Musings, politics and environmental issues

Posts tagged ‘Denmark’

App scans for harmful chemicals

The Scan4Chem app, which was originally launched in Denmark in 2014 under the name of Tjek Kemien, has been replaced by a new version which this time will be Europe-wide.

Jointly developed by Germany, Sweden, Latvia, Austria, Spain, Poland, Czechia, Croatia, Portugal, Greece, France and Luxembourg as well as Denmark, the new version was launched in Sweden, Luxembourg and Germany in November 2019 but was launched this week in the other countries involved. During the next three years, the app will be developed for other countries so that eventually almost every European country will have its own version. The app is available from App Store and Google Play and is free of charge.

Originally, the app was developed by Danish Consumer Council Think Chemicals (DCCTC) and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, but now is being coordinated by AskREACH. Now, “500 million Europeans will be able to use the same app”, says Danish Environment Minister Lea Wermelin.

Suppliers of articles containing SVHCs (Substances of Very High Concern) have a duty to inform a consumer, if asked, if an SVHC is present at a concentration above 0.1 %, and the consumer must receive an answer within 45 days.

By scanning the barcode of a product, consumers send a request to the supplier to obtain information about the presence of SVHCs in the product concerned. The app scans information provided by the company about the product and can give the consumer an answer immediately. If information is not available for the product, the company will be notified via the app that information about the product concerned must be provided.

Consumers Europe-wide can help each other, says Anja Philip, President of the Danish Consumer Council: “If a German consumer has received an answer about a product, and if it is placed in the database of the company, then a Danish consumer will get the answer immediately when the product is scanned in Denmark.”

Products such as clothing, furniture, toys and electronics can be scanned with the app.

Claus Jørgensen, head of the DCCTC project, says that the original app was downloaded about 40,000 times and that when the app was overwritten, “officially yesterday”, they still had “between 500-1,000 scans per month” for the Danish app.

He says he believes the app “has raised awareness among consumers and companies. Unfortunately, companies chose to answer ‘around’ the app, so that the consumer received the answer, but the answer was not stored in our database for the benefit of other consumers scanning the same product”.

This was the reason for the development of the app Europe-wide, says Jørgensen: “The companies will now face many requests and it will be easier for them to put the data in the database than answering each person individually.”

At least 3 million European consumers are expected to download the new app, although potentially half a billion could do so. AskReach say that 13,460 have downloaded the app for Android and iOS in Sweden since it was launched there two months ago, but it has not been heavily promoted because they want to make improvements first.

Note that the app is not available for the UK – and whether it will eventually be available with Brexit about to happen is an interesting question.

A shorter version of this appeared today on the ENDS Europe website.

Radioactive caesium in Danish district heating residues linked to Chernobyl

Repercussions are still being felt from the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 in Ukraine, which at that point was still the USSR. See here for information in Danish.

Last year, radioactive caesium-137 was detected in ash from wood chips used in Danish district heating biomass plants. The wood chips were sourced from the Baltic countries, and the radioactivity is believed to have resulted from the nuclear accident. The burning process concentrates the radioactive material in the ash, which “might mean” that the ash must be treated as radioactive material according to Danish radiation protection law.

One of the district heating plants that use wood chips from the Baltics is Halsnæs Forsyning. There, about 30,000 tonnes of wood chips are handled annually, which results in approximately 800 tonnes of ash.

An Executive Order of the Danish Health Authority states that there are clear rules for how bio-ash should be handled and who is responsible. The individual district heating plant is obliged to know the ash content of radioactive substances.

The district heating organization District Heating DK have been researching the situation. Last year, a report that looked at 10 utilities showed that the radioactivity is so small that is is not likely to pose a health problem to workers or anyone else (!) but District Heating DK are doing another study that is designed to clarify the processes involved.

 

 

Electric cars on the rise in the Nordics

I went to the annual meeting of Orkustofnun, the Icelandic National Energy Authority, last week. Interesting. Two of the talks focused on electric vehicles (EVs) in the Nordic countries. A comprehensive report on EVs in the Nordic countries can be downloaded here.

Sweden and Iceland have both seen great growth in electric cars, but Norway is still the leader. However, publicly available chargers have not increased in line with the sale of electric vehicles. Though the majority of electric vehicle owners charge up their cars at home – 75% in Norway and 85% in Iceland – publicly available chargers are vital for those who travel long-distance and for holiday-makers who hire cars. The EU aims for one charger for every 10 EVs by 2020, and 4 million EVs on the road by 2030 which could save 8 megatonnes of CO2 equivalents. Denmark and Finland have already reached this target and Sweden is not far behind. Norway and Iceland, however, still have some way to go.

Exemptions on registration taxes are common in the Nordic countries. This helps to make them more attractive to consumers. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are preferred in Sweden, Iceland and Finland whereas battery electric vehicles are most popular in Denmark and Norway.

A recent survey showed that 43% of Icelanders would consider buying an EV in the future. Iceland is now installing more charging points, so it is now possible to drive around the island in an electric car without worrying about running out of battery. Because Iceland’s electricity is 100% renewable, the CO2 output of an EV in Iceland is virtually none.

Nevertheless, 40% of new cars in Iceland are bought by car rental firms. Icelanders then buy these cars as nearly-new a year or two later. These companies have been reluctant to take on vehicles using alternative fuels such as EVs, and thus the supply of these cars in the near future is likely to be limited.

Have the Danes learnt from Brexit?

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Copenhagen

Thousands of British people are now waking up to the reality of what an exit from the EU might mean. There had been warnings before the referendum, but the Leave faction had also given warnings, not to mention empty promises.

Can people learn from this? Maybe. In Denmark, a company called Voxmeter carried out an opinion poll a week before the Brexit referendum and another a week after it. The results were clear: Before the referendum, 40% of Danes said they wanted a referendum similar to Brexit and 60% wanted to remain in the EU while only 32% wanted one a week after the referendum and 70% wanted to remain in the EU. Before the referendum, 22% of Danes felt that Denmark is better off in the EU but two weeks later this figure had dropped to 18.2%.

The same trend has been seen in Sweden and Finland. In Sweden, support for ongoing membership of the EU increased from 49% to 52% while in Finland 56% wanted the country to remain in he EU whereas this figure was 68% after Brexit.

Icelanders have faced the opposite dilemma: whether or not to join the EU. It would be interesting to see figures now, in the light of Brexit.