Best of our wild blogs: 16 Oct 17



An otterly fun time at Chek Jawa!
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs and wild shores of singapore


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Singapore households throw away S$200m worth of food and beverage a year, according to Electrolux's latest survey

PR NEWSWIRE ASIA AsiaOne 16 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE, Oct. 16, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- In conjunction with World Food Day on October 16, 2017, Electrolux Singapore commissioned a survey to highlight the amount of food waste generated in our homes.

The Electrolux Home Food Waste survey reveals that 85 per cent of Singapore households do not consume their food before the indicated date on food packing, contributing to mounting food waste in the city state.

This amounts to some S$170 worth of food and beverage being thrown away by each household a year. Annually, Singapore households trash about S$200 million worth of food and beverage. [1]

According to the National Environment Agency, 791 million kg of food waste was generated in Singapore in 2016. This marked a 41.5 per cent increase over the past decade.

The study is the third edition of Electrolux Singapore's annual #HappyPlateSG community initiative, which started in 2015. Previous years focused on consumption of 'ugly food' and finishing of meals to prevent food wastage.

Mr Douglas Chua, General Manager of Electrolux Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said: "Tackling food waste is the cornerstone of our yearly initiative. This year, our focus is on food in storage, such as pantries and refrigerators. Often, we buy food, store them, but end up forgetting to consume them before their indicated dates on the packaging. This results in their eventual disposal. We want to encourage behavioural change that will allow for greater food sustainability and reduced waste."

The theme for this year is #SeasonYourEx, a short form for Season Your Expiring Food.

This initiative aims to educate, and change consumers' mindsets that expiring and leftover food are not as tasty as fresh food. Expiring and leftover food, from perishables such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, to packaged items such as canned meats and fruits, can still taste as good as the fresh ones when using creative cooking tips and recipes.

Other highlights from the survey which polled 1,000 households:

20 per cent would never consume food if it is passed the indicated date.

Seven out of 10 (72 per cent) could attribute the meanings of 'Best Before', 'Sell By' and 'Expires On', demonstrating knowledge that food passed its indicated date did not necessarily mean it is unfit for consumption.
On attitudes

Majority of the households (84 per cent) were shocked, guilty, sad and angry when confronted with the food waste that Singapore generates.
lt (10 per cent) indifferent about it.

On consumption

Half of the households (48 per cent) would continue eating the item if the taste or texture remained similar to the original
Six in 10 (58 per cent) said they would do so if the items were frozen, vacuum sealed and stored well, and showed no signs of turning bad.

Ms Fiona Chia, Director of nutrition consultancy Health Can Be Fun, said: "Some food that are nearing or have exceeded the indicated date may still be eaten."

"An 'Expires On' date applies if there is a health risk in eating the item after that date. A 'Best Before' date is used as a guide to indicate how long a product can retain its peak quality and freshness. A 'Sell By' date acts as a reference for retailers, to let them know how long an item can be put on display for sale," she added.

Mr Eric Low, Chef-Owner of Lush Epicurean Culinary Consultancy and author of six cook books, said: "Managing food nearing or have passed the indicated date is on a case by case basis. Different categories of food do not deteriorate at the same rate. Storage methods such as optimal temperature, frozen and vacuum sealing also help prolong the food lifespan."

A dedicated microsite happyplate.sg will include tips on reducing food waste, how to be involved, recipe inspirations, "Ask Happy Plate", among others. "Ask Happy Plate" is a new column featuring food experts, chefs and nutritionists, and will answer the public's questions on food management.

There is also a social media component to this initiative. The public is highly encouraged to participate and contribute to greater food waste awareness. Participation will be through two steps:

Post a photo of an expired, or soon to be expired, food or leftover item in your home on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share what you can do with it
Hashtag #SeasonYourEx #HappyPlateSG
For every 5 #hashtags and/or social media shares, Electrolux will fund the costs of running The Food Bank Singapore's van for one day. The van collects donated food items from collection points across Singapore, and distributes them to beneficiaries.

Ms Nichol Ng, Co-founder of non-profit The Food Bank Singapore, said: "Every month, we collect on average 60,000 kg of food and distribute these surpluses to organisations and people in need of food. We hope more people can be onboard this meaningful project so that our van can constantly hit the roads and deliver those foods promptly.

"Everybody has a part to play when it comes to food waste management. Our aim is to have the Food Bank van funded for a year so that more individuals and beneficiaries can continuously benefit from our initiative, which is to allow food access to those in need while reducing food waste – a win-win situation."

The Food Bank Singapore is a non-profit charity which collects and redistributes food to the needy via various channels such as Voluntary Welfare Organisations, Charities, Soup Kitchens etc. It also sells close to expiring food at The Food Pantry at discounted prices. Purchasing these food items will help reduce the food waste Singapore generates.

Notes to Editor:

*According to the National Environment Agency, 791 million kg of food was wasted in Singapore in 2016.

The Electrolux survey was commissioned in September 2017, and polled 1,000 households, representative of the Singapore population aged 18-65 years old. The survey comprised a questionnaire of multiple-choice questions on consumers' understanding of food labels, consumption of food passed the indicated dates on packaging, acceptance towards such food, value of discarded food, and awareness on food waste.

About Electrolux

Electrolux shapes living for the better by reinventing taste, care and wellbeing experiences, making life more enjoyable and sustainable for millions of people. As a leading global appliance company, we place the consumer at the heart of everything we do. Through our brands, including Electrolux, AEG, Anova, Frigidaire, Westinghouse and Zanussi, we sell more than 60 million household and professional products in more than 150 markets every year. In 2016 Electrolux had sales of SEK 121 billion and employed 55,000 people around the world. For more information go to www.electroluxgroup.com

About The Food Bank Singapore Ltd

Established in 2012, The Food Bank Singapore (www.foodbank.sg) is Singapore's first food bank and aims to be the prevailing centralised coordinating organisation for all food donations in Singapore. Its mission is to bridge potential donors and members (beneficiaries). It complements charities' food donation efforts by helping them to obtain better access to excess food. The Food Bank is also looking at finding creative and alternative ways to maximise use of excess food. Besides collecting, storing and distributing donated food, The Food Bank Singapore aspires to be the voice of food resource planning and management, and spread the word on its importance to ensure long term providence of food for everyone.


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More community spaces proposed for car-lite, green 'neighbourhoods of the future'

ALFRED CHUA Today Online 16 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — Car-lite neighbourhoods potentially served by self-driving vehicles that take residents to and from nearby MRT stations. Bigger green spaces and wider sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists. Buildings that are "sensitive" to the natural and built-up landscape.

These are among the features that could define future neighbourhoods in Singapore, starting with three upcoming ones - Bayshore in the east, Holland Plain in the central-west, and Kampong Bugis which is near the city.

Details of the proposals were unveiled on Monday (Oct 16) by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) at the launch of a month-long exhibition at the URA Centre Atrium.

At the heart of the proposals are three broad concepts: Car-lite neighbourhoods that put the people's needs first, vibrant and inviting community spaces that encourage interaction, and the incorporation of environmental features that not only enliven the living spaces but assist in recycling and waste management.

The URA said it wants to encourage greater interaction among residents and the community at large without sacrificing their need for privacy and security. Suggestions to do this include creating a more "open-concept" precinct that makes better use of landscaping, or water features, as natural barriers.

"In all of these new neighbourhoods, we will nurture a stronger sense of community. We want to strengthen the ‘kampung’ spirit in our modern urban habitats," National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in a speech at the opening of the exhibition.

The three new neighbourhoods are slated to have a combined total of about 19,000 private and public housing units. Holland Plain and Kampong Bugis are expected to have private housing, while Bayshore will have a mix of public and private properties.

Greater connectivity to MRT stations will be one common design feature in all three neighbourhoods. "All three upcoming precincts will be within a comfortable 5 to 10-minute walk to one or more MRT stations," said Mr Wong, noting that additional "last-mile connectivity" features will be added as well, such as a new underpass and footbridge to link Kampong Bugis directly to the nearby Kallang and Lavender MRT stations.

The URA intends Kampong Bugis, which will be launched in a year or two's time, to be developed into a car-lite town for residents and families who prefer taking public transport, or walking and cycling.

The lower car dependency in the neighbourhood will likely mean fewer parking spaces, with the land freed up instead for parks and community spaces.

At the precinct, which will be planned and designed by a master developer, car park lot provisions could be adjusted to one lot for every two residential units.

A district-level pneumatic waste conveyance system — a first for a private residential district — has also been proposed. The system can collect waste from all residential units into one central station through a vacuum system.

Meanwhile, Holland Plain estate, which sits adjacent to the rail corridor and is scheduled for a 2021 launch, will feature plenty of green spaces, according to the proposals showcased by the URA. This includes a new wetland park and a large community plain.

There are also proposed plans to widen the neighbourhood's sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists. For instance, the existing 1.5m-wide footpaths on the fringes of Holland Plain could be expanded to 3.5m-wide.

The URA added that new buildings in Holland Plain will be "sensitive" to its surroundings, by taking into account the area's "sloping character", and its proximity to landed housing estates, the Rail corridor, and the park connector along the diversion canal.

For Bayshore, which will be launched after 2024, the URA is looking to turn it into a "future-ready community". Suggestions floated include making it a car-lite neighbourhood, potentially with self-driving vehicles providing residents transportation to and from the two MRT stations that serve the estate.

There would be fewer car park lots, and roads in the estate could be reduced from three to two lanes in order to free up space for community facilities. "The master plan will anticipate changes in technology in phases, providing resiliency to adapt to the changing needs," the URA said.

These proposals will be exhibited on weekdays from Oct 16 to Nov 20. The public is invited to provide feedback on the ideas shown, and can either do so at the exhibition, or online at ura.sg/futurehoods


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Malaysia: Raising a stink over fish farm losses

lo tern chern The Star 16 Oct 17;

NIBONG TEBAL: The state government should pay RM100mil compensation to open sea fish farmers affected by leachate from the Sungai Burung landfill.

South Seberang Prai district village development officer and South Seberang Prai Eco-Tourism Development Association secretary Kuan Hin Yeap (pic) claimed that fish farmers at sea stopped releasing new fish fry after the leachate risk was made public.

Last Wednesday, state Agriculture, Agro-based Industry, Rural Development and Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin visited the leachate ponds and blamed the Federal Government’s Department of Environment for putting the fish cages at risk.

It was reported that Dr Afif said the pollution was “plain to the naked eye” and called on DOE to take immediate steps because it would put the state’s fisheries sector at risk.

Penang, he said, has the second highest number of open sea fish farms after Sabah.

There are 186 open sea fish farms less than 3km from the Pulau Burung landfill shoreline, visible to the left of the island-bound side of the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge.

“After Dr Afif announced the risk of leachate, farmers refrained from releasing new fry.

“The Nibong Tebal Fish Farm Association predicted that if this continues, all 186 farms here will close down within three years.

“They have calculated that the farmers are hoping to obtain a total of RM86.3mil compensation for the damage sustained in the past five years, or RM464,000 per farmer.

“That is not only compensation for wages and diesel loss, but also the cost of fry and feed,” said Kuan.

Kuan expressed disappointment and accused the state of showing a lack of concern over the pollution.


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Penguins die in 'catastrophic' Antarctic breeding season

BBC 13 Oct 17;

All but two Adelie penguin chicks have starved to death in their east Antarctic colony, in a breeding season described as "catastrophic" by experts.

It was caused by unusually high amounts of ice late in the season, meaning adults had to travel further for food.

It is the second bad season in five years after no chicks survived in 2015.

Conservation groups are calling for urgent action on a new marine protection area in the east Antarctic to protect the colony of about 36,000.

WWF says a ban on krill fishing in the area would eliminate their competition and help to secure the survival of Antarctic species, including the Adelie penguins.

WWF have been supporting research with French scientists in the region monitoring penguin numbers since 2010.

The protection proposal will be discussed at a meeting on Monday of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

The Commission is made up of the 25 members and the European Union.

Adelie penguin breeding habits
Adelie penguins are the most southerly breeding bird in the world.
They are found along the Antarctic coast, and breed from October to February
They typically lay two eggs in nests made of stones, and parents take turns to incubate the eggs
Breeding adults may have to travel up to 30-75 miles (50-120 km) to catch food to then regurgitate for their chicks

"This devastating event contrasts with the image that many people might have of penguins," Rod Downie, Head of Polar Programmes at WWF, said.

"The risk of opening up this area to exploratory krill fisheries, which would compete with the Adelie penguins for food as they recover from two catastrophic breeding failures in four years, is unthinkable.

"So CCAMLR needs to act now by adopting a new Marine Protected Area for the waters off east Antarctica, to protect the home of the penguins."


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Best of our wild blogs: 15 Oct 17



Night Walk At Windsor Nature Park (13 Oct 2017)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Favourite Nectaring Plants #14
Butterflies of Singapore

Fan-bellied Filefish (Monacanthus chinensis) @ Coney Island (Pulau Serangoon)
Monday Morgue


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Every condo block to have a recycling bin

SIAU MING EN Today Online 14 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — To get more households to recycle that extra milk carton or plastic bag, all condominiums will be required to provide a recycling bin for every block from August next year.

More than half of the respondents in the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) customer satisfaction survey said they preferred to have a recycling bin at their block instead of only one common bin for the whole estate, the agency told TODAY.

“Over the years, NEA has received feedback from residents that they were not able to locate the recycling bins or that there were insufficient recycling bins within their estates,” a spokesperson said.

He added: “NEA is therefore making it a requirement for condominium managements to provide one recycling bin per block from 1 August 2018.”

In a similar move in 2011, the NEA required public waste collectors to provide a blue recycling bin at every Housing and Development Board block. Its full rollout took about three years.

Before that, five blocks shared a recycling bin. Since 2008, all condominiums and private high-rise apartments have been required to provide recycling receptacles — such as bins or bags — for paper, plastics, cans and glass.

With the new requirement, condo managements of some 3,000 developments here must submit a declaration of compliance to NEA, who will conduct follow-up inspections, the spokesperson said.

Domestic recycling rates inched up from 19 to 21 per cent between 2015 and last year but is still a far cry from the target of 30 per cent by 2030, as set out in the 2015 Sustainable Singapore Blueprint.

While the additional bins would encourage more residents to recycle, they may target those who are already keen, said Associate Professor Tong Yen Wah of the National University of Singapore’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

“It’s a matter of convenience,” he said.

The bins could also get more people to start thinking about recycling, added Assoc Prof Tong.

Apart from providing the infrastructure, there should be more educational outreach on recycling, said Mr Eugene Tay, executive director of Zero Waste SG, a non-profit.

Domestic recycling rates have remained quite low despite the presence of a National Recycling Programme since 2001, he added.

But NEA said the household participation rate of the National Recycling Programme was more than 70 per cent last year.

In April last year, Senior Minister of State for Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said about 30 to 50 per cent of materials thrown into the recycling bins were not suitable for recycling.

A study conducted by Assoc Prof Tong’s student found that recycling rates among some 1,000 residents significantly improved after outreach efforts by non-governmental organisations.

A resident of Kovana condominium who only wanted to be known as Ms Ling, 27, said she would recycle more often if there were bins at her block.

“There is no easy way to (recycle)… If there’s a blue bin where I can put my paper waste, then it’s much more convenient and I’ll definitely do it,” said the student.

Ms Ling prefers having a common recycling bin that would not require residents to sort their recyclables. “(Common recycling bins entail) just one extra step, but if I have to conscientiously sort them out every day, then it’ll be too (troublesome and involve more steps) and I won’t do it,” she said.

Others like engineer Angeline Lee, 24, who already recycles regularly, said more incentives, such as supermarket rebates, could encourage more people to pick up the habit.

Ms Lee began sorting her waste after studying in Norway two years ago. She now throws paper and plastic waste into their respective bins at her block in Jewel@Buangkok.

She avoids the common recycling chute provided at her condominium after once seeing it used for normal waste disposal, when the usual chute was full.

“That made me think, how exactly do they collect that (recyclable) waste?” she said.


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Malaysia: With production plummeting, cockles no longer cheap seafood indulgence

MAHAIZURA ABD MALIK New Straits Times 14 Oct 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: The cockle, once considered cheap seafood, is now labelled “rich people’s delicacy”, as its price has skyrocketed over the years.

Malaysian Fisheries Department Planning and Development Research Officer Dr Alias Man agrees that there has been a sharp increase in the price of cockle, which is due to declining production nationwide.

"Our study shows that water quality plays an important role in breeding cockles. If there is pollution, it will affect production, and cockles (are vulnerable to pollution and) will die quickly,” he said.

According to him, several management plans are being drafted and will be implemented in the near future to address the problem of polluted water.

"In addition to keeping cockle breeds for seeding purposes, we need a nationwide study on various aspects of production to identify why shellfish cannot be produced (in the amount they were) before.

"For me, this is likely related to genetic problems, where the seeds are no longer suitable for the present environment, and we need to look for or develop new breeds that have better durability for our environment," he said.

Dr Alias said that for the time being, breeders are advised to reduce the rate of seed distribution to minimise losses.

"Declining production leads to high demand from customers, which in turn leads to the cockle being sold expensively in the market," he said.

Meanwhile, a Harian Metro survey of markets, retail outlets and supermarkets around Sentul and Selayang found that few traders are selling cockles – and those that trade in cockles sell them at high prices.

There were a handful of traders selling grade C cockles at RM9 per kilogram (kg) to RM14/kg, while peeled cockles are sold at RM20 per kg to RM26.90 per kg.

At the Selayang Wholesale Market, the supply is quite easily available at RM3 for grade C, RM7 to RM8 (grade B) and RM10 to RM12 (grade A).

A dealer who declined to be named said that he deals with suppliers in Kuala Selangor, but in quantities smaller than ever before.

"Every day, we only take about 50kg. Sometimes, it is not sold, because the price is very expensive," he added.


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Malaysia: Survey finds number of Sunda clouded leopards dwindling in Sabah

KRISTY INUS New Straits Times 15 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: A six-year camera-trap survey at eight protected areas in Sabah has led to a worrying discovery.

Based on a report compiled from the survey, researchers estimated there are around 750 Sunda clouded leopards in the State.

The study was recently published in the scientific journal Oryx, according to a joint press release from Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), United Kingdom's WildCRU and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC).

The study also found that changes to Sabah's forest landscape may be affecting the wild cats.

"Led by WildCRU researchers in collaboration with partners from SWD, DGFC , Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Panthera, the study provided first evidence that population density of this species is negatively affected by hunting pressure and forest fragmentation.

"We found poaching activity evidence in all forest areas with the lowest detection rates being in Danum and the highest in Kinabatangan," said WildCRU's Andrew Hearn, the first author of the paper.

DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said it is hoped the results of the study coupled with the action plan for Sunda clouded leopard currently drafted and scheduled to be launched early next year, will help manage the species in Sabah's forests.

"The fact that selectively logged forests provide an important resource for Sunda clouded leopards, suggests that appropriate management of these commercial forests could further enhance their conservation value.

"But the overriding priority for our wildlife managers is to reduce poaching pressure by reducing access to the forest interior along logging roads and by increasing enforcement patrols at strategic areas,” concluded Goossens.


Fewer than 800 Sunda clouded leopards in Sabah
The Star 16 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sunda clouded leopard is becoming the target of poachers, with a study by the Oxford University showing there are fewer than 800 animals left in Sabah.

The study by the Wildlife Con­ser­vation Research Unit (WildCRU) from Oxford University showed the number of these wild cats are dwindling.

WildCRU’s Dr Andrew Hearn said they had evidence that poaching activities and deforestation were affecting the population of these leopards.

“We found evidence of poaching activities with the lowest detection rates in Danum and the highest in Kinabatangan.

He said they conducted intensive camera-trap surveys at eight protected areas in Sabah and individual animals were identified based on the cloud-shaped markings on their coat and the morphology.

He said the study also showed that there were huge differences in the population, with more of these animals in areas with less forest activities.

The study was carried out in collaboration with Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Danau Girang Field Centre, Sabah Wildlife Department and Panthera, a conservation group.

Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goossens said the fact that selectively logged forests provided an important resource for the leopards suggested that appropriate management of these commercial forests could further enhance their conservation value.

“But the overriding priority for our wildlife managers is to reduce poaching pressure – by reducing access to the forest interior along logging roads and by increasing enforcement patrols at strategic areas,” he said.

He said he hopes that the results of the study – together with the action plan for the leopard that is currently being drafted and which should be launched by early next year – would help manage the species in Sabah.


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Attenborough urges action on plastic

David Attenborough says for the first time in the history of humanity, one species has the future of the world in the palm of its hands.
Francesca Gosling, Press Association news.com.au 15 Oct 17;

David Attenborough has urged the world to cut down on the use of plastic by "tomorrow" to curb the danger it poses to the world's oceans.

The much-loved TV nature expert told how filming the second Blue Planet series showed him the threat that plastic causes to the underwater environment.

His comments came as he attended a Q&A about the show ahead of its broadcast on the BBC later this month, 15 years after the original series.

Asked what concerned him the most about the crew's findings, the 91-year old said rising sea temperatures and plastic in the ocean.

"Now what we're going to do about 1.5 degrees rise in the temperature of the ocean over the next 10 years, I don't know, but we could actually do something about plastic right now. And I just wish we would," he said on Saturday.

"The albatross parent has been away for three weeks gathering stuff for her young and what comes out? What does she give her chick? You think it's going to be squid, but it's plastic. And the chick is going to starve and die.

"But we could do things about plastic internationally tomorrow. We have a responsibility. Every one of us."

"It is one world. And it's in our care. For the first time in the history of humanity, for the first time in 500 million years, one species has the future in the palm of its hands. I just hope he realises that that is the case."

The program was filmed all over the world, in locations such as Australia, South Africa, Egypt, Mexico, Japan and Norway.


Sir David Attenborough on the problem that concerns him the most
AHEAD of the release of his new series, Sir David Attenborough has revealed the environmental issue that concerns him most — and it’s not climate change.
News.com.au 15 Oct 17;

SIR DAVID Attenborough has urged the world to cut down on the use of plastic by “tomorrow” to curb the danger it poses to the world’s oceans.

The much-loved TV nature expert told how filming the second Blue Planet series showed him the threat that plastic causes to the underwater environment.

His comments came as he attended a Q & A about the show ahead of its broadcast on the BBC later this month, 15 years after the original series.

Asked what concerned him the most about the crew’s findings, the 91-year old said rising sea temperatures and plastic in the ocean.

“Now what we’re going to do about 1.5 degrees rise in the temperature of the ocean over the next 10 years, I don’t know, but we could actually do something about plastic right now. And I just wish we would,” he said on Saturday.

“The albatross parent has been away for three weeks gathering stuff for her young and what comes out? What does she give her chick? You think it’s going to be squid, but it’s plastic. And the chick is going to starve and die.

“But we could do things about plastic internationally tomorrow. We have a responsibility. Every one of us.”

“It is one world. And it’s in our care. For the first time in the history of humanity, for the first time in 500 million years, one species has the future in the palm of its hands. I just hope he realises that that is the case.”

The program was filmed all over the world, in locations such as Australia, South Africa, Egypt, Mexico, Japan and Norway.

David Attenborough urges action on plastics after filming Blue Planet II
Naturalist says experience making second series of BBC show revealed devastating threat posed to oceans by plastic
Graham Ruddick The Guardian 15 Oct 17;

Sir David Attenborough has called for the world to cut back on its use of plastic in order to protect oceans. His new BBC TV series, Blue Planet II, is to demonstrate the damage the material is causing to marine life.

Speaking at the launch of Blue Planet II, which will be broadcast 16 years after the original series, the broadcaster and naturalist said action on plastics should be taken immediately and that humanity held the future of the planet “in the palm of its hands”.

His comments come amid growing global calls for cutbacks in the use of plastic. Last week, the former boss of Asda, Andy Clarke, said supermarkets should stop using plastic packaging.

A Guardian investigation established that consumers around the world buy a million plastic bottles a minute. Plastic production is set to double in the next 20 years and quadruple by 2050. Around the world, more than 8m tonnes of plastic leaks into the oceans, and a recent study found that billions of people globally are drinking water contaminated by plastic.

Blue Planet II will include evidence that plastic has flowed into ocean waters thousands of miles from land, and will show albatrosses unwittingly feeding their chicks plastic.

The new series of Blue Planet has seven episodes and is expected to be a global hit for the BBC. The programme has already been sold to more than 30 countries and the first episode will air on BBC One on Sunday 29 October.

Attenborough said rising global temperatures and plastic were the biggest concerns for the ocean. “What we’re going to do about 1.5 degrees rise in the temperature of the ocean over the next 10 years, I don’t know, but we could actually do something about plastic right now,” he said.

“I just wish we would. There are so many sequences that every single one of us have been involved in – even in the most peripheral way – where we have seen tragedies happen because of the plastic in the ocean.

“We’ve seen albatrosses come back with their belly full of food for their young and nothing in it. The albatross parent has been away for three weeks gathering stuff for her young and what comes out? What does she give her chick? You think it’s going to be squid, but it’s plastic. The chick is going to starve and die.

“There are more examples of that. But we could do things about plastic internationally tomorrow.”

Attenborough, 91, did not specify what could be done, but cutting back on plastic packaging and plastic bags in supermarkets would be a major step.

He said everyone’s actions had an impact on the ocean. “We have a responsibility, every one of us,” he said. “We may think we live a long way from the oceans, but we don’t. What we actually do here, and in the middle of Asia and wherever, has a direct effect on the oceans – and what the oceans do then reflects back on us.”


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Singapore foots high costs for preserving 'last kampong' at Pulau Ubin

City-state keeps island haven Pulau Ubin untouched, while importing resources from neighbors
SIMON ROUGHNEEN, Nikkei Asian Review 13 Oct 17;

PULAU UBIN, Singapore -- It takes no more than 15 minutes to make the eastward crossing on a juddery old bumboat from Changi Jetty on Singapore's main island to Pulau Ubin, where gray-barked pulai trees stretch skyward, their pillar-straight trunks evoking the slate and glossy office towers that crowd the Singapore skyline.

The 1,020-hectare boomerang-shaped Pulau Ubin is "the last kampong," or village, and "a living showcase of what Singapore was like in the 1960s," according to Visit Singapore, part of the country's official tourist board.

Not surprisingly for a place advertised as such, the short boat trip across the narrow strait aims to take visitors back a half century. Pulau Ubin, or Granite Island, is a preservationist's pearl -- a verdant throwback to the preindustrial, preurban way of life still to be found here and there in rural Malaysia and Indonesia. Those old ways are otherwise history in Singapore, where 5.6 million people are jammed onto a mere 720 sq. km. of land area.

One of the first things visitors to Pulau Ubin see after hopping off the bumboat is a row of bicycle rental shops. Pedaling is the best way to see enough of the island in a day, before the last ferry heads back to Changi around sundown.

Water, maybe some insect repellent, a small towel and, depending on the season, an umbrella -- these can be dropped into the carrier basket on the front of the bike as a hedge against the heat, humidity and persistent mosquitoes -- are all a day-tripper needs. If you are planning an overnight stay, bring a tent and head to either one of the two designated campsites -- after dropping into the island's police post to let the authorities know you will be staying until morning.

The contrast between Pulau Ubin's muggy senescence and the busy orderliness of Singapore has become the small island's raison d'etre. Plans to develop part of the island in the early 2000s -- shortly after the last granite mine closed -- were halted when it was discovered that Pulau Ubin featured a 100-hectare wetland called Chek Jawa that was teeming with wildlife. The Singaporean government said it wanted to keep Pulau Ubin in its current rustic state for as long as possible.

So instead of turning Pulau Ubin into a replica of the Singapore mainland, a viewing tower and a kilometer-long boardwalk were built around the wetland, allowing visitors to peer above and amble through the biodiverse mangroves. There, mudskippers and fiddler crabs scuttle through the sodden undergrowth, while hawks and eagles circle above, eyes down for a meal darting along the shore.

Above the wetland stand two beacons that light the way for vast cargo ships making their way past Pulau Ubin to the Strait of Johor or the Strait of Malacca. The vessels -- stacked high with containers as vivid in their own way as the flamboyant flowers and butterflies fluttering around the Pulau Ubin foliage -- are a reminder that "Ubin," as it is called for short, is part of a trading hub with the ninth-highest gross domestic product per capita in the world.

And if the ships are not emphatic enough of a reminder that Singapore is a thriving entrepot and home to the world's second-busiest port, every two minutes there is the encroaching whirr of passenger jets swooping down over the southern tip of peninsular Malaysia, dropping low past Pulau Ubin and onto the Changi Airport runway across the water.

Most of Pulau Ubin's attractions are within a 15- to 30-minute cycle ride of each other, linked by well-kept paths with frequent warnings to slow down and mirrors mounted above bends. Some of the precautions -- such as signs telling cyclists to dismount and walk downhill -- have a slightly nannyish air, however, given that most traffic is either pedestrian or two-wheeled, and tends to move at a pace suited to appreciating the profusely-green surroundings, dotted with the yellows and pinks and azures of the flowers that sprout here and there.

Around the island there are other echoes of Singapore's regimen, such as the ubiquitous No Smoking signs at the rain shelters on the island's paths. Despite Pulau Ubin's novel allure and lush scenery, it does feel that the Singapore's Last Rustic Redoubt Old Kampong vibe is a bit forced, even indulgent. It is the environmentalist's equivalent of a well-to-do hipster opting for an old-style fixed-gear bicycle -- a common affectation in recent years -- rather than zipping along on a sleek, state-of-the-art road or mountain bike.

It is worth remembering that Singapore's land area has been extended by 20% since the founding of the state in 1965, mostly by using sand dredged from beaches and rivers in neighboring countries, sometimes undermining ecosystems and disrupting livelihoods for fishermen. Indeed, Singapore's government said as far back as 2002 that it would not carry out any reclamation work around Pulau Ubin itself, dismissing concerns that it wanted to extend the small island's land area with more overseas sand.

But is it fair that Singapore refuses to build on Pulau Ubin when the alternative is to add to its land area elsewhere by acquiring sand dug up from beaches and rivers in Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia?

Environmental damage wrought by the sand trade led Indonesia and Malaysia to ban the sale of sand to the city-state. Singapore's sand trade with Cambodia, more recently the main source for reclamation work, has been tainted by large and unexplained discrepancies.

Cambodia's Ministry of Mines and Energy has said that 16.2 million tons of sand was exported to Singapore from 2008 to 2016, while Singaporean government statistics show that the city-state imported 70 million tons of sand from Cambodia over the same time period. Previously the Singaporean Ministry of National Development told the Nikkei Asian Review that "the figures reported by various parties and countries are dependent on their own calculation formulas, which we are not privy to."

For all of Pulau Ubin's accessible yet "get-away-from-it-all" charm, there is some irony in the undeniably stellar conservation work undertaken there: it has, in the end, been sustained partly at the expense of environments abroad.


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Legislation is ‘no silver bullet’ in nurturing green consumers, says NTUC Fairprice CEO

Amid debate over plastic bag surcharge, speakers at ethical consumerism forum say education efforts must continue
KELLY NG Today Online 13 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — Charging for single-use plastic bags may not permanently cut demand for them, said corporate leaders and the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) on Friday (Oct 13) amidst ongoing debate on whether supermarkets should impose a fee on consumers.

A levy may lead to undesirable consequences such as more unbagged trash and the public could get used to paying for the plastic bags, causing usage to increase after an initial decline, they cautioned at a conference on ethical consumerism.

Plastic waste has become a massive problem worldwide and environmentalists here have called for measures to curb excessive use of plastic bags, which can end up in waterways and choke marine life.

Singapore generated 824,600 tonnes of plastic waste in 2015, of which 7 per cent was recycled.

Last month, The Straits Times reported that the four main supermarket chains here — NTUC FairPrice, Dairy Farm Group, Prime Supermarket and Sheng Siong — were in talks on whether to implement a plastic bag surcharge.

If an agreement is reached, shoppers at these supermarkets can expect to start paying between five to 10 cents for plastic bags by the middle of next year.

NTUC FairPrice chief executive Seah Kian Peng said he had not personally been part of the talks on charging for plastic bags. “I do not want to consider this as a first resort. I prefer to continue to advocate and encourage shoppers to reduce their use of plastic bags, also to encourage them to bring their reusable bags,” he told TODAY after giving a keynote address at the SEC’s conference.

“I am also concerned about the impact of such surcharges to working families, especially low-income households.”

Legislation is not a silver bullet and charging for plastic bags could result in downstream problems such as individuals throwing unbagged trash down the rubbish chute, he said.

“We all need some plastic bags but all of us can certainly cut down and reduce the use of plastic bags,” he added. FairPrice offers a 10-cent discount to shoppers who bring their own bags and make a minimum purchase of S$10.

Several countries in Asia that legislated a charge on plastic bags have seen mixed results.

According to Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration, plastic bag usage dropped 80 per cent a year after a levy (S$0.05 to S$0.14) was introduced in 2002 but rebounded subsequently.

“People got used to paying (for the plastic bags). The (bag fee) does not fix the hearts and minds of people. The solution is not about charging,” SEC chairman Isabella Loh told reporters at the sidelines of the conference.

More than 40 countries, including China, France and Rwanda, have taxed, limited or banned plastic bags. The European Union wants to halve plastic-bag usage by 2019, and further slash usage to 40 bags a year per person at the end of 2025.

In August, Kenya banned the sale of plastic garbage bags. Manufacturers and importers of plastic bags now face fines of up to US$38,000 (S$51,300) or being jailed up to four years, while shoppers risk having their bags confiscated.

Ms Loh said other types of waste – such as plastic bottles and paper receipts – should also be reduced and added consumer education must continue.

“Back in the 1970s, plastic was hailed as an important technology, but it has outlived its usefulness…We must ensure that the community understands why (reducing use) is good for us,” she said.

The SEC has partnered consulting and audit firm Deloitte to study corporates’ and individuals’ plastic consumption patterns. Ms Loh did not share further details on the study, which is expected to complete by the end of this year.

The SEC will launch an app by the end of the year for users to track their carbon footprint.

About 300 corporate representatives, community leaders and students attended the conference at Regent Hotel, where SEC’s annual Singapore Environment Achievement Awards was also held. Award recipients included shipping and logistics firm Orient Overseas Container Line, clean energy solutions provider Sunseap Group, Dunman High School, Northwest Community Development Council, and the Housing and Development Board.


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