Waste isn't just for Christmas . . .
Published: 06 Dec 2013
The Christmas period is a time for family, friends, giving, sharing and, unfortunately, waste (and usually lots of it!). Wrapping paper, boxes, cards and leftover food are just some of the things that many people will send to landfill this year, which has obvious environmental consequences.
So, instead of mindlessly throwing away your waste, have a think about how it could be put to better use or how it can be reduced (which will help the environment too!). Here are some tips:
- make lists before going Christmas shopping. Making sure you only buy what you need will help reduce waste;
- re-use Christmas cards (not as Christmas cards though!). Cut old cards up and use them as tags on presents;
- if you are sending cards, why not send an e-card?! It will cost less and is waste-free;
- compost any leftovers;
- take reusable bags with you or purchase a 'bag for life', which will reduce the amount of single use bags used and the amount of plastic going to landfill;
- avoid using wrapping paper and try and use gift bags which can be used several times over;
- buy a real Christmas tree with the roots still attached - this way you can replant it and use it year after year (or, if you can't find one with the roots still attached, take your real tree to a local recycling centre when you're finished with it, where it will be chipped and re-used in the local community);
- many new toys require batteries, so buy rechargeable batteries to avoid waste.
However, if you decide you'd rather throw the waste away, make sure you check with your local authority what can be recycled and recycle as much as you possibly can.
The 12 tips for Christmas
Published: 06 Dec 2013
'Tis the festive season again, and no doubt all over the UK employers and employees are preparing their offices for Christmas and possibly even an office Christmas party. If so, here are a few handy tips containing very simple steps to make sure you stay safe in the office:
- remind staff that alcohol should be consumed in moderation, especially if the day after the party is a working day! Ensure they know what is and what is not acceptable behaviour;
- make sure you have policies in place that address issues that could occur at Christmas, especially at an office party. This should include alcohol, occupational health and safety and harassment;
- carry out a risk assessment to make sure there are no risks - for instance if you are having an office Christmas party you might want to put measures in place to make sure no liquids are consumed next to electrical equipment;
- make sure you assess the risk of Christmas decorations. This does not mean they cannot be put up though! Analyse potential fire hazards, such as decorations covering the vent of a computer, and tidy trailing cables away to avoid trip hazards - simple steps to ensure a festive but safe office;
- if providing food at an office party, make sure you double check any dietary requirements of employees;
- label any foods containing nuts or gluten (or other ingredients which employees could be allergic to);
- if your party is off-site, remember it is still a work function and your office policies around health and safety and harassment may still apply;
- make arrangements for appropriate and safe transport at the end of the night;
- if putting up Christmas decorations in the office, make sure you use safe ladders and don't ever use a swivel chair;
- avoid using the photocopier to photocopy images of your anatomy. The top of the copier is glass and could shatter under weight - sitting at the Christmas table will therefore not be a comfortable occasion;
- turn off any Christmas lights at the end of the working day; and
- make sure the Christmas tree is sturdy - unsafe trees could topple on employees causing injury.
But most importantly, enjoy it!
The Housing Company who stole Christmas
Published: 06 Dec 2013
The Baggott family have been left in dismay this year after Scrooge council bosses ordered them to pull down their Christmas decorations, as well as ordering them to tear down their shed where they kept their decorations.
For the last eight years, John and Teresa Baggott have transformed their front-garden into a dazzling Santa’s grotto, along with a mechanical Father Christmas, much to the delight of their disabled teenage son.
However, Sanctuary Housing in Devon told the family, whose decorations raise thousands of pounds for charity, that they had to take down all the hooks and the electric boxes on the wall because they didn't want electrics outside the house.
Mr Baggott says the family are so upset they want to move to a new home with their three boys, including disabled son Shea, 14, who suffers from a muscle and nerve-wasting condition.
He added: "We put a lot of work into it. We put our heart and soul into it and it looked pretty good. Shea loved the light. He would sit out there for hours in his wheelchair looking at them. He's upset and he has picked up that we're stressed."
The annual display, which takes around two weeks to assemble, last year earned them first place in the the residential category of the Torbay Winter Glitterland competition and has raised more than £8,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
A spokeswoman for Sanctuary Group confirmed the family were told they were 'not allowed to tamper with the electrics of the property'.
She said: "As standard with rented accommodation, tenants should not tamper with the electrics, build onto or extend the property without their landlord's consent, and Sanctuary has only very recently been made aware of the extent of work done to the home.
'The family has significantly altered and extended the electrics at the property and we have serious concerns about the safety of these works.'
Report crackers 'elf and safety rules say Government
Published: 05 Dec 2013
Reports are heard every year of disgruntled office workers who have been banned from putting up decorations during the festive period because of 'elf and safety. However, the myths surrounding office decorations and health and safety rules are being challenged by the Minister responsible for health and safety, Mike Penning.
Mr Penning said, "Every year, I hear of more bonkers "excuses" that ban hard-working people from the traditional hanging of Christmas decorations at work - which does nothing more than spoil the festive fun. My message to everyone is - use your common sense. Don't just invent a health and safety myth because you think it's easier than giving a real reason - this gives real safety rules a bad name."
Anyone who hears of a bogus health and safety excuse around the festive period has been encouraged to get in touch with the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) Myth Busting Challenge Panel, which has been working hard since its establishment to put the record straight about health and safety rules.
The HSE has said that there are no regulations preventing decorations being hung at work, although here at Cedrec we would always encourage you to use safe practices when decorations are up in the office. For instance:
- do not stand on a swivel chair, always use safe ladders;
- avoid hanging decorations over the vent on a computer;
- don't leave trailing cables across the office floor; and
- remember to turn Christmas tree lights off at the end of the day.
Scottish Waste Crime Fighters
Published: 05 Dec 2013
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has announced the creation of a new Waste Crime Team which will help tackle serious and organised crime within the waste industry.
Recent experiences dealing with waste crime in Scotland have shown that there has been an increase in the involvement of serious and organised crime gangs who use their influence to gain a foothold in a legitimate market and that new approaches are needed to effectively and efficiently tackle the challenges it creates.
The new Waste Crime Team within SEPA will lead investigations directed at tackling the most serious offenders, working in partnership with law enforcement agencies, such as Police Scotland, to identify and disrupt serious organised crime within the waste sector.
Calum MacDonald, SEPA Executive Director, said: "What we are tackling with this new team is deliberate and sustained law breaking by those who do not care what impact their actions are having on the local environment and communities. In addition, we are seeking to change the behaviour of waste producers, in an attempt to disrupt the flow of waste at the source. Law abiding members of the waste community must understand that they have a vital role to play in preventing this kind of crime, by ensuring they understand their obligation to only deal with other legitimate businesses."
The effects of environmental crime can vary in severity, and can include:
- serious damage to the environment through pollution of land and water;
- contamination of land and groundwater through uncontrolled disposal of waste to land;
- fish kills resulting from illegal discharges to the water environment;
- risk to human health, for example through illegal emissions of toxic levels of substances to air or direct contact with contaminated land or water;
- hazards to wildlife whose habitat has been destroyed or contaminated.
Walking in an Unwelcome Winter Wonderland
Published: 04 Dec 2013
Mayhem broke out in Berkshire as residents were fearful that a Christmas-themed attraction would cause traffic congestion, health and safety issues and have an impact on the environment.
However Bracknell Forest Council ignored the 289 objections and approved a three-year temporary licence which allows LaplandUK, the UK's home of Father Christmas, to trade at Whitmore Bog.
Angharad Clark, of Swinley Road, Winkfield, where the Christmas experience will be staged during the festive season for the next three years, spoke against the application for three minutes during a heated meeting.
She criticised the plans being called "temporary", claiming it was more like a third of the year and said the site would cause light and noise pollution, traffic problems and would "destroy" the street scene. She added: "Protect the countryside, protect the residents," as objectors supported her with a round of applause.
LaplandUK's co-founder Alison Battle spoke for three minutes about how the attraction would bring to life "a young child’s fleeting belief in Father Christmas". She explained how visitors arriving and leaving at pre-booked times would minimise the impact on traffic and said LaplandUK had never received a traffic complaint, nor light or noise complaints, in the six years it operated in Kent.
Members asked several questions, resolving to alter conditions including the dates the attraction can be open and when staff can begin work. Cllr Dale Birch said a lot of work had been done to put in mitigations for potential problems. Cllr Marc Brunel-Walker added the idea had great economic benefits as it would bring 250 jobs to the area in the run up to Christmas.
The attraction is due to operate between 30 November and Christmas Eve this year and between 21 November and Christmas Eve in 2014 and 2015. All buildings and facilities would be removed from the site in the intervening periods.