was Shaun from Going Carbon Neutral Riverside. GCNR us a grass roots organisation based in teh riverside are of Stirling (right) who are working toward reducing emissions in their community.

Shaun covered the organisations involved and the work done so far in moving forward with the project. The group has been reasonably well funded and their work in producing a feasability study on a biomass district heating scheme is likely to be of value to other similar sized communities. Other work has included looking at improvements to insulation in buildings, promoting existing schemes to fund loft and cavity wall insulation, and the supply of energy saving light bulbs although the choice of free bulbs has limited uptake. Improvement in community lighting in closes has also been examined based on experience in Glasgow. One technical issue which has come up and will resonate in many areas of Sotlnais the difficulty in insulating older stone built homes.

The Going Carbon Neutral Riverside website has details including an excellent energy reduction diary .


PACKAGING ACTION DAY - Saturday 27th October 2007



On Saturday 27th October 2007 at 11am in Morrisons Store, Hope Street, Falkirk.

What is a Packaging Action day?

It is a day when people in the community travel to a local supermarket and present the Manager with what they consider to be excess waste from that supermarket.

What is the purpose of this day?

The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of the issue of excess packaging. We’re aiming to persuade supermarkets to make changes to their use of excessive food packaging and plastic, as well as encouraging them to use environmentally friendly practices.

Who can participate?

Anyone who is fed up with over-packaged goods can take part and it will only take an hour or so of your time!

What do I need to do to participate?

Contact your local Waste Prevention champion
(Corrie Cuthbertson) for more details

Join in and help make a difference!!!


Off to a bad start

Due to other commitments I missed a few stories through the last couple of months.

One interesting article according to edie.net

Brown downgrades climate committee
Source: www.edie.net

Not a promising start from our new leader.

More in the Guardian on the problems with biofuels.

Biofuels switch a mistake, say researchers

And finally some local news which has already been doing the rounds.

£18m waste plant plan for Polmont

Better news than an incinerator although a reduction in waste would be preferable to a technical fix that makes it seem that waste is a solution to another problem. It would be interesting to find our how much of the embodied energy in the waste is actually recovered by this process.


An Inconvenient Truth

There will be a showing of An Inconvenient Truth at Falkirk Town Hall on Tuesday the 26th
of June at 7.30pm.

FOE Falkirk will have a stall and a discussion has been arranged in the lounge after the film.



A reminder of the cyberactions web page on FOE-Scotland.

Currently there are two actions related to climate change.

Demand a tougher Climate Bill

Write to your MP about the Climate Bill


CATE (Crap at the environment) is comedian Mark Watson's attempt to tackle environmental issues in his and the lifes of other members. The group and blog on myspace consists of discussion of issues, and the setting of personal challenges. These vary from the quite particular issues like buying no plastic for a week, spending no money for a day to doing something on the World Environment Day (did anyone notice) actions list. Although generally light hearted some of the discussion highlights just how difficult it can be to try and reduce our environmental impact.

CATE on myspace


Meeting - May

Friends of the Earth Falkirk meet on Monday 29th May, 7.30 at the Christian Centre, Falkirk. There will be a introduction to a new Friends of the Earth Scotland project by Rosiaina Browning FoE Scotland’s Waste Prevention Co-ordinator. The CREW tour will be about 'climate-friendly living'. The project will explain to members of the public what steps they can take to live climate friendly lives. At the same time it will explain what the government should be doing to make it easier for people to live greener lifestyles.


Carbon Offsetting

A lovely wee video someone posted a link to on the CAT bulletin board.



I don't think I've seen a simpler argument against carbon offsetting.


Falkirk Development Plan

As discussed at the last meeting the local plan will be available for objections this week from the 20th of April until the 1st of June.

It will be available on the council web site and also in local libraries, one stop shops and at Abbotsford house where it is also available for purchase at £32.75



There are no specific issues on the Agenda for this months meeting. As usual all are welcome, if you have an environmental issue you want to discuss come along.


Alternate weekly collection

There has been a lot of coverage in the press recently about alternate weekly rubbish collection schemes similar to that currently used in most of Falkirk. There seems to be a growing number of people raising concerns over smells, vermin, insects, and disease.

While I can understand some of the concerns, especially as this is much of the media this is sold as a simple story of council cutting services, in some areas concern is being replaced by a level of hysteria which is difficult to believe. I feel that the advantages of a separate bi-weekly recycling service isn't being communicated well to the public. AFAIK most of the schemes proposed would work in a similar way to our local system.

As this scheme has been in place in Falkirk for some time it might be worth while trying to pass our experiences of the scheme onto some who just can't believe that civilisation will survive only having a waste bin collected once a fortnight.

The following site seems to be one woman's battle against bi-weekly waste collection. The forum is free and no registration is required so I decided to share my positive experience of our waste collection system. Some how I don't think this is likely to persuade her, it may however make others who come across the site think.


I think there may be room here for some concerted action to try and get the good news story of AWC out to the public. My suggestion is where you find discussion add note of your experiences, I'm sure the debate will be going on in many blogs and discussion groups.


Climate change vs Peak oil

There has been an interesting discussion on the Transition Culture blog about the subjects of Climate change and Peak oil. There is often debate about whether these issues are complimentary and should be used together in campaigning for change or should be seperated. Generally the latter view is more common amoung those who campaign against Climate change and see Peak oil as either irrelevant or worse as a potential threat to action.

George Monbiot on peak oil and transition towns

There is some interesting counter arguments to George Monbiot's talk in the discussion that follows the post and also a more detailed response later by Chris Vernon of the oil drum europe.


Scottish Parliament Hustings*

Hosted by Friends of the Earth Falkirk & Falkirk Churches Together
On Thursday 19th April 2007 7-9pm at the Salvation Army Hall
Woodside Court (off High Station Road), Falkirk.
Chaired by Ian Scott.

Falkirk East candidates
  • Annabelle Ewing SNP
  • Nataliee Maver Liberal Democrats
  • Cathy Peattie Labour
  • Stephen O'Rourke Conservatives

Falkirk West candidates

  • Scott Campbell Conservatives
  • Callum Chonczuk LibDem
  • Dennis Goldie Labour Party
  • Michael Matheson SNP
Regional List candidates
  • David Robertson Green Party
  • Tom Selfridge Scottish Christian Party
  • Lynn Sheridan Solidarity
  • Mary Straub Scottish Socialist Party
*All the political parties standing in the Falkirk Area have been invited to represent their views.



The first part of the March meeting will give an opportunity for a Journalist from the Falkirk Herald to interview members for the papers soap box article.
A general discussion will follow, and some updates on the plans for an environmental hustings which members are organising.


E-Petitions - Council Tax could be a Green Tax

On and off in the media there have been reports about the methods used for revalueing properties for council tax. It seems likely that any improvement will result in an increased valuating and increased council tax bills. At the moment this will probably include improvements intended to reduce carbon emissions such as solar panels, wind turbines, improvements in insulation, heat recovery systems. The nice people at CAT have set up a petition on the governments petition website.


Please read it, sign it if you feel strongly and pass this information on to anyone else you feel may be interested.

There is also a petition requesting more land to be set aside for allotments around the country, I guess this is devolved but there doesn't seem to be any harm in signing it. I know this issue is something that some members feel strongly about.



Probably a little more controversial but here's another petition of interest on planning issues for renewables.



February Meeting Report

After a short discussion on news, events in the coming months the meetings main focused turned to Robin Baird, Falkirk Councils Wast strategy co-ordinator.

Robin gave an interesting talk on Falkirk Councils residential waste management policy. This covered the current three bin system, some of reasons for the limitations on the recyclables collected and possible enhancements to the system in the future. Some of the financial and operational demands were explained, as was the reasons for the slow roll-out of the system across the council area. The key advantage of the simple and slow approach adopted by Falkirk is relatively low rates of contamination in the recyclable waste collected. The composting method used for the waste in the brown (compostable) bins was explained and some possible enhancements to this was discussed including the future possibility of collecting kitchen waste and using an in vessel composting system to produce clean safe compost from this waste further reducing landfill.
  • Currently 62,000 households are taking part in the system, this will reach 68,000 by the end of this month (March 2007).
  • 35% of the waste recovered by the council is recycled currently
  • only one of only six councils in Scotland to have won funding to extend recycling collection into flatted properties.
Some of the concerns expressed by the members included the lack of facilities at Roughmute, although the site has now been redeveloped to allow proper sorting of waste there is currently a shortage of labour to man it. A number of the members had experienced staff unwilling to direct them to separate waste, instead being encouraged to use the anything else waste pit.
Problem wastes such at tetra-pak containers, used batteries and fluorescent lamps were discussed although currently the council has no facilities to deal with them. The implications of the WEEE directive were also touched on. The issue of retail and small industrial waste disposal were also discussed although Mr Baird admitted that the council had very little control over this.

Falkirk Councils Waste Strategy


Too good to waste

The February meeting of Friends of the Earth Falkirk will concentrate on the issue of waste. A discussion will follow a presentation by Robin Baird, Falkirk Council's Waste Strategy Co-ordinator. The group meet on Monday 26th February at the Christian Centre, Glebe Street, Falkirk between 7.30 and 9.30. Anyone interested in waste minimisation and recycling welcome to come along and join in the discussion.

(Apologies to all for the late posting)


Climate change contributions

Posted with permission - credit to the Centre for Alternative Technology carbon gym team.

Humans are probably a significant driver of global climate change, by emission of 'infrared active' gases: CO2, CH4, NOx etc. We can estimate the contribution of our various activities - roughly, half are 'individual' e.g. car exhaust, and half, 'joint' e.g. burning fossil fuels to heat public buildings.

CAT is about to re-launch their Carbon Gym calculator. They think in terms of four types of emissions: (1) Direct and measurable; (2) Indirect, pro-rated on the bases of purchases; (3) Indirect, not pro-rated and attributed to the industrial sectors; (4) Fixed infrastructure, not pro-rated and attributable to government policy. They quote the following:

UK national average: 11 tonnes CO2 equivalent per person per year.
Breakdown: Direct - 35%; Indirect - 50%; Infrastructure - 15%.
Global per capita sustainable target: 2.5 tonnes CO2e per year

"The data comes from a variety of different sources including the Department for Trade and Industry, Department for Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Office of National Statistics."

On the basis of this research, CAT advise on ways to reduce CO2e. (They do not include work-related activities e.g. business trips). In rough order of priority:

(1) Fly less - you, and your goods.
Rough CO2e (tonne per person per trip) from the UK: 0.25 UK, 0.6 Europe, 2.0 USA, 3.0 India, 5.0 Australia.

(2) Drive less - you, and your goods.
Rough CO2e (tonne per vehicle per year): 1 per 5000 miles.

(3) Watch what you eat - prefer local, organic, unprocessed plant foods.
Rough CO2e (tonne per person per year) eating ordinary supermarket ready meals: 8
eating vegetarian supermarket ready meals: 2.5
cooking omnivorous supermarket food from scratch: 3
cooking omnivorous local organic: 0.5
cooking local vegan-organic: 0.1

(4) Don't heat with electricity - use solar, wood or gas.
Rough CO2e (tonne per person per year): Kept 'nice and warm' with electric heat: 5
with mains gas: 2
(assumes two occupants, moderate size detached house not to current building regulations)
Kept 'comfortable', mains gas, wall insulation, thermal glazing: 1

(5) Buy less - your indirect emissions are strongly correlated with 'disposed income'.

(6) Get political - to reduce 'infrastructure' and 'industry' emissions.


UK wind power reaches 2 gigawatts milestone

From the BBC website UK Wind power reaches milestone

The UK has become only the seventh nation in the world to have more than two gigawatts (GW) of operational wind power capacity.

The milestone was passed on Friday when the Braes O'Doune wind farm, near Stirling, began producing electricity.

Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling described it as a "major landmark" for the UK wind industry.

The government has set a target for 10% of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2010.

The 36-turbine Braes O'Doune wind farm, built and operated by Airtricity, has a generating capacity of 72 megawatts (MW), enough to supply electricity to 45,000 homes in the area, according to the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA).

Maria McCaffery, BWEA's chief executive, said passing the 2GW mark, equivalent to two coal-fired power stations, was a "tremendous step forward".

Progress visible from parts of Falkirk.


January meeting report

For those who didn't make it we had a film show as planned.

I was out voted and we watched "Who killled the electric car" which was very well presented using the story of the GM EV1 to illustrate the broader issues surrounding the attempts by California to try and reduce the environmental and human damage caused by the car.

The issues were well presented and although a lot of the technical problems with electric vehicles were glossed over the case was made for why the EV experiment ended.

Basically it came down to there being just too many groups with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. I prefer this explanation to some of the more hysterical "tin foil hat" conspiracy theories, it demonstrates you don't need dark figures in smoke filled rooms plotting, you just need a good financial incentive to carry on with business as usual. The tactics used by the motor industry, the oil industry and the fuel cell business interests all just came together and did for the EV.

Whether EV can really be a solution is a bigger question, in a world where we drive less perhaps electric vehicles can provide a technical solution for our reduced transport needs.

The general consensus at the meeting seemed to be the film missed the bigger issue but did demonstrate the obstacles which will be put in place to those fighting climate change, preparing for peak oil, or both. We have already seen Bush offering technical solutions with Hydrogen, biofuels and most recently with carrying out experiments with our atmosphere, all to carry on with business as usual.

In response to a lovely optimistic post on another forum I sketched out the following. The original idea was we would all make Hydrogen from electricity generated from wind power at night. I need to fact check this but post it for information anyway.

I'm not convinced that would work a little back of the beer mat math gives you an idea of the scale of the problem.

Petrol has an energy density of over 30MJ / Litre, it's actually a bit more that that but I'll use 30 to keep the numbers simple (they are going to be huge).

Lets say cars get an average of 45 mpg (excuse the mixed units) that works out around 10 miles per litre giving an energy usage of 3MJ / mile (30/10).

Hydrogen cell advocates typically claim that cells are three times more efficient than heat engines (internal combustion engine), I'm skeptical but lets use take it as a fact, so our new exciting FCV will run at around 1MJ per mile.

A typical car in the Uk does 10,000 miles a year, that's 10,000 MJ or 10GJ per year.

I have a figure in my head of 25,000,000 cars on the road, I think that's a couple of year old but it'll do for now.

That makes the energy demand assuming all cars were converted to hydrogen fuel cells around 250,000,000 Gj per year

Current UK electrcity production is around 1,224,000 Gj per year again this is based on a number in my head (340,000 GWh = 1,224,000 GJ again this is old so may need checking).

Now that's unfair because some traffic will move over to alternatives such as bio-diesel, so if we half the demand figure and say we need 125,000,000 GJ then we only need to generate one hundred times as much electricity as we do now just to fuel cars, this is based on carrying on with current driving patterns.

It's not all bad news, there are some experimental FCV that run as low as 0.333MJ per mile but the numbers still don't add up.

On bio-diesel there was an interesting story at the tail end of last week, tortillas in south america have shot up in price due to increased demand for corn for conversion into bio-fuel in the states.

Anyone for a bike?


January meeting

The first FoE Falkirk meeting of the year will be at the usual venue but on Monday and not the usual Wednesday. The group will now meet on the last MONDAY of the month at the Christian Centre, Glebe Street, Falkirk 7.30 to 9.30.

There will be a showing of either "Crude Impact" or "Who Killed the Electric Car"

All welcome.


Vote with your Feet - the 2007 everyone election campaign

The Falkirk meeting is coming up at the end of the month. Before that Foe Edinburgh are holding a meeting that sounds very interesting.

Date: Thursday 25th January 2007, at 7.30pm

Venue: Augustine United Church, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh

Speaker: Ylva Haglund, Campaign Coordinator, everyone campaign

Vote with your Feet - the 2007 everyone election campaign

Ylva Haglund will explain how the latest campaign was put together to focus on the Holyrood elections in May, and what you can do to support this.

How can we persuade politicians that unless they change the way we treat the planet, we will change them - by voting for somebody else?

Top issues in this campaign include:

- Climate change
- Loss of our wildlife and habitats
- Destruction of our landscape
- Pollution of our seas
- Our health and wellbeing

The everyone campaign, an initiative of Scottish Environment LINK, is a network of Scottish environment charities which campaigns to establish the environment as a serious mainstream
issue in Scotland.
Charities involved include Friends of the Earth Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, Ramblers' Association, RSPB, Scottish Wildlife Trust and WWF Scotland.

See www.everyonecan.org for more details.

Going green with DEFRA

The end of December saw the official lauch of the DEFRA greener living website.

Most of it is commonsense advice and is available elsewhere but it's nice to see a government site promoting it. Unusually the section on air travel is reasonable, recommending a reduction in air travel, only flying as a last resort and even covers the problems with offsetting.

If only the rest of governments policies reflected the actions and choices they would like us to make.