Friday, May 06, 2011

Greenwashing The Guardian

One of the best newspapers for environmentalism is Britain's The Guardian, successor to the legendary Manchester Guardian.  It has a solid environmental desk staffed by excellent writers including George Monbiot.   But even The Guardian can be taken in by greenwash.

The story sounded great.   A gaggle of Scottish distilleries announced they were going to use the bio-waste from Scotch whiskey production to fuel a thermal-electric power station.  The "draff" would be mixed with wood chips and then burned to fuel boilers driving generators.

It all sounded too good to be true - and it is.  Readers began pointing out that, previously, the distillers paid to have the waste hauled away but it was then turned into cattle feed.   Now that source of cattle feed will instead be incinerated meaning other forms of cattle feed will have to be produced and imported.

At the end of the day what the story really came down to had nothing to do with the environment.   The distillers had simply found a more profitable way of disposing of their biowaste.

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