Sustainable ‘smartphones’ to save the environment

With the arrival of a new year, many take the opportunity to change habits or start new healthier ones, although it may also be a good time to add to the list of purposes those that can contribute to to save the planet, starting by our ‘smartphone’.

There are many daily actions that can be done to help protect the environment, such as recycling, avoiding wasting water or using the car less. However, we can also do it with technology.

According to a United Nations report, around the world approximately 50 million tons of electronic waste are generated per year, a figure that could triple by 2050.

In addition, despite its fall due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, in the second quarter of this year the worldwide sale of smartphones to end users registered a figure of 295 million units.

For this reason, there are several companies that have launched sustainable mobile phones, which offers a longer useful life with the aim of reducing the waste that is generated when replacing the ‘smartphones’ frequently, and which even offers the opportunity to replace some elements to update or repair them.


One of these companies is Teracube, which offers users warranties of up to four years -which cover any damage, at no additional cost to the user-, replaceable batteries and the use of recycled materials, all framed in the philosophy of “repair, do not replace”.

Teracube 2e was released in early October, includes the operating system Android 10 and it has a 1.8 Ghz octa-core processor, as well as 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage.

This device, which has been created from recycled materials and has a biodegradable shell, with a fingerprint sensor, face unlock technology and headphone jack. It also has a 4,000 mAh battery, it is easy to repair and can be found through Indiegogo for a price of 84 euros.


Another company that offers sustainable mobile phones is Fairphone, who designs “products with longer service lives and easy to repair“” We take care of reducing waste and making the most of what we already have, “the company says on its website.

The sustainable ‘smartphone’ Fairphone 3 arrived in Spain at the end of 2019 and incorporates a modular design consisting of a screen, battery and camera that can be repaired individually, helping to extend the life of the device and minimize its environmental impact.

Also, Fairphone phones, which use recycled materials, they have a 3,040 mAh battery that can last a full day, as well as 64GB of memory that can be expanded up to 400GB with an SD card.

This phone is available in two versions: the Fairphone 3, which has 12 and 8 megapixel cameras, and the Fairphone 3+, with a 5.65-inch Full HD + screen and 48 and 16MP cameras.

The Fairphone 3 can be obtained through the company’s website for a price of 419 euros, while the Fariphone 3+ is available at a price of 469 euros.

The company also has a recycling service for old mobiles, since, as they themselves point out, “the more we reuse and recycle, the less we will have to extract from the mines and manufacture”. In addition, in the event that a mobile of the brand is delivered, you can get a refund when you buy one of its latest models.


SHIFT6m is a German proposal that can be easily repaired. To do this, it has a modular design and easy access to the battery and the screen, since it only has one type of screw head that holds the device together and, in addition, the mobile case includes a screwdriver to be able to make repairs.

“Sustainability, repairability and fairness are not the main issues in the smartphone industry, but they are very important to us,” the company underlines on its website.

However, eThis device is not as easy to repair as the Fairphone 3as it has some overlapping components and short connecting cables.

The SHIFT6m has a 5.7-inch Full HD AMOLED screen and Gorilla Glass protection, a 4,242 mAh battery, a 21MP rear camera, a 13MP front camera and is available through the official SHIFT website for 555 euros. Its casing is also made of recyclable polycarbonate.


Girona’s traders hope to “half save” the sales during the week

First day of sales without crowds in the center of Girona and with quiet influx of customers despite new restrictions to curb the spread of covid-19. The merchants they hope to be able to “half save” the campaign with sales on weekdays, when they hope to be able to attract customers from neighboring towns who come to work in the city. However, the vice president of Girona Center Eix Comercial, Mercè Ramírez de Cartagena, stated that municipal confinement and closure on weekends will impact business. However, Ramirez de Cartagena stressed that lthe situation is “of uncertainty” and it will be necessary to wait a few days to check the consequences of the restrictions on trade.

During the first hours of the first day of sales, there were no crowds or long queues outside the shops in the center of Girona, however the streets were not deserted either. “There is movement, it is not an exaggerated movement, but there are people buying,” explained Ramírez de Cartagena.

Merchants in the city center admit that municipal confinement will impact sales volume, especially because will prevent residents of neighboring towns from going shopping in Girona. The vice-president of Girona Center Eix Comercial remarked, however, that what they expect will affect them the most is having to lower the shutters on weekends: “And especially this first Saturday, which is always the strongest day of sales.”

However, traders they hope to be able to “half save” the campaign with sales on weekdays. “There are people who move to Girona to work and can take the opportunity to buy, or people who used to go to Barcelona to shop for sales and will now stay in the city,” argued Ramírez de Cartagena.

It’s still early, they point out, to be able to make predictions but they do believe that the new restrictions “will affect a lot”. For this reason, they call, following the dynamics of Christmas, to bet on local trade when shopping for sales. “The new restrictions will hurt and this will not be compensated, but until the days are over we will not know to what extent,” he added.

Ramirez de Cartagena returned to make a call to the administration in Spain provide aid for the affected sectors for the pandemic: “We do not receive aid and we are a disadvantaged sector, we believe that here they can do something.”

As for Barcelona, ​​the start of the discount campaign was also marked by the pandemic and new restrictions. “The concept of sales has disappeared,” said Carme Rivera, as she walked through the center of Barcelona. Most consumers like her they took advantage of the day to make returns and changes before small businesses have to close on the weekend. The limitation of capacityt caused long queues outside of the shops, of up to half an hour of waiting. This image contrasted with the closure of shopping malls and stores of more than 400 square meters. “It’s a shame, both for consumers who can not see all the sales and for companies,” said Rodolfo Manrique.

“If the situation had been different, we would have taken the opportunity to go on sale, because we did for many years. This year, we are going with the urgency to return and we are finding that many stores are closed and we cannot make the return “, explained Rivera, who approached a sportswear business in Portal de l’Àngel. This consumer acknowledges that he is “afraid” of not being able to make the changes in time by the new restrictions and asks businesses to extend the usual deadline.


The Brexit pact will allow the agri-food sector in Girona to save 14 million

Girona’s agri-food sector will save 14 million euros in tariffs after the European Union and the United Kingdom reached an agreement for Brexit on 24 December. These are forecasts from Prodeca – the body of the Department of Agriculture Catalan food products and companies, which estimates the savings at 70 million in Catalonia as a whole. In his opinion, Brexit by agreement will cause Catalan agri-food exports to the United Kingdom to grow by almost 9% in 2021, maintaining the trend of recent years.

According to Prodeca’s director, Ramon Sentmartí, the agreement will allow Catalan producers to “breathe a sigh of relief” after months of “a lot of uncertainty”. “The best news is that there has been no news,” he added.

Over the last ten years, Catalan agri-food exports to the United Kingdom have grown by 66.5% in volume and have doubled in value. For Sentmartí, the British market is “very sensitive to the quality of products and their traceability”, two features that have made it a “very attractive” market for Catalan companies. In this sense, he stresses that a “non-agreement” between the United Kingdom and the European Union would have broken the trend of recent years and would have complicated the economic situation of several companies in the territory.

The United Kingdom is a major market for Catalan food exports. According to data provided by Prodeca, the United Kingdom is the sixth destination country for food and beverage exports in Catalonia, surpassed only by France, Italy, China, Germany and Portugal. In 2019, Catalonia exported food to the United Kingdom worth 548.7 million euros, a figure that represents 5.1% of its total food exports worldwide.

On the other hand, Catalonia is the United Kingdom’s 19th world supplier of food and the eleventh among EU countries. In fact, the British country imports more than 50% of the food it consumes, as its production is not enough to feed its population.

According to the latest available data (2019), up to 3,382 Catalan companies export to the United Kingdom, of which 16.5% belong to the food and beverage sector.

The Catalan food sectors that export the most to the United Kingdom are the so-called Fine Food (35.6%), which includes products such as preserves, ready meals or beer, among others, meat (31.24%), fruit and vegetable garden (11%), wine (8.6%), vegetable oils (5.1%) and fish (1.6%).

Although Prodeca celebrates that an agreement has been reached, they point out that there are still a number of issues to be resolved, whether in logistics, operational or bureaucratic management.

“One of the points that generates the most concern is the traffic at customs,” says Sentmartí. In relation to this issue, the director of Prodeca recalls that the Brexit agreement includes more than 2,000 pages and that it will take “a few months” to fully understand the whole small print. However, he says that the department is already organizing seminars to resolve any doubts that may arise.

For the time being, Prodeca recommends that companies be prepared for possible legal and commercial changes – such as changes in labeling, quality badges or brand registrations – and that they pay attention to the three different phases – January, April and July. in which more and more specific requirements and documentation will be requested.

The 27 states of the European Union yesterday gave the “green light” unanimously to the agreement reached on Christmas Eve with the United Kingdom on trade relations in the wake of Brexit, according to the spokesman for the German presidency. EU, Sebastian Fischer. “The ambassadors unanimously approved the provisional implementation of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement from 1 January 2021,” Fischer said in a tweet. The British House of Commons is expected to approve the pact on Wednesday, and the final approval of the European Parliament, which will not arrive before the end of the year, will also be pending. That is precisely why the agreement will be applied on a “provisional” basis on 1 January.


A controversial question “to save the master of noon” in “The 12 blows of noon”: “Just a shame!”

“Which number does the Villebois-les-Pins postal code start with, in the Drôme?” This question immediately caused controversy on social networks.

Indeed, the village of Villebois-les-Pins is located in Drôme, so it should be easy for a French candidate to know the answer thanks to the department number (26). However, the postal code of this village begins with 05 because the town depends on a post office which is located in the neighboring department of Hautes-Alpes (05).

Viewers called this question a trap, to favor the current noon master.


EU and UK make one last effort to salvage ‘post-Brexit’ negotiations

Negotiators from the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom met this Sunday in Brussels for two days of talks, considered a last effort to try to reach a ‘post-Brexit’ trade agreement and avoid an abrupt divorce, with serious economic consequences. They came with the recommendation of the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to try to make a final effort to reach an entente.

Both leaders spoke by phone on Saturday and then issued a joint statement in which they stated that, while acknowledging the persistence of “important differences”, they agreed that their negotiating teams “should make an additional effort to assess whether they can be resolved.” Von der Leyen and Johnson will meet again by phone this afternoon and then the 27 EU leaders will meet in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day summit planned to address their budget, but which will once again be clouded by concerns from the EU. ‘Brexit’, says Afp.

“We are going to work very hard to reach an agreement,” promised British chief negotiator David Frost on arrival in the Belgian capital, where he resumed talks that broke down on Friday after an unsuccessful week in London. “Let’s see if we can move forward,” warned, for his part, on Saturday night the European Michel Barnier in a tweet, expressing his caution about the outcome of this new round of talks.


David Frost – British negotiator.

“We will work very hard to reach an agreement”

Michel Barnier – EU Negotiator.

“Let’s see if we can move forward”

“We are probably in the last days in terms of being able to decide if there can be an agreement,” George Eustice, the British Environment Minister, also estimated in a statement to the BBC.

The teams led by Barnier and Frost are now in a desperate race against the clock to find an agreement on the future commercial relationship, as the United Kingdom will leave the single market and the customs union on January 1, 2021, after the transition period ends.

The negotiations are bogged down by differences on three issues: fishing rights, competition and state aid, and legal management of the eventual agreement on their ‘post-Brexit’ relationship, in particular the dispute settlement mechanism.

If no agreement is reached, trade relations between the EU and the United Kingdom will be governed from January 1 by the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), synonymous with tariffs and quotas,


Tips to save up to 4,500 euros on your income tax return

Technicians from the Ministry of Finance (Gestha) advise taking advantage of the final stretch of the year to save up to 4,569 euros in the next income tax return, although they clarify that the greater tax advantages benefit taxpayers with more income and wealth and those who have savings available to reduce their tax bill. Thus, people with incomes over 600,000 euros a year will be able to lower the tax bill to 76,500 euros, compared to people with annual incomes of less than 21,000 euros, whose tax advantage does not reach 1,700 euros.

Gestha usually points out that in the last months of the year it is advisable to make contributions to pension plans or insured pension plans in order to achieve tax savings in next year’s income tax return. However, this year will be the last in which the taxable base of personal income tax can be reduced to 8,000 euros, provided that these contributions do not exceed 30% of income from work and economic activities, because the bill of the General State Budget for the year 2021 plans to reduce this limit to 2,000 euros while maintaining the percentage limit of 30%.

Therefore, in the event that it is planned to make this type of contribution, it is preferable not to wait until 2021, since if they are contributed from January, the limit will be 2,000 euros.

On the other hand, those who bought their usual home or made some payment for its construction before January 1, 2013 will continue to enjoy their right to tax. In this way, these taxpayers can deduct up to 15% of the amounts invested, with an investment limit of 9,040 euros.

Technicians also point out that profits from the sale of the usual home for taxpayers over the age of 65 or for severely dependent or severely dependent people are exempt. Likewise, profits obtained by those over the age of 65 from the sale of any property are exempt from taxation, provided that the total amount, up to a maximum limit of 240,000 euros, is used to constitute a life annuity insured within a period of six months.

On the other hand, they claim that being a stock investor can not only mean profits, but also losses. Therefore, Gestha warns that the end of the year is a good time to take stock and offset the losses generated by an investment fund, shares or financial derivatives with the capital gains obtained.

Treasury technicians also recommend planning the sale of shares and point out that taxpayers who anticipate that their net income from work will be less than 16,825 euros should ensure, as far as possible, that there is no income from another type, such as capital gains from the sale of shares or income from real estate rents, in excess of 6,500 euros, as in this case they would lose a reduction in income from work that can reach up to 5,565 euros.

Stock sales may also require many taxpayers to declare that they would not be required to declare with income from work below € 14,000 with more than one payer, or if there is only one payer up to € 22,000 to workers residing in the common regime autonomies.


Find out how to save on your electricity bill

Bassols Energy offers a new energy information service to its customers. It is a new tool designed with the aim that customers can better understand and manage their energy consumption. And it does not stay here, but analyzes the energy consumption of customers and offers them an optimization proposal so that they improve the efficiency of their electricity consumption and save on their bill.

The new service is implemented once the new model of smart meters in the sector that allow to analyze the data of the electrical consumption of the customers. All Bassols Energia customers have this data at their disposal through yours Virtual office where they can know their electricity consumption curves (daily, weekly, monthly and yearly), in addition to the power consumed monthly.

Bassols Energia makes a study, analyzes them and offers them an optimization proposal so that the customer saves on their energy costs.

Now Bassols Energy takes a step further and not only makes available to the customer the data of its electricity consumption, but in makes a study, analyzes them and offers you an optimization proposal because the customer save in your energy expenditure, changing the rate and / or power you have contracted and pay only for what you need and always enjoying the best price. In addition, Bassols Energia regularly sends customers energy saving reports to improve consumption efficiency, with energy saving tips.

The new electricity optimization reports are available to customers from their Virtual Office and Bassols Energia periodically sends them to users.

With this new service, Bassols Energia continues to offer a close service to the customer and a personalized treatment, with the best advice and the most cutting-edge services. With Bassols Energia, customers have the closest energy, more services, more proximity and paying only for what they consume and always with 100% green energy.


Iranian President and Biden bet on saving nuclear deal

In the absence of direct contacts, Hasan Rohani and Joe Biden sent their first messages through the media and social networks to try to save the nuclear agreement. Twenty-four hours after Parliament in Tehran gave its preliminary approval to a law to end inspections of nuclear facilities, President Hasan Rohani showed his opposition to this decision of the House and his Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, tended shaking hands with the new US administration to return to the nuclear agreement signed in 2015, but made it clear that “we will not renegotiate an agreement that we already negotiated.” In remarks to ‘The New York Times’, Biden admitted that “it will be difficult”, but insisted that his intention is to offer Iran a “credible path back to diplomacy.”

The Iranian parliament reacted to the assassination of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fajrizadeh by passing a law to limit the work of researchers at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) if sanctions are not lifted within two months. This is a symbolic measure since parliament has no authority over the country’s nuclear policy, which is the responsibility of the National Security Council. Rohani criticized this chamber agreement “because it is detrimental to the path of diplomatic activities.” The moderate cleric based his victory at the polls in the last two elections on the benefits that this agreement should bring to the country, but the last four years of Donald Trump and sanctions have sunk the economy of the Islamic republic.

Race against the clock

The tandem formed by Rohani and Zarif, architects of the nuclear agreement signed in 2015 when Barack Obama was in the White House and Biden was his number two, has just six months left to try to revive the agreement. Iran holds elections in June and everything indicates that, as happened in the legislative elections, the ultra-conservative current prevails. The countdown is on and Biden knows he will have to deal with the situation quickly. “There is a lot of talk about precision missiles and a whole range of other things that are destabilizing the region … but the best way to achieve some stability” is to deal with “the nuclear program” in Tehran, declared the next US president in the interview granted to the New York newspaper.

The Iranian foreign minister picked up Biden’s glove and asked him to leave behind forever “the dishonest policy” of his predecessor. Despite the Iranians following through on everything, according to IAEA reports, Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed sanctions. Faced with the demands made by Trump on the need to extend the terms of the agreement to the ballistics program, the Iranian diplomat was clear and said that “the United States must cease its violations of international law. No further negotiation is required. ‘ Faced with the imposition of punishments, Iran has taken a series of steps that move it away from the agreed text, but the government insists that they are reversible and will once again respect everything agreed upon as soon as Washington withdraws the sanctions.


The largest humanitarian operation in history: Save the most disadvantaged from Covid-19

To stop the pandemic of the century will require a titanic effort around an increasingly globalized world, because it will not be enough to distribute the vaccine in the United States or Europe if the borders are to reopen and return to normality. Only the UN is prepared to carry out a “gigantic” operation, for which an actor has already been selected: UNICEF.

The UN’s children’s arm has the most experience in delivering vaccines, routinely dealing with vaccines for various infectious diseases, such as measles, diphtheria and tetanus. It is, in fact, the largest buyer of vaccines in the world. Every year it distributes 2 billion vaccines but in 2021, if expectations are met, it will have to double its capacity to distribute another 2 billion doses of the Covid vaccines in which different pharmaceutical companies work. The challenge will be to incorporate this huge number of new doses into your operations without affecting existing operations for other diseases, which cannot be triggered now.

The agency announced this Monday that it is in talks with different airlines to organize this monumental logistics operation to guarantee “equitable and fair access for every country in the world,” he said in a statement. For that, it will be necessary to work with the public and private sector in the international sphere, which includes shipping companies, cargo companies and some 350 organizations in the logistics sector. “We need to put all our hands to work if we want to have the vaccines and protective equipment ready for the health sector staff who are responsible for providing them,” explained Etleva Kadilli, the director of the Agency’s Supply Division.

The United States already made the mistake early in the pandemic of rejecting the diagnostic kits that the World Health Organization (WHO) made available to the international community in January. With the nationalism of “America First” in mind, President Donald Trump insisted that such an operation had to be done with American companies, which had not yet developed it. The first batch that began shipping on February 5 resulted in contaminated tests, which forced them to be removed from the laboratories and severely limited access until the end of March. A precise time for the virus that has infected 12.5 million Americans.

With a new president at the helm, no one expects to repeat that mistake. Unicef ​​says it is already negotiating with different airlines to be able to distribute the huge amount of 2 billion doses of the vaccine in which everyone has hopes. Some of these versions, like those developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, they will need to be kept at 70 degrees below zero, which requires a cooling capacity that many underdeveloped countries do not have. This will require a great deal of coordination that will also include the shipment of a billion syringes and other materials necessary to carry out the global immunization process.

Quickly and safely

The UN body will deal with 92 low- and middle-income countries but will not close the doors to anyone. The greatest challenge in this “historic and huge operation,” said the UNICEF director, will be to ensure sufficient transport and refrigeration capacity “in the fastest and safest way possible.” As endorsement, it alleges that since January it has already sought the distribution of masks, oxygen tanks and diagnostic tests worth 190,000 million dollars, in coordination with the WHO. That is the key word, “coordination,” the agency has insisted. “Support from governments, the private sector and partners will be crucial,” Kadilli warned.

It will also have to be done in record time, which is why since last month it has begun to store millions of syringes that it is pre-positioning for when the vaccine arrives. Its staff also works to identify possible interruptions that may exist in the transport chain with the idea of ​​having everything ready for rapid deployment. The first manufacturers to participate will be those that have an agreement with the COVAX facilities, a global initiative formed by the 64 largest economies on the planet, including 29 European ones, which have committed 1,400 million dollars. Nine manufacturers of the most advanced vaccines belong to the countries of this initiative and another 38 countries are in the process of joining.

Will be un hito for the world of global health that could serve to regain the credibility that the UN has lost in recent years and bring a new awareness of the need for multilateral institutions.

The US hopes to achieve herd immunity in seven months

Given the uncontrolled advance of Covid-19, which has already infected twelve million people in its territory, the United States plans to start a massive vaccination campaign in mid-December with the hope of achieving herd immunity in May. US drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Friday asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve their product. According to the clinical trial carried out since July among 44,000 volunteers in various countries, it would be 95% effective, without serious side effects.

The US agency announced on Sunday that a public meeting of its vaccine advisory committee will be held on December 10 to consider the application, although its opinion will be advisory. The decision to authorize the vaccine or not will depend on FDA scientists and could be made in the first half of December. “Our plan is to send the antivirus to the vaccination centers within 24 hours after approval” by the FDA, said Moncef Slaoui, the head of this US agency. He is confident that 20 million people could get vaccinated in December, and about 30 million a month afterward.


The attempt to save the Arcelor steelworks in Gijón, doomed to failure


Tension at the start of negotiations with Arcelor

The meeting between ArcelorMittal management and the unions to seek a solution for the Gijón steelworks -in lockout since Thursday afternoon- is on the way to failure. The unions that had called the strike in this workshop and that had led the steelmaker to take the drastic decision to close it to try not to damage the machinery, CC OO and CSI, deemed the company’s offers insufficient.

There are no, the unions argued, sufficient reasons to suspend the strikes. For example, they point out that their proposal to restart the negotiation of the long plan from scratch is not accepted. The company understands that enough progress has been made in previous meetings that it does not have to go back.

Union representatives also criticize that the steelmaker refuses outright for a neutral company to audit long shops. However, the company flatly refuses.