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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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GDT Tek Inc. (GDTK: OTC Link) | GDT TEK and Green USA Recycling Agree to Bond Offering

Category : Stocks

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GDT TEK and Green USA Recycling Agree to Bond Offering

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Don’t let Biffa go to waste | Lindsay Mackie

Category : Business

The treatment by private equity firms of the struggling waste disposal group is an object lesson. It should have been protected

The circling and landing of carrion birds on waste tips is common enough. These days, it is being mirrored by what you could describe as the circling of human vultures over the waste disposal industry.

Biffa, the waste disposal company that carries out much local authority work, is profitable, admired by the unions that represent much of its 6,000-strong workforce, praised by local authorities like south Oxfordshire district council as innovative and efficient, and responsible over the years for developing a lot of the improvements that have spruced up UK rubbish collection and recycling.

All in all the kind of company that the government – and Ed Miliband – loves.

But at the moment its fate is in the hands of banks who lent three investment firms – step forward Montagu Private Equity, Global Infrastructure Partners and Halifax Bank of Scotland (private equity division) – over £1bn to buy it in 2008. This was spectacular over-leverage. The owners say they have invested heavily in the company, particularly in recycling, and that the “quick buck” was not the reason for the current state of play. Rather, the financial crisis intervened and the company can no longer service this crippling debt.

In August, a consortium of Chinook Urban Mining, a London recycling specialist, the private equity investor Clearbrook Capital and the American bank JP Morgan bid just £520m for the group. But so far no decisions have been made either to sell, or how exactly to re-structure the debt so that the company is less burdened.

In the words of Justin Bowden, national officer of the GMB union, the talks now going on “are about buying and selling the debt, with the company being thrown in for free”.

This situation is an object lesson in faulty economics, lack of democratic power, political blindness and a complete lack of solutions to an increasingly common problem – the hijacking of the real economy by financial pirates, often based offshore.

The economics: Biffa is a good company, providing a service you can see and benefit from. It should have been protected to go on doing that. That means regulation, keeping its buyers onshore and having a legal requirement of transparency.

Lack of democratic power: The fate of Biffa, an outsourcing company, is an awful warning amid the great outsourcing bonanza about to occur under the coalition’s “austerity” programme. Contracts worth £80bn from national and local government are coming down the slipway. Where are the political talks about how to stop any venture capitalist from plucking a good outsourcing company – Biffa – with a contract to deliver X and turning it into a debt-laden company only offering Y to an impoverished local authority with no expensive legal expertise to challenge the new owners?

Political blindness: David Cameron knows that bins matter. He’s a south Oxfordshire MP. What’s stopping his government from coming up with a policy on protecting companies like Biffa from predatory purchasing?

And the lack of solutions? South Oxfordshire is looking keenly at the upcoming Defra awards for good recycling. It’s hoping Biffa will come up top. It’s municipal pride in a job well done. What does that count for in the bankers’ talks? The GMB has solutions that involve regulation, transparency and statutory requirements about where your takeover company is based. That must be right – but won’t go down well with a government that uses the word regulation as an expletive.

The Biffa case study shouldn’t be wasted. It is an object lesson in how we have let the market run our real economy – rather than, as it should be, the other way round.

Live Q&A: Soc ent recyclers – tell the world how you did it, 13 July, 1200 – 1400 BST

Category : Business

Join us on Friday 13 July to find out from our expert panel how to run a successful recycling social enterprise

Recycling goods – and reselling them – is a popular form of social enterprise. It can often deliver many forms of social impact: reducing waste, providing employment for marginalised groups, and giving poorer communities access to consumer goods.

But it’s also a crowded field, with competition from mainstream business – and social enterprises have problems trying to scale up.

In this live Q&A we’ll take a look at:

• opportunities in this sector for social entrepreneurs
• barriers to scaling up, and how best to overcome them
• successful recycling social enterprises – and how they did it.

You can read about a couple of success stories ahead of the live Q&A on the links below:

• Brighter Future Workshop, recyclers of mobility equipment and winners of the Guardian Social Enterprise Award 2011, featured on our network earlier this year.
• Recycle-IT – a community interest company and one of the largest UK-wide not-for-profit IT recyclers – were one of the featured companies from our social enterprise directory last month.

Do get in touch if you’d like to be a panellist – email Joe Jervis for more details.

Also, if you’d like to leave a question, please do so in the comments section below, or come back to ask it live – and follow the debate – on Friday 13 July, 1200 – 1400 BST.

Remember – in order to be on the panel and also to participate, you need to register as a member of the Guardian social enterprise network, and log in. Click here to register.

Panel of experts

Nikki DiGiovanni – national co-ordinator, ScrapstoresUK

Nikki has been working with scrapstoresUK since 2010 and has developed the charity into a thriving network that connects the 90+ scrapstores across the UK. These independent scrapstores are run for community benefit by staff and volunteers who divert waste from businesses that would be destined to end up in land-fill and distribute it to schools and over 74,000 community groups to use for arts, crafts and play. As well as the fun, every year scrapstores prevent thousands of tonnes of waste from being burned or buried and make a huge impact on reducing the UK’s carbon footprint.

Alex Harvey – manager, Giveacar

Alex Harvey is a manager at Giveacar. He studied European History at Manchester University, graduating in 2009 – then working overseas in China and for an NGO in Brussels before joining Giveacar in 2011. Giveacar is a not-for-profit social enterprise that raises money for charity by accepting donations of old cars. Launched in January 2010, it was the first service of its kind in the UK and allows charities to tap into a brand new source of funds.

Benita Matofska – founder and chief sharer, People Who Share

Benita Matofska is a former TV executive, social innovator, social entrepreneur and the founder and chief sharer of The People Who Share, a social enterprise dedicated to building a Sharing Economy. The People Who Share are the company behind the first one-stop destination for the sharing of resources and National Sharing Day.

Jenelle Montilone – creative activist and designer, TrashN2Tees

Inspiring others to consume less and recycle more with her sustainable handmade wares, Jenelle has been able to divert more than 2.5 tonnes of clothing/textiles from the landfill. Her business recently expanded to include clothing recycling collections with local agencies and organizations in her own community as well as hosting DIY upcycling/repurposing workshops. In November she will be releasing an app & hosting the create Change. Pledge event, instigating a movement that will change the way we consume and create. Twitter: @TrashN2Tees

Emma Hallett – operations manager, RElliance

Emma is the operations manager of REalliance. REalliance supports and represents social and community enterprises working to use and manage resources sustainably. She previously was general manager at the Community Recycling Network and managed a three year capacity building programme for social enterprises in the reuse/recycling/composting sector. Twitter: @ReallianceEmma

Robert Jones-Mantle – company secretary, Magpie Recycling Co-operative

For two decades Robert, as a member of the Magpie Recycling Co-operative, has rescued thousands of tonnnes from landfill which has itself created significant empowered employment. Our model has evolved from a from a time when there was little service provision for businesses and households wanting to be smart with their waste to the present where all waste firms claim to be smart with your waste. Find some community owned solutions at the or at

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To join the social enterprise network, click here.

M&S becomes ‘carbon neutral’

Category : Business

First major UK retailer to meet its sustainability targets says results show there is also a strong business case for going green

M&S has become the first major UK retailer to become fully ‘carbon neutral’, the company said on Thursday, five years after launching its sustainability project, ‘Plan A’.

But despite the company’s progress in meeting many of the targets in its programme, its management admit disappointment at its failure to meet some of the more ambitious challenges, such as tripling sales of organic food and drink.

The 2012 How We Do Business Report, published on Thursday, sets out in detail the progress of the 180 commitments set out to ensure sustainable policies are at the heart of every aspect of its business, including its complex international supply chain.

The social and environmental issues addressed by M&S range from energy saving and carbon emissions to Fairtrade and animal welfare; from waste management to sustainable sourcing of timber and fish.

In 2010 it announced an extended Plan A with 80 new commitments to achieve by 2015 and the ultimate goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer.

The new report reveals that 138 commitments have been achieved and a further 30 are ‘on plan’, ie on target to be met within the specified timescale. Overall the net benefit of Plan A to the business last year was £105m – a 50% increase on the £70m delivered in 2010/11.

The company says it is now fully carbon neutral, after reducing energy usage by 28% through more efficient refrigeration, and counting renewable energy tariffs and offsetting.

The company also now recycles 100% of its waste. Of its food waste from stores, 89% goes straight to anaerobic digestors to generate energy and the rest is composted. And 31% of M&S products – £3bn worth — now have a Plan A attribute such as Fairtrade, organic or made from recycled material. The longer-term goal is that by 2020, all M&S products – nearly three billion sold annually – will have at least one sustainable characteristic.

The retailer had aimed to triple sales of organic food and drink by 2012. But while sales of Fairtrade products have increased by 88% -and organic products are popular in its 300 cafes – sales of organic products in store remain broadly the same as in 2007.

And it has also fallen slightly short of its target that by 2012 100% of wood, such as kitchenware and furniture, would be FSC or equivalent or recycled, reporting that the figure was 84%.

Mike Barry, head of sustainable business at M&S, said: “There are a couple of disappointments but these are challenging economic times and M&S deserves eight out of ten for making some substantive achievements in the first five years of Plan A. This detailed evaluation shows the powerful business case for the initiative. We look forward to working further with our 21 million shoppers to make further progress by 2020.”

Most recently, M&S expanded its existing partnership with Oxfam through the launch of ‘shwopping’ – promoted by actress Joanna Lumley, which encourages shoppers to hand over an item of discarded clothing when they buy something new.

Teabags targeted for new compost scheme

Category : Business

New campaign to persuade Britons to recycle teabags instead of throwing them in the bin launched by PG Tips owner Unilever

The UK consumes an astonishing 165 million cups of tea every day, but most of the teabags that go to making the nation’s favourite hot drink still end up unnecessarily in landfill.

Now manufacturing giant Unilever has teamed up with two Essex councils, Brentwood and Chelmsford, together with Wrap the government’s advisory body on waste, to encourage people to compost their teabags with their food waste.

Unilever UK is the manufacturer of tea brand PG Tips, while the group is the largest tea buyer in the world, buying about 12% of the world’s tea supply of black tea.

The pilot scheme is fronted by posters featuring Monkey, the mascot for PG tips, and aims to promote wider use of the councils’ food waste recycling services while encouraging households to change their behaviour for the better.

The campaign marks the first time that any of the parties have worked specifically to promote teabag recycling. Reducing waste is a key part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which includes a commitment to reduce the amount of waste the company sends to landfill by 50% within the next eight years.

According to Wrap, tea is by far the largest element of unavoidable food waste produced in the UK, above items such as fruit peel and onion skins, accounting for around 370,000 tonnes of waste every year. Wrap also advises people to compost teabags even when they contain polypropylene – the heat-resistant sealant that is not fully bio-degradable. According to the UK Tea Council 66% of the British population drink tea every day, but most teabags are still disposed of in landfill bin.

Nationally, Wrap says just over half of local authorities now offer food waste collections, while the UK now processes one million tonnes a year of food waste via anaerobic digestion.

Weekly food waste collections were introduced by Chelmsford and Brentwood Councils in December 2011 in an effort to curb the amount of waste being sent to landfill, which costs authorities £64 per tonne in landfill tax. In Chelmsford, the council saved over £166,000 last year by reducing the amount of black bin waste by 2,600 tonnes compared to the previous year. Between December 2011 and March 2012, the new collection had already diverted 1,500 tonnes of food waste from landfill, with the amount being collected and recycled increasing month on month.

Paul Sherratt, the global packaging and sustainability director at Unilever said: “To achieve our ambitious targets, we need to collaborate with organisations such as Wrap and forward-thinking councils such as Chelmsford and Brentwood in order to encourage consumers to recycle wherever they can. Only through such partnerships can we really begin to tackle such challenges.”

He added: “Unilever’s teabags are mainly made from organic material so we believe that putting them in with the rest of the household food waste will be a small habit change that everyone can adopt.”

Europe’s secondhand clothes brings mixed blessings to Africa

Category : Business

Roaring trade in often smuggled charity castoffs in African street markets risks ruining domestic textile industries

As a boy growing up in Sierra Leone, Kemoh Bah prized his Michael Jackson T-shirt. “I was the only one who had this kind of T-shirt in my village, and I felt like I was part of American culture,” said Bah, dressed head-to-toe in clothes emblazoned with logos outside his roadside secondhand clothes shack in the capital, Freetown.

Nicknamed “junks” in Sierra Leone, hand-me-downs account for the majority of outfits in a country where seven out of 10 people live on less than $2 a day. The industry has ballooned to $1bn in Africa since 1990. And yet the combination of western charity and African brand enthusiasm is not always a force for good. Quite apart from the ethical issue of donated goods becoming tradeable commodities on which middlemen can turn a profit, there is the threat to local textile markets to consider.

About a third of globally donated clothes make their way via wholesale rag houses to sub-Saharan Africa, where they end up lining the streets or filling small boutiques. Hawkers say Christmas time, when westerners flock to offload clothes to charity shops, brings in the biggest bales. The lucrative industry has even spawned fake charity clothes collectors in the west.

But critics say the billion-dollar trade risks swamping fragile domestic textiles markets, and 12 countries in Africa are among 31 globally that have now banned their import.

“The only way I survived was to start making Muslim women’s clothes,” said tailor Bema Sidibe from Ivory Coast, where around 20 tonnes of secondhand clothes flooded the country last year. In neighbouring Ghana, 10 times that amount arrive in an average year. “Muslim women don’t go for these western-influenced clothes and around traditional feast days you are guaranteed a few new outfits will be ordered,” Sidibe said.

The influx of cheap clothes has heaped pressure on an industry already struggling to adapt to changing fashions amid patchy infrastructure. During his presidency in Ghana, John Kufuor introduced national “Friday wear day” to encourage citizens to wear traditional clothes made using the jewel-coloured wax fabrics associated with African garments.

For many though, the trade allows clothes to be bought and sold cheaply and provides desperately needed jobs.

Increasingly, taste as well as necessity has come into play. Picking through Kemoh’s roadside cabin jammed between crumbling colonial buildings and corrugated-zinc shacks, bargain-hunter Fatima rifles through Gucci castoffs. “You can buy even cheaper Chinese ready-mades, but then you look like everybody else. Here I can find designer clothes no one else has,” she said, sporting a rainbow-coloured mohican haircut.

A roaring trade continues across Africa, from Ghana’s thriving “faux” markets to Nigeria’s “bend down” boutiques.

Each month, using shipping containers supposedly full of cars, a network of traffickers, including Chidi Ugwe, smuggles around 1.5 tonnes of clothes to Nigeria’s sprawling Katangua market, the largest flea market in the country.

“Most of the clothes land in smaller countries like Togo and Benin and then we get them to Nigeria. We call them flying goods, because they fly into the country without being seen,” Ugwe, a former customs officer, said, while thousands of shoppers thronged through the narrow market streets.

The clothes mostly come from Europe, although relatively affluent countries in Asia also provide a steady trickle. So popular are the clothes in Katangua market that thousands of small-time traders also bribe border officials to bring in their own bales.

“We call our shops ‘bend down’ boutiques because we have so many clothes we just pour them on the floor and you just bend down and select,” explained Mercy Azbuike, surrounded by piles of clothes overflowing from her wooden shack and piled into wheelbarrows outside.

“Even those selling clothes in boutiques [proper stores] are buying from us,” said Azbuike, who also travels to neighbouring Benin twice a month to replenish her stock.

“It’s the same boutique but you don’t have to bend down so it’s more expensive,” she said, emptying out a Disney rucksack stuffed with children’s pyjamas. Mothers with children elbowed past teenagers. “I cover myself but under my abaya [Muslim dress] I still want to wear nice, modern clothes,” said Fatoumata, 18, as she paid $13 for sequinned Levi’s jeans.

Not every seller is so successful. Emmanuel Odaibanga, who sells ski suits and jackets in a stifling shack, said business was slow. “It’s easy to buy jackets [from smugglers], hard to sell them,” he shrugged.

5 Stocks Under $10 Poised to Move Higher

Category : Business

WINDERMERE, Fla. (Stockpickr) — There isn’t a day that goes by on Wall Street when certain stocks trading near or under $10 a share don’t experience massive spikes higher. Traders savvy enough to follow the low-priced names and trade them with discipline and sound risk management are banking ridiculous coin on a regular basis.

Just take a look at some of the hot movers in the under-$10 complex today, including NF Energy Saving, soaring an amazing 138%; China Recycling Energy, spiking over 60%; Allos Therapeutics, jumping over 25%; and Cleantech Solutions, rising over 20%. You don’t even have to catch the entire move in lower-priced stocks such as these to make outsized returns when trading.

>>5 Big Stocks to Trade for Gains in April

Click to view a price quote on TSRX.

Click to research the Health Services industry.

Read more: 5 Stocks Under $10 Poised to Move Higher

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Easter-egg makers not doing enough to cut packaging, says MP

Category : Business

Lib Dem Jo Swinson’s report praises Nestlé but criticises luxury eggs from Baileys and M&S

A Lib Dem MP has accused confectionery giants and supermarkets of complacency when it comes to Easter egg packaging, in an analysis that claims they have made little progress in the past year in reducing card and plastic and improving recyclability.

Commercially produced Easter eggs generate an estimated 3,000 tonnes of UK waste each year, according to the government’s waste advisory body, Wrap. But despite some improvements, many Easter chocolate products remain over-packaged and unrecyclable, according to a report by the Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson, a long-standing campaigner against excessive and wasteful packaging.

Her 2012 Easter Egg Packaging report found that, on average, only 38% of what is in an Easter egg box is an egg – the same figure as last year. It also criticises some manufacturers for failing to ensure their packages are made from widely recyclable materials, which means that much of the packaging still ends up in landfill sites.

This year’s study – the sixth such annual exercise – analysed 11 eggs and drew comparisons between the eight brands also surveyed between 2007 and 2011. It includes products from Mars, Nestlé, Cadbury and Thorntons, as well as own-brand products from supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer.

Products were weighed and measured and given two ratings, for the highest ratio of chocolate egg to packaging and for overall recyclability.

The study found the “big three” confectionery companies – Nestlé, Mars and Cadbury – have cut overall packaging and eliminated plastic from medium-range Easter eggs. This year Nestlé, which produces 20m eggs for the UK – one in four sold – has gone further by becoming the first major confectioner to make its full range of Easter egg packaging 100% recyclable.

Elsewhere, however, the report says that luxury eggs from Thorntons, Baileys and Marks & Spencer continue to rely on plastic packaging that is not recyclable in most local authorities, leaving consumers confused as to what is destined for landfill and what’s meant for the recycling bin.

In the case of Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference chocolate egg, incorrect information means thousands of plastic boxes may wrongly end up in recycling bins. The egg, packaged on a cardboard plinth in a plastic box, bears the widely recycled symbol. However, according to the On-Pack Recycling Label scheme, the only plastics widely recycled are bottles or jars.

While not readily available on the high street, Montezuma’s Easter egg is singled out as “a shining example” of best practice, based on an innovative design made of just two parts – a biodegradable outer shell and recyclable foil wrapping.

It came top of the list of 11 eggs for the least amount of packaging and recyclability, while at the bottom were a large Baileys egg with truffles and Sainsbury’s own-brand eggs.

Swinson said: “Since launching this report in 2007 the main chocolate companies have acted to reduce their packaging and improve recyclability. However, there are still a number of companies who rely too much on plastic and are sitting on their laurels.

“A few manufacturers are hiding behind green credentials with packaging that isn’t easily recyclable by the majority of consumers. Manufacturers know that their plastic boxes aren’t widely recycled and yet they continue to use them, despite other companies showing how Easter eggs can be packaged with a mind to efficiency and recyclability.”

David Rennie, managing director of Nestlé Confectionery UK and Ireland, said of its move to make its entire Easter egg packaging 100% recyclable by replacing rigid plastic with cardboard in its mug eggs: “Nestlé carefully considers the environmental impact of packaging as an integral part of its product design.”

Bob Gordon, head of environment at the British Retail Consortium, said retailers were not complacent: “First and foremost, Easter eggs are a gift and their packaging is an essential part of that. Nonetheless, retailers have made massive progress over recent years reducing the quantity of packaging involved, so much so that it’s now hard to take further dramatic strides.

“We’ve got our sights set on far bigger goals, such as reducing the carbon impact of all packaging by 10% in the next three years.”

Meanwhile, the Co-operative said it was stocking its so-called Real Easter Egg for the second year running due to demand. Made by the Meaningful Chocolate Company, it is claimed to be the only Easter egg to explain the Christian understanding of Easter on the box. It is also Fairtrade-certified, and supports charity and development projects.

David Marshall, director of the Meaningful Chocolate Company, said: “Prior to the launch of the Real Easter Egg, not one of the 80m Easter eggs sold every year mentioned the story of Easter.”

Best egg-to-packaging ratio

Montezuma Eco Egg


Marks & Spencer

Green & Black’s


Worst egg-to-packaging ratio






Garbage Fashion: T-Shirts Made From Recycled Bottles

Category : Business, World News

Clothing made from recycled plastic bottles are a hip fashion statement, though you can’t toss them in with the recycling

More: Garbage Fashion: T-Shirts Made From Recycled Bottles

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Rare earth recycling bill in works

Category : World News

The government has drafted a bill requiring consumers to make efforts to recycle used electronic products containing rare earth and other metals essential in producing hybrid motor vehicles and precision electronics, official sources said Thursday.
The government intends to secure the supply of rare earth, rare metal and precious metal resources through the recycling of used electronic products, such as mobile phone handsets and digital cameras, as Japan depends on imports for most of its needs.

Excerpt from: Rare earth recycling bill in works

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