One of the main topics in this week's Eco-friendly news, the interior of an empty airline cabin with rows of what would be white recycled leather seats.
Mar 4, 2024
weekly eco news

From Upcycled Seats to Stricter Penalties: Exploring Eco-friendly Innovations and Environmental Justice - 17th Issue

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Supplying Sustainable Wooden Locks to Amsterdam

Waterfall and rainforests of Gabon, the source of Amsterdam's sustainable wood locks.

More than 200 intricate lock gates protect Amsterdam from flooding waters. Sourced through sustainable practices, most modern woodworks within the city are made from Azobé wood. This tropical timber, renowned for its strong, water-resistant properties, only grows thousands of miles away in the rainforests of the Congo Basin, specifically the nation of Gabon. 

“The authorities of Gabon, they want to put effort into preserving their own forest,” says David Zakamdi, director of sustainable management at Precious Woods. “And it is clear now that they are doing better than all the other countries around us.”

Despite the problem of tropical deforestation, harvesting trees does not have to mean loss of this biodiverse ecosystem. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified these practices with their gold stamp of approval for sustainable forest management. The certification also requires dedicated conservation areas for wildlife with required conservation areas.

By protecting these rich tropical forests, Gabon is now one of only eight countries in this forest network that have reached net-zero emissions. Its trees capture more carbon than emitted by the nation. 

Foresters nurture the forest by planting 9 seedlings for each harvested log in an onsite nursery. At 50 centimeters tall, they are then transplanted into their natural habitat. Growing new trees sequesters more carbon than their old-growth counterparts. These sustainable practices proves its possible to utilize Earth’s resources with respect. 

Warm Water Sea Slug Discovered in England

A war water sea slug with black, green and orange vibrant colors.

A sea slug species, named Pleurobranchaea britannica, was discovered by a research ship anchored off the southwest coast of England. Normally swimming in the warmer Mediterranean Sea, scientists believe that these marine mollusks, among other species, are migrating north due to climate change. It is possible that this can disturb current food chain structures. 

There are 100 different sea slugs in the UK waters. This discovery shows that even in the most studied seas, there are still discoveries to be found.

"To find a new species that's not microscopic is quite exciting. It shows that there's still work to be done," said Peter Barry of Centre for the Environment, Food and Aquaculture Science.

Despite their unassuming size, these animals are top predators in their ecosystem. Referred to as an ‘indicator species,’ scientists use sea slugs to understand the health of the marine environment. This is because their shell-less bodies are sensitive to human impacts. 

Tougher Penalties for Environmental Crimes

An example of oil leak from ship polluting a large body of water with black oil mass which would be subject to the new EU penalties in the future.

The European Parliament passed a revolutionary amendment that will now criminalize cases ‘comparable to ecocide’ — acts committed with the known likelihood of environmental destruction that can impact human health. Permits will no longer protect individuals from criminal liabilities if the activities will cause irreversible damage.

“The new directive opens a new page in the history of Europe, protecting against those who harm ecosystems and, through them, human health. It means putting an end to environmental impunity in Europe, which is crucial and urgent,” she says.

These criminal acts are rapidly growing into the fourth largest sector in the world. Current laws are not dissuading offenders from committing environmental crimes. A handful of harmful activities continue to go unpunished under the limited old directive. 

The new directive includes more abusive activities, lengthened prison sentences, and much more. Member states can decide whether or not these directives extend to crimes committed by their companies beyond EU borders. In two years, each country's laws must be revised to reflect the new legislation. 

Innovative Company Recycles Leather For Airlines

The interior of an empty airline cabin with rows of what would be white recycled leather seats.

A circular solution for airline seats is on the horizon! In 2024, Gen Phoenix will launch an eco-friendly seat option that uses upcycled leather fibers that would otherwise end up in the landfills.

With the lightweight leathers, airlines can reduce fuel requirements by up to $10,000 per plane, which helps them reach their carbon emissions goals. This sustainable material option also cuts emissions through its durability, lasting up to a decade without the need for replacement. To not compromise the passenger experience, these seats offer a similar performance to new leathers, yet with a reduced environmental impact.

“Gen Phoenix’s recycled material is up to five times more durable due to its innovative manufacturing process, so the upholstery is resistant to wear and tear and requires little on-board maintenance,” said Chief Innovation Officer & General Manager Seating Nico den Ouden. “The interior cabin looks as luxurious as it did on day one.” 

Additionally, the company introduced an antimicrobial option into the market during the COVID pandemic in 2021. Gen Phoenix continues to soar in terms of innovative solutions within and beyond the aviation markets.  

Hawaiian Crow To Be Released Back Into The Wild

The black Hawaiian Crow known as the alala in tropical forest.

Unique to the tropical islands of Hawaii, the Hawaiian crow will be released once more back into the wild to reestablish the birds. The crows, known as alala to the locals, are currently only in conservation breeding programs. The last wild pair of alala were seen in 2002. 

The wild populations disappeared from the islands due to invasive predators, diseases, habitat loss, and other reasons. In 2016, an attempted reintroduction of the captive birds failed on the main island. The io, also the Hawaiian hawk, killed most of the birds. 

This second release will be on Maui – an island without io. Wildlife managers will evaluate their survival and breeding capabilities. These birds eat and disperse seeds that support native plants. This program also hopes that the release will help the recovery of native forests.