The weekly #goodnewssiren round-up #45

March 26, 2021


From microwave-powered boilers to a new diet for cows, here’s what’s making us smile in the world of sustainability this week…


Plans for zero-emission home boilers were unveiled 


The race to decarbonise the UK’s heating network heated up this week with the makers of the world’s first microwave boiler announcing a timeline for UK trialsHeat Wayv, the company behind the innovation, said it is expecting to pilot the systems in UK homes in 2022, with the first sales targeted for 2024 ahead of the phasing out plan for gas boilers in 2025.  


With heating currently producing 14% of the UK’s carbon emissions, the boiler uses electricity to heat water which can then be pumped through existing radiators and to taps and showers and baths, providing a straight-forward zero-emissions replacement for gas boilers that currently heat the majority of homes in the UK.  


Net-zero flights ‘on the horizon’, scientists said 


US researchers have developed a technique for turning food waste into jet fuel, bringing the prospect of net-zero flights one step closer. The kerosene alternative was created using a process known as bio-refining to turn food waste into a kind of paraffin that works in aircraft engines, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from planes by 165 per cent.  


With aviation as one of the biggest obstacles in the race to net zero, the scientists behind the new fuel claimed it could be commercially viable within two years, pending regulatory approval. It seems beachside pina coladas could soon taste that bit sweeter for climate-conscious holidaymakers thanks to this new alternative! 


Feeding cows seaweed could reduce methane emissions  


Despite being short-lived, methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and the second contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide with the majority of human-induced methane emissions coming from livestock.  


In a newly published five-month study, it was reported that feeding cattle just a tiny bit of red seaweed, known as Asparagopsis taxiformiseach day could help the agriculture industry significantly cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers who put a small amount of seaweed into the feed of cattle found that the new diet caused the cattle to release 82 per cent less methane into the atmosphere whilst still gaining as much weight as their other herd mates.  


With roughly 1 billion cattle around the world, this study could effectively reduce overall methane emissions and is a big step onto the road of environmental recovery. 


Spain to launch four-day working week trial  


Spain will become one of the first countries in the world to trial the four-day working week after the government agreed to launch a modest pilot project for companies interested in the idea. With advocates of a shorter working week arguing that it would bring many benefits to society, including boosting productivity, improving equality and reducing emissionsans are underway to launch the pilot from as early as this autumn with employee pay remaining unaffected by the shorter working week. 


It is reported that change in the working structure would accomplish important social and environmental goals, with the positive outcomes of working one less day per week cutting carbon emissions by 7 per cent with a reduction in traffic emissions by 560 million miles every week.