A plastic-eating fungus is discovered in a rubbish dump, London becomes the world’s first city to use hydrogen-powered double-decker buses, Notre Dame’s new roof could power parts of Paris, anti-Barclays bank protests go global and Ecology Building society re-opens its 90 day savings account to new applications. Lori Campbell rounds up the top sustainable stories of the week.
A fungus that ‘eats’ plastic discovered in rubbish dump
A fungus that feeds on plastic has been discovered by researchers in a rubbish dump.
The fungus Cue Aspergillus tubingensis, found by a team of Chinese scientists in Pakistan, has the ability to break down plastic naturally. The process happens in just a few weeks rather than the decades it usually takes for plastic to naturally disintegrate.
The discovery was revealed in the world’s first ever ‘Report on the State of the World’s Fungi, compiled by Kew Gardens and a team of over 100 scientists from 18 countries. It says: “This ability has the potential to be developed into one of the tools desperately needed to address the growing environmental problem of plastic waste.”
Lab tests have found that the fungi digests its food by secreting enzymes and absorbing the dissolved organic matter back into cells.
London gets world’s first hydrogen double-decker buses to fight air pollution
London is to become the world’s first city to have double-decker buses powered by hydrogen.
Transport for London (TfL) has unveiled the newest bus to be added to its fleet: a £500,000 hydrogen model which only emits water as exhaust. Twenty of the new buses have been ordered by TfL and will begin service on the capital’s streets next year.
Although hydrogen-fuelled single-decker buses have been running in London and cities elsewhere for years, TfL said the new double-deckers will be a world first.
As well as producing zero emissions, the buses, which are being manufactured by Northern Irish firm Wrightbus, will also include USB charging points for customers.
Meanwhile, Dyson patents have revealed its plans for an electric car with off-road potential. The innovative vehicle, being designed in England, is due to go on sale in 2021.
Notre Dame’s new roof could power parts of Paris
Notre Dame Cathedral could be fitted with a new roof that harnesses solar energy to provide enough energy to power parts of Paris.
Made up of diamond-shaped glass panels propped up with laminated wooden beams, the design by Vincent Callebaut Architectures would turn the iconic landmark into an energy-positive building.
The panels would store solar power in hydrogen fuel cells. As more than enough energy would be stored to power the Cathedral, the Paris-based firm says the excess could be channelled to nearby buildings.
The roof would also house a garden which would provide fruit and vegetables for the city’s poor and homeless.
It is one of a number of designs submitted after the French government announced an international competition to design a new roof after the old, timber roof was burnt down in the devastating fire.
Barclays Bank fossil fuel funding protests spread worldwide
A UK-based campaign to pressure Barclays into stopping its multi-billion pound funding of fossil fuel corporations is to spread worldwide.
In the civil disobedience protests, organised by grassroots Labour group Momentum and activists from People and Planet, campaigners disrupted business at 40 Barclays branches across the UK in March.
It has now organised the next round of peaceful protests at more than 60 branches of the bank – including sites in Germany, the US and Canada.
The campaign is backed by the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, who last week joined a conference call of more than 200 organisers from 10 different countries.
Ecology Building Society re-opens ethical savings account
Ecology Building Society has reopened its 90 day notice savings account for new applications.
The 90-Day Notice savings account is tiered and pays a variable interest rate of 1 per cent to 1.45 per cent gross p.a./AER depending on the account balance. The minimum amount needed to open the account is £500 and the maximum investment is £75,000.
The Society’s members can be confident that the money they save with Ecology helps support projects that have a positive environmental and social impact.