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United Kingdom - August 20

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House of Lords suggests lifting VAT from cost of repairing electrical goods

Jill Sherman, The Times
VAT [Value Added Tax]should be lifted from the cost of repairing televisions, vacuum cleaners and fridges to discourage people from throwing them away as soon as they stop working, the Government will be told today.

The House of Lords Science Committee argues that with electronic appliances getting cheaper and labour more expensive, most householders are not prepared to pay the high costs of repairing goods. As a result, more and more appliances are being dumped into landfill and replaced by the latest design on the market.

“Waste could be reduced if consumers were encouraged to retain products for longer and repair them when necessary. Changes to the value-added tax regime may be required,” the peers say.
(20 August 2008)



Plan for anaerobic digesters in every town to recycle leftovers

Lewis Smith, The Times
Waste-disposal units designed to turn leftover food into electricity and fertiliser could be built around every town and city as part of a scheme being considered by ministers.

The new generation of anaerobic digesters has been developed in a government-sponsored trial designed to find ways of solving the shortage of landfill sites.

They will be ideally located in suburbs because, unlike previous models, the new units are not reliant on farm slurry to provide moisture for the recycling process. Without the smelly transportation of animal waste, the prospect of plants in urban areas, will, the Government hopes, be a lot easier for residents to digest.

The ability to process waste on a commercial scale without using slurry was developed as part of a £30million trial in Ludlow, Shropshire, by Greenfinch, an engineering firm working with government backing, in partnership with South Shropshire District Council. It was prompted by the need to reduce the 16-18 million tonnes of waste food that is buried as landfill each year...
(20 August 2008)



Revealed: the massive scale of UK's water consumption

Felicity Lawrence , The Guardian
Each Briton uses 4,645 litres a day when hidden factors are included

The scale of British water consumption and its impact around the world is revealed in a new report today, which warns of the hidden levels needed to produce food and clothing.

The UK has become the sixth largest net importer of water in the world, the environment group WWF will tell a meeting of international experts in Stockholm, with every consumer indirectly responsible for the use of thousands of litres a day. Only 38% of the UK's total water use comes from its own resources; the rest depends on the water systems of other countries, some of which are already facing serious shortages.

The study makes the first attempt to measure the UK's total "water footprint" and highlights the extent to which our imports come from countries which are running out of fresh water...
(20 August 2008)

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