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Blogs and articles written by Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) and Registered Environmental Technician (REnvTech) registrants, as well as Honorary Fellows of the Society (HonFSE).

 

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CEnv Registration – What it Means to One ICE Member

Posted By Phil Underwood, 08 August 2017

Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) member Kate Cairns CEnv is an Independent Sustainability Advisor based in the North East of England. She was awarded Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) status in June 2017 and took some time to tell ICE about her career and why she chose to apply for CEnv.

"I've always been passionate about the environment and followed my BEng in Civil Engineering from Bristol with an MSc in Environmental Technology from Imperial College. Fresh from this, I worked at WSP on research into passive downdraft evaporative cooling techniques (PDEC) to help cope with rising temperatures and the heat island affect in cities. It was fantastic to work with partners in Spain, Portugal and Israel on such an innovative project; to tackle how we can adapt buildings to deal with increasing global temperatures, still a topical issue two decades later.

Later in my life, my professional mission was greatly influenced by a personal tragedy when my little sister, Eilidh, was run down from behind by a fully laden tipper lorry whilst cycling to work. She died two hours later from catastrophic crushing injuries. I soon learned that my (construction) industry was prevalent in cyclists and pedestrian deaths with a fatality on average once per month under HGV wheels."

A new focus

"50% of cyclist deaths involve an HGV but HGVs make up only 4% of traffic, and twice as many pedestrians are killed by HGVs than cyclists. Tipper lorries, cement mixers and skip lorries are the most lethal; and this is largely due to the massive blind areas all around the cabs.

Having seen the excellent on-site safety culture whilst working at Terminal 5 I set about to change off-site safety culture of the industry launching my See Me Save Me campaign; to eliminate lorry danger through challenging industry, policy and justice.

I went to the European Parliament twice and secured a change to the law (Directive 96/53) in cab design. We also convinced the London Mayor to introduce a Safer Lorry Standard.

I've worked too with industry on a national standard to manage HGV risk (CLOCS – construction logistics and community safety), which is being rolled out across the UK. The CLOCS standard is now included in Northumberland Council's procurement strategy, planning policy and fleet management. I continue to speak at industry events, on national media, TV and radio, and do interviews with trade, national and local press to promote road safety.

With 60% of our children obese or overweight, rising pollution and congestion, active travel is essential in maintaining the health of our populations, cities and planet. Change of off-site safety culture is crucial in assuaging the fears of the public, who say vehicle danger, especially HGV risk, is the biggest deterrent to cycling."

I applied to become a Chartered Environmentalist because…

"…sustainability has been at the heart of my professional and personal life since the beginning. I hate waste, always strive for efficiency and seek out synergies; in materials, energy, effort or time. I grew up on the beautiful wild beaches of Northumberland and have great respect for the ocean, weather, our planet and environment.

I love my job because of the diversity of tasks, projects and clients; and that I contribute to not only improving company practices but to stretching industry standards in safety, sustainability and responsibility. I work to bring out the best in companies and their operations ultimately to make a greater contribution to society through what it is built and how it is built.

Chartered status gives credit to my ambition and expertise in protecting and enhancing our precious and fragile environment. I strongly believe that engineers should not simply "harness the great sources of nature for the use and benefit of man" but should allocate an intrinsic value to its existence.

By attaining CEnv, I think I've also gained respect and credibility from colleagues and clients. It is too soon to say what this means in tangible terms (as I was only awarded the qualification a month ago at time of writing), but it's reassuring to have the recognition of my expertise and experience through this qualification."

What's next?

"My business helps clients in three areas; sustainable construction, safe logistics and equality and diversity or fairness inclusion and respect (FIR).

I have been involved in developing CEEQUAL, a tool for improving sustainability in civil engineering, since inception in 2000, spending eight years on the board of directors, working as a trainer, verifier and assessor, piloting the scheme on the Terminal 5 project and watching those teams then apply it at the Olympics and other major projects. CEEQUAL has recently been bought by BRE, a company with global operations and I am excited about the potential for it to become ubiquitous on an international basis as it gains recognition overseas, and to work on more projects using it.

The industry is now recognising the business risk of not managing off-site safety including cost, reputation, insurance premiums, driver trauma, as well as the human cost. As an expert in this field, I'm looking forward to helping more companies understand the risk and opportunities for their business and implementing policies and practices to ensure they have responsible, safe and sustainable operations.

Finally, I have just been appointed Chair of the ICE Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) Panel and am excited about the movement in this area and having the opportunity to work with industry leaders to bring about change."

» Find out more about becoming a Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) through ICE

Source - Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), a Licensed Body of the Society for the Environment. 

Author: Kathryn Denham-Maccioni, Marketing Specialist at ICE.

Tags:  CEnv  Chartered  Chartered Environmentalist  ICE  Institution of Civil Engineers 

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All at Sea: Coping with Litter and Ersatz-Plankton

Posted By Peter Matthews, 31 July 2017

Blog written by Dr Peter Matthews CBE OBE HonFSE CEnv, following his attendance at the Mott McDonald Ocean Plastics Conference on the 29th June 2017.


Photo credit: Alamy

I have rarely seen a topic grasp the imagination of both the scientific community, lay media and public concern as quickly as this topic, and I was pleased to be able to go to this [Ocean Plastics] Conference in Cambridge in my capacity as Chair of the Society. Although I could not stay for the whole event, I found it stimulating and enlightening.

I think that there still needs to be some greater clarity in the wider community on what the problems are and how we might set about resolving them. It is a classic case of ‘humanity cannot be green by regulation alone’.

 

Litter

The physical consequences for wildlife such as suffocation, strangulation, ensnarement, beach pollution and marine landscape despoilment. Marine plastics are then part of a bigger problem of litter management which embraces land as well as sea. Turtles can strangle as easily on abandoned rope nets as well as synthetic ones for example. But, synthetic nets may have different dispersion and flotation characteristics and will survive much longer, being less biodegradable. Plastic bags are a particular problem but may disintegrate in a marine environment. These problems can be controlled by litter management techniques on land and at sea, and is part of wider efforts on waste management including packaging.

Physical Degradation

Litter may break down physically in the marine environment, but the debris can cause physical and physiological problems to wildlife and marine landscape by the creation of adventitious small particles, particularly micro particles including microfibers. Therefore, plastic products have either got to be biodegradable or be sufficiently robust that physical degradation is slow enough to allow litter recovery before long term harm is caused.

Discharge into the Marine Environment - Microbeads

Planned use of micro particles added to products particularly plastic microbeads, then contributed adventitiously through waste discharges into the marine environment. A full ban in all products and shift to biodegradable beads will be the answer.

Discharge into the Marine Environment – Micro Particles

Other micro particles which are not added to products, but arise through other adventitious routes – particularly fibres from synthetic clothes in washing waters – and then discharged into the marine environment. This is a new issue and this may need some innovation in wastewater treatment technology. Changes in clothing materials will be really difficult.

Nano Particles

As far as I can see, there is less known about these than microbeads. But, concerns have been expressed about the use of TiO2 in cosmetics and ointments for example (not a plastic admittedly) and then discharged to the marine environment in waste water. It may well be that a ban on the use of these materials, except in the most essential medicines, would assist. And what about paint decoration products?

Biodegradation Products

We need to ensure that these are not ecotoxic.



The Way Forward

So, it seems to me that there are four key ways forward:

1...

The reduction of waste and litter in the first place including even more attention to packaging. For example, biodegradable wipes come in non-biodegradable sachets, and some food canisters have too many materials to recycle, greater attention to use and disposal by changing our habits, and tougher litter control. These might be helped by deposit schemes as we used to have and is now being trialled on bottles by Coca-Cola.

2...

The notion of biodegradability should move to being the norm rather than being the alternative to plastic. In the case of plastic bags, biodegradability is the notion which provides exemption from the levy. It raises the issue of whether we need a statutory direction or whether it would be left to behaviour. If we had an outright statutory or voluntary ban on plastic there could still be a levy on biodegradable bags to encourage the use of ‘life bags’. Biodegradability should apply wherever practicable to all plastic products. Biodegradability must come in two parts – land based decomposition and aquatic decomposition.

The slow progress on standard methodology leads one to muse as to whether there is a need to have a fresh look at the roles of BSI and the Standing Committee of Analysts in these matters. We await the outcome of the on-going review by Defra on methodology in the context of carrier bags. 

3...

We need a review of all household and personal products with a risk rating in terms of micro and nanoparticles and consideration being given to a registration system. This might need a review of how REACH will work post Brexit and whether new tests and regulated conditions are needed for consents to discharge industrial effluents in future legislation post the Great Repeal Act. I welcome the role of the Hazardous Substances Committee, in the context of microbeads, in the announcement of the forthcoming statutory ban next year.

4...

New insights are needed on the ability of detergents or similar chemicals (with no ecotoxicity obviously) to form microfiber micelles, which would then be more susceptible to being removed by conventional or modified used water treatment.

 

A Final Thought

One final thought about the small particles whether macro, micro or nano; they disrupt the marine food chains either by entering alongside phytoplankton in consumption by zooplankton or by co-ingestion alongside zooplankton. Either way they are artificial contributors to plankton and so I am proposing the formal title of ersatz-plankton.

The presentation slides from the Mott McDonald Ocean Plastics Conference can be downloaded here.

Tags:  CEnv  Conference  Ersatz-Plankton  HonFSE  Ocean  plastics  pollution  Sea 

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CIWEM Magazine Articles by Dr Peter Matthews CBE OBE HonFSE CEnv

Posted By Phil Underwood, 28 July 2017

Over the last few months former Chair of the Society for the Environment, Dr Peter Matthews CBE OBE HonFSE CEnv, has been providing insightful articles for the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) magazine 'The Environment'. 

We are pleased that CIWEM have given us permission to share these articles on our website for the wider environmental professional community to view. These articles touch on a broad range of environmental subjects, providing interest to environmental professionals working in many sectors.

Each article is listed below - please feel free to share with your colleagues and interested contacts. 

March 2016
Aspiration to Regulation

April 2016
From Paper to Practice

May 2016
What is the Role of Arm's Length Bodies?

June 2016
The Question of Independence

July / August 2016
Practical Regulation and the Community

September 2016
Getting to the Routes of Regulation

October 2016
Origins - Green Myth and Iconography

November 2016
Creating an Environment for Change

December 2016 / January 2017
What Will Brexit Mean for Environmental Regulation in the UK?

February 2017
Making the Best of Brexit

March 2017
Passionate Truth, Not Post Truth

April 2017
An Age of Environmental Chivalry

May 2017
Evidence Based Practice in Environmental Decision Making

June 2017
Behavioural Sciences Can Help Us

New articles will be added to this blog post when available. For more information about the magazine, please click here.

Tags:  Articles  CEnv  Chair  CIWEM  Environment  HonFSE  Magazine  REnvTech 

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