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Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice

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    The Brighton Waste House is Britains first house made almost entirely from rubbish, including chalk, coffee cups and lights en route to Bangladesh

    Remember video cassettes, those big black boxes that played pictures? Rendered useless by DVDs, theyve found a new purpose. Some 4,000 of them have built a house, along with two tonnes of denim jeans, 2,000 used carpet tiles and 20,000 toothbrushes.

    The result is Britains first house made almost entirely from rubbish. Based at the University of Brighton, the house opened its doors in June and is a live research project, acting as a test-bed for new windows, solar panels, insulation and construction materials.

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    Massachusetts recently enacted the most aggressive mandatory composting program in history, to affect supermarkets, colleges, nursing homes, and prisons. How are they adapting?

    Americas trash stream is stuffed with squandered food 36m tons of it. According to the federal government, tossed food reaches more landfills and incinerators in America than any other municipal solid waste, and its a problem that Massachusetts officials are taking seriously.

    Starting 1 October, approximately 1,700 of the states biggest food-waste generators think hospitals, colleges, supermarkets, hotels, nursing homes, prisons and other facilities that produce at least one ton of food waste per week must divert it away from landfills.

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    A Halloween party was the unlikely catalyst to the revival in fortunes and community spirit of a street in south Wales

    It all started with a party on a chilly autumnal evening.

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    A community in a deprived area of Wales learned to use recycling projects and street parties to revive neighbourly spirit. Here are some tips for doing the same in your area

    Age: six years

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    Want your own school to use solar panels and be a green energy example to pupils? 10:10s Esther Barlow explains how

    We managed to involve a rather sceptical community, and everybodys sort of joined together, says Sam White. Theres a lot more crossover now between the people in the community and the school Its brought people together.

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    The Skip Sisters go skip-diving en masse, build dolls out of pianos and never let a good piece of rubbish go to waste

    The best thing about skips? You never know what youre going to find, the Skip Sisters tell me about their upcycling, waste-salvaging, eco-arts collective. For the past eight years, the group of five friends has been delving into skips, rummaging through rubbish and looking for potential treasure left on the street. They then get together with their finds and transform them into anything from lamps made from old Bisto tins to cushion covers, cake stands and jewellery.

    Edori, Julia, Pia, Lizzzie and Helen all live within a few streets of each other in south London. Their now grown-up children went to school together, and the women discovered their shared interest in craft at the school gates.

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    Over 50 companies, including Samsung, Dell, Sky and B&Q, have signed up to UK government-backed plan to refurbish and resell unwanted electrical goods

    Consumers will be urged to trade in their unwanted electrical gadgets at retailers in return for cash – with the products to be refurbished and resold – as part of a national initiative unveiled on Tuesday.

    The government-backed plan to improve the disposal of electric waste is supported by 51 companies and organisations including Samsung, Dell, Sky, B&Q, and the owner of Argos and Homebase.

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    Household recycling rates have flatlined at just above 44% for the second year running

    Households appear to have given up trying to recycle more of their rubbish, official statistics suggest, which show that recycling rates in England have stalled.

    Recycling rates flatlined in England last year, rising just 0.1 percentage point on the year before, to 44.2%.

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    Join the experts for an online discussion on Friday 21 November 1.30-2.30pm GMT to explore how to push the circular agenda at a local level

    Local authorities and communities, along with businesses and NGOs, have a huge role to play in challenging and changing the way we think about waste.

    The Green Alliance estimates that there is £1.7bn worth of value to be captured through more joined up recycling. For example, in turning discarded products such as plastics and food waste into new plastic bottles and energy (through anaerobic digestion), and in repairing (rather than discarding) old electronics.

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    Despite a strong business case for recycling scrap steel, uptake has been low. One company in Ecuador is blazing a trail for steel and the circular economy in Latin America

    In the next few decades, as resource scarcity starts to bite, and resource prices steadily climb, mining and metals companies will be forced to shape-shift from primary extractors to secondary recyclers. Necessity, rather than an unexpected attack of conscience, will be the driving force behind this transition to a circular economy. So let’s look at some lessons from the sector most ripe for revolution, namely the steel industry.

    In 2013, world crude steel production totalled 1.6bn tonnes and employed 50 million people, either directly or indirectly. The industry is vocal in its support for sustainable development, claiming that – despite massive growth in demand – the amount of energy required to produce a tonne of steel has been reduced by 50% in the past 30 years.

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    With three men arrested in Tesco and a woman hit by a falling television, there’s a safer more sustainable alternative to Black Friday

    Today, thousands are expected to descend on stores across the UK to snap up Black Friday deals. Visa Europe estimates that UK consumers will spend £360,000 a minute on their credit cards and make 8.5m online transactions.

    Such is the frenzy, Greater Manchester Police have appealed for calm after “disturbances” in seven Tesco shops, in which three men have been arrested and a woman was hit by a falling television.

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    Encouraging oil and gas operators to find ways of reusing assets comes with its own challenges – economics being one of them

    According to the Oil & Gas UK Economic Report 2013 (pdf), in the UK continental shelf – an area of the North Sea with large resources of hydrocarbons – some 475 installations, 10,000km of pipelines, 15 onshore terminals and 5,000 wells will eventually need to be decommissioned. Over the next 25 years, decommissioning costs are forecast to be in the region of £31.5bn. Prioritising smarter end-of-life approaches such as reuse, remanufacture and design for repairability could help to reduce some of this expenditure for a sector under pressure to cut the environmental impacts of its operations.

    In Scotland, moves are under way to capitalise on this. Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) is working with a number of stakeholders to explore how circular economy principles can be applied in this field. Decom North Sea (DNS) is leading on much of this work through facilitating closer co-operation and collaboration between North Sea operators and the decommissioning supply chain.

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    Killing draft laws designed to prevent 58,000 premature deaths and increase recycling would be economic suicide, say MEPs

    EU plans to tackle air pollution that causes tens of thousands of premature deaths and make countries recycle more of their rubbish are to be scrapped, according to leaked documents.

    At risk are a clean air directive designed to reduce the health impacts from air pollution caused by vehicles, industry and power plants, and a waste directive that would set states the target of recycling 70% of waste by 2030.

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    European laws to boost recycling and cut air pollution deaths will be amended rather than scrapped

    The European Commission has stepped back from plans to scrap ambitious waste recycling and air quality targets, following an outcry after they were leaked, but both pieces of legislation will be heavily amended.

    Last week the Guardian reported that a clean air directive designed to reduce the health impacts from air pollution and a waste directive that would set states the target of recycling 70% of waste by 2030 were at risk. But on Tuesday the commission’s vice president Frans Timmermans rowed back on the original plans to axe them.

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    Eleven member states signed letter opposing withdrawal of draft EU law on air quality and waste

    Plans by European policymakers to scrap a draft EU law on air quality and waste send a “negative signal” about Europe’s ambition to curb climate change and governments will challenge them, the Italian environment minister said on Wednesday.

    On Tuesday, the European commission laid out its legislative plans for 2015, saying it would focus on priorities such as jobs and economic growth. At the same time, it planned to withdraw some proposals made by the previous EU executive, including on improving air quality and cutting waste.

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    We look at sustainability via six popular festive stocking fillers

    Ever wondered what the circular economy might look like inside a Christmas stocking? We take a look at six popular festive stocking fillers – from traditional treats to coveted toys – and assess how society might take a more resourceful approach to consumption at this time of year. To what extent could these items be reused, recovered or repurposed to maximise their life?

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    This year’s most-read circular economy stories featured edible water bottles, groceries without the packaging and Scotland’s solution for recycling nappies

    In a recent Guardian Sustainable Business survey, readers identified the circular economy as one of the hottest sustainability topics for 2015. From Scotland to Japan, coffee to shallots, here’s what was most read in 2014. Take this quiz to put your circular economy knowledge to the test and find out what you’ve learned over the last 12 months.

    1. Berlin duo launch a supermarket with no packaging

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    After the gifts are unwrapped and the food is eaten, the holidays often leave us with a lot of trash. Here’s a guide to making sure it all ends up in the right place

    Trash cans routinely overflow during the holiday season, when we generate over 25% more waste than usual. Happily, so do recycling bins: a higher percentage of waste ends up in the blue bins over the holidays than during the rest of the year, says Tom Carpenter, director of sustainability services at Waste Management, North America’s largest waste and recycling company.

    Unfortunately, it’s also increasingly common for the wrong things to end up in those recycling bins, he says.

    “Many people try to do the right thing,” he said. “More people are trying to put everything into the recycling bins. That’s increased the total volume of material we get, but we’re also seeing many bad mistakes – and more of that volume is actually [trash].”

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    An Indian student with a farming background finds a green alternative to burning tons of rice husks and straw by using the waste as housebuilding material

    When Bisman Deu saw her family burning mounds of rice waste at their farm in southern India, she was convinced the material could be put to better use.

    The Delhi student, 16, came up with the idea of recycling the unwanted rice husks and straw into an alternative building material. “I’d go to my family’s farm, where my dad grew up, for the holidays, and see them burning piles and piles of it. The harvesting months are the worst and the black smoke gets quite harmful, causing people to have problems breathing, as well as polluting the environment,” Deu said.

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    The ethical fashion label TraidRemade has collaborated with Percival menswear and Olivia Hegarty on two limited-edition men and women’s collections. Every piece is made in the UK from reclaimed textiles, mainly using pre-consumer waste sources from luxury brands and fashion houses

    Launching at the Percival store, 43 Berwick Street, London, on Thursday 9 October, where it will be available to buy for one night, then online at traidremade.com

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