Stockpiles of nuclear fuel, Sweden considering the world's first digital currency and some much needed positive news for the Greek economy feature in this round up of the world's supply chain and procurement sector...
The amount of plutonium the UK will be left with in 2020 after reprocessing operations are completed. Once envisaged as the fuel for fast breeder reactors, plutonium is now being stockpiled at Sellafield. The UK will have the largest stocks of civil plutonium and experts say that existing plans to immobilise it, based in part on a solution the US has abandoned, need to be reconsidered in the interests of safety and cost. It is tempting to shoehorn the Johnny Carson gag – “What’s all this fuss about plutonium? How can something named after a Disney character be dangerous?” – in here, but let’s not do that.
American cities passed measures to tax sugary drinks in the recent elections. Three of them were in California: San Francisco, Oakland and Albany. The other was Boulder, Colorado. A similar tax was already in place in Berkeley, California, where one study suggested that consumption of sugary drinks has fallen by 20%. The American Beverage Association, which spent $9.5m opposing the measures with a Don’t Tax Our Groceries campaign, attacked this “middle class tax” and said it is reducing calories and sugar from its drinks.
Decline in circulation of notes and coins in Sweden since 2009. This trend – and the fact that Swedes also use cards to make payments three times as often as the European average – has prompted Riksbank, Sweden’s central bank, to publicly announce it is considering becoming the world’s first central bank to launch its own digital currency, the e-krona. The Riksbank says it will not phase out coins and notes and plans to issue them for as long as there is demand.
The number of times the tape used to deliver parcels in China in 2015 would go around the equator. Last year, 9.9bn packages were delivered but only 20% of the packaging was recycled. The rest went to landfill sites. Even though some suppliers, such as Alibaba’s courier service Cainiao.com, have promised to use 100% biodegradable material by 2020, the government is considering making this mandatory.
Invasive, imported plants catalogued by biologists which form a serious threat to Siberia’s natural environment. One of the most dangerous is the ash-leaved maple which was actively cultivated in the 1960s, before scientists realised that after felling, it displaced native forest species. Blueweed can turn cattle pastures into meadows that are unsuitable for grazing while some mushrooms carry parasites that cause wheat rust. The list of 146 non-native species – and the 58 that are most dangerous to local plants – took 25 biologists three years to complete.
As GDP quarterly growth goes, 0.5% might sound feeble but it is unexpected good news for Greece, a country long depicted as an economic basket case. The 0.5% increase in the Greek economy in the third quarter of 2016 is 1.5% up year-on-year and follows a 0.3% rise the previous quarter. This is the first time the Greek economy has enjoyed two successive quarters of growth since 2006. The government hopes for more good news from Barack Obama’s visit, believing the outgoing US president will help them secure a better deal on debt relief.
The time it took Wuhan Asia-Europe Logistics to deliver 14,000 bottles of Bordeaux wine from Lyon to Wuhan, the most populous city in central China, by train via Russia. Air cushions were used to minimise vibrations that might disturb the bottle. The journey normally takes 35 days by sea.
Donald Trump masks a day being produced by Ogawa Studio in southern Tokyo. During the campaign, demand was a steady 45 a day but the company can now barely keep up with demand for rubber masks of the president-elect’s face. Trump’s hair and facial expression are sprayed on while the blue-eyes are painted by hand. The masks cost around $22 and are very popular partywear.