Earth News|Collected: Mining banned in Zimbabwe national parks; Lego looking at alternatives to plastic; Dyson Award winning tyre attachment could reduce road transport pollution

Your weekly round-up of good news for the planet

Coal mining banned in all Zimbabwe national parks, after environmental campaigners take government to court

In a win for more than 40,000 elephants, the endangered black rhino and numerous other species, the Zimbabwean government has reversed a decision made in 2015 that would have allowed two Chinese firms to explore for coal at Hwange game park, by banning mining in all its national parks.

The move came after the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) filed papers in court on Monday, warning that coal exploration would bring “ecological degradation” to the parks, and that the park would turn into a “site for drilling, land clearance, road building and geological surveys”, devastating wildlife, and negatively affecting tourism. The ban went into immediate effect following a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Although mining rights were given to the two Chinese firms in 2015, with plans to mine the park in a joint venture with the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, exploration was only due to begin recently, leading to public outcry, with the hashtag #SaveHwangenationalpark trending on Twitter in Zimbabwe.

Lego to ditch plastic packaging after listening to its No1 customer – kids

Lego has pledged up to $400m over three years to improve its sustainability efforts, after it received letters from children, concerned about the level of single-use plastic packaging used by the brand. Instead, the company’s loose bricks will be packaged in recyclable paper bags, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, from 2021.

Lego bricks themselves are of course, also made of plastic, although the company has said it has already been exploring alternative materials for some time, has a goal of making all its packaging sustainable by the end of 2025 and is investing in educational programmes and efforts to make the company more sustainable in other areas.

Students’ tyre attachment design reduces road transport pollution, wins Dyson award

Did you know that pollution from tyre wear could be 1,000 times worse than what comes out of a car’s exhaust? Now, a group of Masters students from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art may have found a solution. The Tyre Collective has designed a device that captures the microplastic particles from tyre wear right at the wheel, potentially preventing pollution from the half a million tonnes of tyre wear produced across Europe from entering our waterways, the food we eat and the air we breathe.

The device, which has won The Tyre Collective a James Dyson award, is fitted to the wheel and uses electrostatic plates to collect particles as they are emitted from the wheel, currently capturing 60% of all airborne particles on a test rig, under a controlled environment.

The team’s five-year plan targets a pilot programme that aligns with with Transport for London’s vision of a zero emission fleet by 2030.

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