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Norway reaps financial rewards and slashes emissions by cutting out wasteful chemicals | Science | News

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The municipality of Porsgrunn within the south of Norway has slashed its greenhouse emissions by 40 tonnes in six months, and saved 500,000 kroner (around £41,000) in the method. This feat was achieved using a sturdy inventory of all different chemicals utilized in various municipal facilities — from nursery schools to fireplace stations and workshops to hospitals — managed with assistance from tools developed by the software firm EcoOnline. Armed with this data, the two,700-odd municipal staff in Porsgrunn were in a position to discover where they were needlessly buying excess amounts of given chemicals, in addition to where substitutions to more economical, safer and more environmentally friendly products is perhaps possible. And, with assistance from a technique developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency, EcoOnline has helped Porsgrunn to quantify not only the financial advantages of every change, but additionally its impact on the municipality’s carbon footprint.

For instance, EcoOnline explains, many harsh cleansing products were in a position to get replaced with easy water and microfibre cloths. While substitutions is perhaps more complex within the municipality’s workshops, pumping stations and wastewater treatment facilities, the project has raised awareness of the advantages — and likewise the risks related to certain chemicals.

Porsgrunn Municipality Engineering Department operations manager Per Våtvik said: “We must be certain that all our people have easy accessibility to the data they should know the way we must always handle chemicals safely. We’re actively in search of products that we are able to substitute with less harmful alternatives.”

Having initially pledged to scale back the variety of chemicals utilized by 10 percent by 2023, the municipality has already hit a discount of 16 percent — ditching greater than 640 products.

Porsgrunn councillor Rose-Marie Christiansen said: “I feel many individuals associate chemicals with test tubes in laboratories. But after they learn that on a regular basis products like detergents, glue and paint are also chemicals, it is less complicated to know and relate to the undeniable fact that this is very important for everybody.”

Porsgrunn municipality slashed its greenhouse emissions by reducing the chemical products they use (Image: EcoOnline)

Engineering Department manager Per Våtvik

Pictured: Per Våtvik demonstrates how QR codes are used to trace chemical stocks (Image: EcoOnline)

The thought to overhaul Porsgrunn’s municipal chemical usage, EcoOnline‘s Global Head of Sustainability Helene Brodersen told Express.co.uk, got here out of their efforts to attract up their first “climate budget” earlier this 12 months.

She explains: “Norway submitted an enhanced climate goal under the Paris Agreement — to scale back emissions by at the least 50 percent and as much as 55 percent in comparison with 1990 levels.”

(Actually, in the previous few weeks — within the run-up to the COP27 climate conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt — Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre announced that the country is aiming to achieve a discount of at the least 55 percent by the top of the last decade.)

To realize this, each municipality creates a climate budget that details proposed methods to scale back greenhouse gas emissions, provides an estimation of the effect of said measures, and establishes who’s responsible to make sure such are enacted.

As Ms Brodersen notes, “the climate budget can include climate measures to scale back direct emissions (those inside a geographical area) and indirect emissions (people who occur outside the realm as a consequence of consumption of products and services), climate adaptation measures, or energy measures.”

EcoOnline helped Porsgrunn make the connection between the chemical inventories they were already routinely taking for health and safety purposes and the climate budget they were looking to ascertain.

This made Porsgrunn the primary municipality to incorporate a discount of chemicals as a concrete measure of their climate budget — although other regions are actually following suit.

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Ewalina Pracon of Vestsiden nursery school

Ms Pracon said: ‘A very powerful thing concerning the project is to have the ability to save lots of the environment’ (Image: EcoOnline)

Chemicals in Vestsiden nursery school

Ms Pracon and her colleagues have been rethinking the paint and cleansing products used at Vestsiden (Image: EcoOnline)

Ms Christiansen said: ”We’re very proud to see that the climate budget, which is a component of the municipality’s motion program for 2022–2025, is already showing such positive results. As a municipality within the country’s largest industrial region, we’re keen to work with sustainability in any respect levels and to scale back our climate footprint in all the pieces we do.

“Along with the financial and environmental goals, we also see the nice value this project has for the health and well-being of the municipality’s employees and residents.

Porsgrunn municipality HR advisor Tove Sørensen — who’s answerable for leading the project — added: “Several people probably thought reducing chemicals as a separate decision within the climate budget would only interest a small group. Some said the project seemed only to suit ‘the nerds’!

“Nonetheless, the undeniable fact that we got approval for this project had meant loads to the staff. Once I am out to guide the varied businesses, I hear that they feel that they’re helping to make an effort for society and that they’re making a difference that has an impact on health and the environment.”

Actually, Ms Brodersen said, lots of the municipal staff have been taking the teachings learned at work back to their homes — and reducing their carbon footprint there too.

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Cleaning supervisor Rita Borg

Rita Borg said: ‘We now have cleared and standardised which sorts of chemicals we are going to use’ (Image: EcoOnline)

One among Porsgrunn‘s employees who’s directly involved in implementing this system is Ewalina Pracon, who’s the protection representative on the Vestsiden nursery school, where they’ve been rethinking the cleansing products they use and the paints they provide the youngsters.

She said: “For me, an important thing concerning the project is to have the ability to save lots of the environment, in addition to create a safer working environment for the staff and for the kids to play in.”

The cleansing department, Ms Brodersen notes, was considered one of the departments that used to employ a lot of different chemical products. Local resident Rita Borg — who supervises 85 cleaners — said: “Once I began, there have been a variety of chemicals.

“Now we’ve got cleared and standardised which sorts of chemicals we are going to use. Previously, we had to purchase large quantities, but now we’ve got negotiated to purchase only what we want.

“In this fashion, we avoid large stocks of chemicals we want to throw away as they get old and expire. And throwing away chemicals is a posh and expensive process in itself.”

While the project has seen tremendous successes already, it’s removed from over. As Ms Christiansen explains: “The subsequent step for us can be to analyze the chances of using the principles of the circular economy to raised utilise our chemical reserves across businesses.”

The exact same approach, Ms Brodersen notes, may very well be employed here within the UK by councils — and beyond. She concludes: “It’s not just for municipalities. Every business can do that. It’s really easy for other corporations to do the identical.”

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