Scotland Launches a Much Smarter Recycling Program

Scotland is completely reorganizing how it measures and incentivizes recycling to focus on what matters most: reducing carbon. It's a global first.

Generally, recycling rates are calculated by the total tonnage or the percentage of material recycled. But if the goal of recycling is to reduce the environmental impact of that stuff, those ways of measuring recycling don't make a lot of sense because not all recycling is equally valuable. Certain materials are way more carbon-intensive to produce, making the benefits of recycling them greater. And similarly, recycling processes themselves can be more or less energy-intensive.

In what it's describing as a first-of-its-kind initiative, Scotland is completely reorganizing how it measures and incentivizes recycling to encourage cities to focus on what matters most: reducing carbon. The new "carbon metric" will

prioritise materials with a high carbon impact such as plastics and textiles, which currently have relatively low levels of recycling in Scotland. It will also highlight the relative merits of different waste management options, and will support the aspiration for greater ‘closed loop’ recycling markets, for example, by giving higher weighting to glass which is recycled back into glass rather than that which is used for aggregates or insulation materials.


At the same time, local governments will be focusing less on materials that aren't as important to recycle in terms of carbon saved, like paper.

The debate about whether or not recycling is "worth it" has simmered since John Tierney's 1996 New York Times Magazine story "Recycling Is Garbage," with critics denouncing recycling as exorbitantly expensive and environmentalists defending it as necessary for preserving the planet. But both sides in this pitched battle rarely note that there are lots of pretty obvious ways to improve recycling that we haven't even tried yet. Optimizing the practice for carbon savings, like Scotland is doing, is one great example.

Photo (cc) from Flickr user aeu04117

via Alan Levine / Flickr

The World Health Organization is hoping to drive down the cost of insulin by encouraging more generic drug makers to enter the market.

The organization hopes that by increasing competition for insulin, drug manufacturers will be forced to lower their prices.

Currently, only three companies dominate the world insulin market, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. Over the past three decades they've worked to drastically increase the price of the drug, leading to an insulin availability crisis in some places.

In the United States, the price of insulin has increased from $35 a vial to $275 over the past two decades.

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Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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The Planet

Since the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, whale populations have been steadily recovering. However, whales in the wild still face other dangers. In the summer of 2018, four Russian companies that supply aquariums with marine animals captured almost 100 beluga whales and killer whales (aka orcas). After a public outcry, those whales are swimming free as the last of the captive whales have been released, the first time this many captured whales have been released back into the wild.

In late 2018 and early 2019, a drone captured footage of 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales crammed into holding pens in the Srednyaya Bay. The so-called "whale jail" made headlines, and authorities began to investigate their potentially illegal capture.

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The Planet
via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

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via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The 2020 election is a year away, but Donald Trump has some serious ground to cover if he doesn't want it to be a historical blowout.

A Washington Post- ABC News poll released Tuesday shows that Trump loses by double digits to the top Democratic contenders.

Vice President Joe Biden (56%-39%); Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (54%-39%); Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (56%-39%); South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (52%-41%); and Sen. Kamala Harris of California (52%-41%) all have big leads over the president.

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