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

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    Join experts on this page on Tuesday 12 April 4-5pm BST to discuss the tech innovations with the potential to revolutionise fashion

    Technology is revolutionising the way we use and relate to clothes. Last year, Google and Levi’s announced they were partnering on Project Jacquard to develop a fabric that can send commands to your smartphone via gestures like tapping or swiping. Ralph Lauren already offers a t shirt for a cool $295 (£210) that sends workout data to an iPhone, and Lady Gaga has brought 3D printing to the red carpet.

    But beyond the super hi-tech, others are working on merging technology and fashion to address environmental concerns.

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    Research indicates up to half of all EU countries could fall short of this year’s target to recycle 45% of waste batteries

    The directive forces manufacturers to cut their use of the most toxic battery ingredients, such as mercury and cadmium.

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    Water board aims to provide model of sustainability by collecting byproduct when orange-clad revellers take the pils

    It is a process as natural as it is inevitable: the consumption of large quantities of beer leads to the production of large quantities of another amber liquid.

    But when up 1.5 million ale-fuelled revellers take to the streets and canals of Amsterdam on Wednesday for the city’s annual King’s Day celebrations, the local water board does not intend to let it go to waste.

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    I’ll admit it, I didn’t read the small print. So I almost paid the price when a £26 offer was cut by more than two-thirds

    I’m an idiot, I don’t mind admitting it. In a fit of stupidity, and only seeing pounds signs, I was lured in by flashy marketing and failed to read the small print when looking to make some extra cash. I sent off an old mobile phone to a gadget recycling company without checking its credentials or terms of business – and it nearly cost me dear.

    RapidRecycle.co.uk, part of Goodbye Gadgets, quoted me £26.75 for my old Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini. It was in full working order with only one or two scratches and chips. There were three options when describing it: new, working and faulty. I picked working. “Super prices! We pay what we quote,” the website boasts. “Don’t trust other recyclers with their overinflated prices. Rapid Recycle will only give you the best!”

    I had the option to decline, but – and here’s the real sting in the tail – I’d have to pay £7.99 to get my phone back

    Some faults such as screen burn and pixel damage can be innocently overlooked by the seller

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    The Bio-bean start-up recycles waste coffee grounds into biomass fuel pellets and coals that can fire up both boilers and BBQs

    While the distinctive smell of a barbecue may herald the first sign of summer, it is not often associated with energy efficiency.

    That may be about to change with the launch of a new type of barbecue coal called Hot Coffees, which hails from waste coffee grounds.

    Related: The innovators: micro micro-breweries causing a froth

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    National wellbeing snapshot covering period as UK shrugged off financial crisis finds improvements in 17 of its measures

    Recovery from the deepest recession in Britain’s post-war history has left Britons healthier, better off, less likely to be victims of crime and living greener lives, according to the latest official snapshot of national wellbeing.

    Life expectancy and living standards rose while unemployment fell during a three-year period from 2012-14, a time when the UK finally shrugged off the after effects of the financial crisis that began in 2007.

    Related: Austerity is making people physically sick | Dawn Foster

    Related: I wanted a new kind of mental health support group – we meet in the pub | Jessica Spires

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    The Bio-bean start-up recycles waste coffee grounds into biomass fuel pellets and coals that can fire up both boilers and BBQs

    While the distinctive smell of a barbecue may herald the first sign of summer, it is not often associated with energy efficiency.

    That may be about to change with the launch of a new type of barbecue coal called Hot Coffees, which hails from waste coffee grounds.

    Related: The innovators: micro micro-breweries causing a froth

    Continue reading...

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    National wellbeing snapshot covering period as UK shrugged off financial crisis finds improvements in 17 of its measures

    Recovery from the deepest recession in Britain’s post-war history has left Britons healthier, better off, less likely to be victims of crime and living greener lives, according to the latest official snapshot of national wellbeing.

    Life expectancy and living standards rose while unemployment fell during a three-year period from 2012-14, a time when the UK finally shrugged off the after effects of the financial crisis that began in 2007.

    Related: Austerity is making people physically sick | Dawn Foster

    Related: I wanted a new kind of mental health support group – we meet in the pub | Jessica Spires

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    From selling clothes with a 30 year guarantee to touring Europe in a repair shop - these brands are advancing the circular economy within fashion

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    A raft of apps are aiming to recycle cosmetically challenged perishables and stop £5bn worth of food ending up in landfill

    Where most people see a bruised banana, Saasha Celestial-One and Tessa Cook see a chance to share. Their new app, Olio, allows greengrocers, cafes, restaurants and neighbours to photograph and post food that is surplus, unappealing or close to expiry; other app users then request it and are notified where to pick it up.

    According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation, a third of all food is wasted, and more than half of that never reaches consumers.

    Related: Digital has changed the fabric of UK fashion

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    Most of us ignore our environmental responsibilities in the workplace, research suggests. We asked you to share your experiences – and this is what you told us

    My workplace removed individual waste bins, to encourage people to think more about where they put their waste. All this has done is breed a surprising resentment and apathy. By the time I’ve walked the five yards to the bin, I can rarely bring myself to think about which very specific receptacle (policed by an A4 side of dos and don’ts) the rubbish goes in, let alone care.
    Catherine, London

    I think ppl are detatched from their responsibilities when at work, "it's work's rubbish, not mine" perhaps? https://t.co/BCHiOLkaWE

    Related: 'I just can't be bothered': why people are greener at home than in the office

    @GuardianSustBiz some of it is influenced by peers. I make it a point of pride to carry travel mug while co-workers opt for takeout cups

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    There are £2.7bn worth of unworn garments in Britain’s wardrobes. One writer calculates how much the items she rarely wears could raise for charity

    Wake up. Remove dog from head. Ponder 100+ items of clothing in drawers so overstuffed they no longer close properly. Feel defeated by this cluttered life. Then rub face against vintage silk kimono, purchased on impulse in a charity shop on Orkney. Perk up. Put on same jeans as day before but with different top. Done.

    This is my morning routine, and according to research by Marks & Spencer and Oxfam, I’m not the only one building up a collection of clothes I will never put on. The research, which polled 2,000 wardrobes for the “Shwopping” campaign to recycle clothes for charity, found £2.7bn worth of unworn items stored throughout Britain. All those stacks of identical Gap jeans are eating into our time, too: women spend an average of 17 minutes each morning, or four days a year, deciding what to wear (for men it’s 13 minutes).

    Related: Top 5 charity shop finds: From Thom Yorke lyrics to Mozart scores

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  • 06/07/16--08:50: Mike Croxford obituary
  • My lifelong friend and colleague Mike Croxford, who has died aged 71, was a pioneer of recycling in his native Wales. The Welsh government’s current recycling performance – at 60% it is fourth in Europe – owes much to Mike, who was a founder member of the Zero Waste movement worldwide and of the Zero Waste International Trust.

    His interest in recycling began in 1980, while running the Augusta Street youth project in Cardiff. The young people started collecting newspapers to improve their standing among local people and to fundraise to run events for the community. The project turned into the Community Support Anti-Waste Scheme (CSAWS) that in 1986 initiated the first citywide collection scheme in the UK.

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    Nescafé’s one-use cups are aimed at busy commuters who want cheap on-the-go coffee, but we already have reusable cups for that

    Nestlé has made it possible to skip the queues and make coffee-to-go in the comfort of your own kitchen. For £4.30 you can buy a box of four disposable coffee cups, pre-filled with a mix of instant coffee and ground coffee sealed under some tin foil.

    It’s an invention surely up there with the equally necessary egg cube (because oval eggs are so 2010) and the banana slicer (because knives just don’t cut it anymore.)

    Nescafé’s to-go cups go against any effort to shift people over to reusables by inventing another throw-away alternative

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    In many parts of the US, it now costs more to recycle old plastic than to make new products. So what are the alternatives for getting rid of our waste?

    It’s been a tough year for plastic recycling, and the culprit is oil.

    Over the past two years, petroleum prices have plummeted, at one point dropping to 70% below June 2014 levels. As prices have fallen, they’ve dragged down the cost of virgin plastic, which is made from oil. In many areas, it now costs more to recycle old plastic than to make new containers.

    Related: Three ways we will build the cities of the future from waste

    Related: US may be drastically underestimating landfill emissions – study

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    An Australian startup has found a way to transform end-of-life plastics into bio-crude fuel. But is this a sustainable solution or just pollution displacement?

    At first glance, the polystyrene container buried amid the beach detritus was unremarkable. Closer inspection however yielded something jarring about this discarded filet-o-fish box. Discovered by locals cleaning up in the wake of a storm last month on a South Australian beach, the polystyrene-based clamshell container bore a stylistically-dated design and logo, yet the packaging itself appeared as good as new.

    It wasn’t new – McDonald’s stopped using such containers in 1991, so it had drifted in the Gulf St Vincent and beyond or lain buried within sand dunes for at least two-and-a-half decades.

    Related: Australian biofuels could transform airline industry and create jobs

    Related: Australia's defence force could run on sugar cane and tyres under biofuel plan

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    In the 1990s almost all rubbish in the UK went to landfill. Today nearly half of household waste is recycled, thanks to EU legislation

    We recycle and compost far more in Britain today than at the turn of the millennium.

    Recycling targets come from Europe, and are the result of decades of directives from Brussels to reduce the environmental harm from our rubbish.

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    Recycling plastic costs councils – and us – millions every year. It’s time refilling old bottles hit the mainstream

    While Boris Johnson is busy reducing the size of Europe, his father, Stanley, is appealing to Europe to help us reduce the amount of rubbish we create.

    This month, Environmentalists for Europe, the cross-party group co-chaired by Johnson senior, called on the EU to ban non-returnable bottles. Instead, the group said, consumers should be charged a 20p deposit, refundable when they take back the bottle. Or we should make all plastic bottles refillable.

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    An egg mayonnaise supplier has partnered with scientists at Leicester University to turns leftover eggshells into a filler for plastics

    Leicester-based egg processing plant Just Egg hard boils and peels 1.5m eggs a week for snacks such as egg mayonnaise and Scotch eggs, creating mountains of shells to dispose of. It’s a dilemma the company’s owner, Pankaj Pancholi, has been keen to crack since he launched the business 14 years ago.

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