Foam Packaging: Take the Bull by the Horns

New York City and Oxford are two prominent examples of local authorities that have tried to restrict the use of foam packaging for takeaway food and drink, arguing that doing so would reduce the environmental impact of waste in a way that alternative approaches could not. In both cases, the intervention of packaging manufacturers has lifted or watered down the rules. Other administrations might well be put off the idea of similar measures – but the argument for cracking down on foam packaging that almost unavoidably gives rise to regional waste management problems, as well as wider environmental degradation through its contribution to litter, remains hard to ignore. Bans, however, may not be the only option.

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Menace of Foam Packaging

A particular target for action has been expanded polystyrene (EPS). It’s rigid and a good insulator, and yet a great deal of it is air, making it very lightweight: it’s little wonder that EPS trays, cups and ‘clamshells’ are staples of the industry. It’s also widely used in pre-moulded form in the packaging of electronics, and as loose fill packaging in the form of ‘peanuts’.

While no-one would deny its convenience, for waste managers, EPS is a challenge, for many of the same reasons that it is popular. It’s light and difficult to compact, so it fills up bins and collection vehicles quickly; and takes up a great deal of space if you try to bulk and haul it for recycling.

It’s easy to see, then, why in 2013 New York City’s council voted unanimously to prohibit the use of EPS by all restaurants, food carts, and stores. Yet from the outset, the ban proposal faced stiff opposition from retailers and manufacturers, with packaging giant Dart Container Corp. and the American Chemistry Council reportedly organising a million dollars’ worth of lobbying against the legislation. Once it took effect, the industry quickly managed to overturn it in the courts last month.

Ban on the Run

The city had found that the recycling of EPS was not, in fact, environmentally effective, economically feasible and safe, and NYC was declared EPS-free in July 2015. But in a widely reported ruling, Justice Margaret Chan deemed the decision “arbitrary and capricious”: the complex case turned on the question of whether there was a recycling market for EPS, and the judge decided that Commissioner Kathryn Garcia of the city’s Department of Sanitation had failed to take account of evidence supplied by the industry that such a market did exist.

Although it lacked the courtroom drama of the New York City case, a similar story played out in Oxford last year. The city council proposed to use its licensing powers to require street traders to use only “biodegradable and recyclable” packaging and utensils. The move was stymied by semantics: the Foodservice Packaging Association lobbied for the phrasing of the proposed licensing rule to be amended to ‘biodegradable or recyclable’. That tiny change allowed continued use of expanded polystyrene, as it is technically recyclable (though certainly not biodegradable).

Oxford’s traders are also required to arrange for the correct disposal of EPS takeaway packaging from their premises. This is an odd requirement given that take-away food is usually – well – taken away, and then disposed of in street bins, household bins, or in no bin at all. Unfortunately, Oxford City Council – like almost every other council in the country – isn’t currently able to send EPS for recycling, so the EPS it collects will in practice end up in the residual stream. The EPS litter that escapes will linger in the environment for centuries to come.

Foam Suit

It seems that both courts and councillors have been impressed by the manufacturers’ argument: ‘Why ban a highly efficient product when you can invest in recycling it instead?’ However, there are three important points that count against this contention.

The first is that, whilst EPS can technically be recycled, the economics of doing so remain tenuous. Zero Waste Scotland’s report on Plastic Recycling Business Opportunities found that polystyrene waste compacting and collection was the only one of five options considered that did not represent a viable business opportunity in Scotland.

In order to make the finances of collecting EPS for recycling stack up in New York, Dart Corporation and Plastics Recycling Inc. had to offer to provide the city with $500,000 of sorting technology; pay for four staff; and guarantee to buy the material at $160 per tonne for five years. Without this (time limited) largesse, New York’s ban would likely have stood.

They also provided a list of 21 buyers, who they claimed would purchase dirty EPS – although when the city did a market test, it could find no realistic market for the material. It’s hard to know whose view of the US market is correct; however, in the UK, the market is definitely weak.

Of the 34 EPS recyclers listed by the BPF Expanded Polystyrene Group, 12 only accept clean EPS – ruling out post-consumer fast food waste. Another dozen will only accept compacted EPS, creating an extra processing cost for anyone attempting to separate EPS for recycling. That leaves a maximum of ten UK outlets: not enough to handle the potential supply, and leaving large tracts of the country out of economic haulage range for such a bulky, lightweight material.

Foam fatale

The second is that it’s difficult to get a high percentage of takeaway food containers into the recycling stream. Food eaten on the go is likely, at best, to go into a litter bin. And if it’s littered, because it’s light, EPS can also easily be blown around the streets, contributing to urban, riverine and ultimately marine litter. It’s also very slow to break down in the natural environment. Polystyrene has been found to make up 8% of marine litter washed up on North East Atlantic beaches; in all, plastics account for three quarters of this litter. The cost, particularly for coastal and island nations, is only beginning to be recognised.

That leads on to the third argument: while EPS undoubtedly works, less damaging alternatives are clearly available. Vegware, for example, allows takeaway boxes to be moved up the waste hierarchy – from disposal to composting. Reducing impacts was clearly a consideration in Oxford: in the words of Councillor Colin Cooke:

“It is about making the waste that we do have to get rid of more user-friendly and sustainable.”

The economic and technical difficulty in recycling EPS, combined with the long-term impacts of its littering and disposal, led Michelle Rose Rubio to conclude, in an Isonomia article last year, that environmentally minded people – and perhaps governments – should perhaps avoid it altogether.

Silver Lining

Despite the discouraging events in New York and Oxford, there’s better news from elsewhere. Bans remain in place in Toronto and Paris (both dating from 2007), while Muntinlupa in the Philippines, and the coastal state of Malaka in Malaysia have imposed charges, fines, and biodegradable replacements for EPS food packaging, eventually leading to bans.

Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has indicated that the Scottish Government is: “considering a number of options in line with the commitment in the national litter strategy to influence product design of frequently littered items to reduce their environmental impact… [W]e note a number of US cities have introduced bans on Styrofoam products, most recently New York City. We are keen to learn from these cities’ experience of introducing and implementing such bans.”

In Wales, a polystyrene ban petition lodged last year by Friends of Barry Beaches has been picking up support. The Foodservice Packaging Association’s pre-emptive opposition to the notion certainly suggests we haven’t heard the last of EPS food packaging bans in the UK.

However, bans are not the only way to deter the use of problem products. England has just joined the ranks of countries to impose a charge for single use plastic bags. Belgium has a tax on disposable cutlery, and Malta taxes numerous products on environmental grounds, including chewing gum and EPS clamshells. Whilst beyond the powers of local authorities, fiscal measures could drive change while being a bit less of a blunt instrument than a ban.

While EPS manufacturers may have scored some recent successes, they haven’t won the overarching argument. As we push towards a more circular economy, the pressure to reduce our reliance on materials that are inherently hard to recycle, which tend to escape into the environment, and which don’t decompose naturally, will grow. For EPS fast food packaging, the chips could soon be well and truly down.

Note: This article is being republished with the permission of our collaborative partner Isonomia. The original article can be found at this link.

Biomethane from Food Waste: A Window of Opportunity

For most of the world, reusing our food waste is limited to a compost pile and a home garden. While this isn’t a bad thing – it can be a great way to provide natural fertilizer for our home-grown produce and flower beds – it is fairly limited in its execution. Biomethane from food waste is an interesting idea which can be implemented in communities notorious for generating food wastes on a massive scale. Infact, the European Union is looking for a new way to reuse the millions of tons of food waste that are produced ever year in its member countries – and biomethane could be the way to go.

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Bin2Grid

The Bin2Grid project is designed to make use of the 88 million tons of food waste that are produced in the European Union every year. For the past two years, the program has focused on collecting the food waste and unwanted or unsold produce, and converting it, first to biogas and then later to biomethane. This biomethane was used to supply fueling stations in the program’s pilot cities – Paris, Malaga, Zagreb and Skopje.

Biomethane could potentially replace fossil fuels, but how viable is it when so many people still have cars that run on gasoline?

The Benefits of Biomethane

Harvesting fossil fuels is naturally detrimental to the environment. The crude oil needs to be pulled from the earth, transported and processed before it can be used.  It is a finite resource and experts estimate that we will exhaust all of our oil, gas and coal deposits by 2088.

Biomethane, on the other hand, is a sustainable and renewable resource – there is a nearly endless supply of food waste across the globe and by converting it to biomethane, we could potentially eliminate our dependence on our ever-shrinking supply of fossil fuels. Some companies, like ABP Food Group, even have anaerobic digestion facilities to convert waste into heat, power and biomethane.

Neutral Waste

While it is true that biomethane still releases CO2 into the atmosphere while burned, it is a neutral kind of waste. Just hear us out. The biggest difference between burning fossil fuels and burning biomethane is that the CO2 that was trapped in fossil fuels was trapped there millions of years ago.  The CO2 in biomethane is just the CO2 that was trapped while the plants that make up the fuel were alive.

Biofuel in all its forms has a bit of a negative reputation – namely, farmers deforesting areas and removing trees that store and convert CO2 in favor of planting crops specifically for conversion into biofuel or biomethane. This is one way that anti-biofuel and pro-fossil fuel lobbyists argue against the implementation of these sort of biomethane projects – but they couldn’t be more wrong, especially with the use of food waste for conversion into useful and clean energy.

Using biogas is a great way to reduce your fuel costs as well as reuse materials that would otherwise be wasted or introduced into the environment. Upgrading biogas into biomethane isn’t possible at home at this point, but it could be in the future.

If the test cities in the European Union prove successful, biomethane made from food wastes could potentially change the way we think of fuel sources.  It could also provide alternative fuel sources for areas where fossil fuels are too expensive or unavailable. We’ve got our fingers crossed that it works out well – if for no other reason that it could help us get away from our dependence on finite fossil fuel resources.

What You Need to Know About Food Waste Management

Food waste is an untapped energy source that mostly ends up rotting in landfills, thereby releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Food waste is difficult to treat or recycle since it contains high levels of sodium salt and moisture, and is mixed with other waste during collection. Major generators of food wastes include hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, residential blocks, cafeterias, airline caterers, food processing industries, etc.

In United States, food waste is the third largest waste stream after paper and yard waste. Around 13 percent of the total municipal solid waste generated in the country is contributed by food scraps. According to USEPA, more than 35 million tons of food waste are thrown away into landfills or incinerators each year, which is around 40 percent of all food consumed in the country.

As far as United Kingdom is concerned, households throw away around 4.5 million tons of food each year. These statistics are an indication of tremendous amount of food waste generated all over the world.

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Food Waste Management Strategy

The proportion of food waste in municipal waste stream is gradually increasing and hence a proper food waste management strategy needs to be devised to ensure its eco-friendly and sustainable disposal. The two most common methods for food waste recycling are:

  • Composting: A treatment that breaks down biodegradable waste by naturally occurring micro-organisms with oxygen, in an enclosed vessel or tunnel;
  • Anaerobic digestion (AD): A treatment that breaks down biodegradable waste in the absence of oxygen, producing a renewable energy (biogas) that can be used to generate electricity and heat.

Currently, only about 3 percent of food waste is recycled throughout USA, mainly through composting. Composting provides an alternative to landfill disposal of food waste, however it requires large areas of land, produces volatile organic compounds and consumes energy. Consequently, there is an urgent need to explore better recycling alternatives.

Anaerobic digestion has been successfully used in several European and Asian countries to stabilize food wastes, and to provide beneficial end-products. Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Germany and England have led the way in developing new advanced biogas technologies and setting up new projects for conversion of food waste into energy.

biogas-enrichment

Of the different types of organic wastes available, food waste holds the highest potential in terms of economic exploitation as it contains high amount of carbon and can be efficiently converted into biogas and organic fertilizer. Food waste can either be used as a single substrate in a biogas plant, or can be co-digested with organic wastes like cow manure, poultry litter, sewage, crop residues, abattoir wastes, etc.

Food waste is one of the single largest constituent of municipal solid waste stream. Diversion of food waste from landfills can provide significant contribution towards climate change mitigation, apart from generating revenues and creating employment opportunities. Rising energy prices and increasing environmental pollution makes it more important to harness renewable energy from food wastes.

Anaerobic digestion technology is widely available worldwide and successful projects are already in place in several European as well as Asian countries which makes it imperative on waste generators and environmental agencies in USA to strive for a sustainable food waste management system.

Food Waste Management in UK

Food waste in the United Kingdom is a matter of serious environmental, economic and social concern that has been attracting widespread attention in recent years. According to ‘Feeding the 5K’ organisation, 13,000 slices of crusts are thrown away every day by a single sandwich factory. More recently, Tesco, one of the largest UK food retailers, has published its sustainability report admitting that the company generated 28,500 tonnes of food waste in the first six months of 2013. TESCO’s report also state that 47% of the bakery produced is wasted. In terms of GHG emissions, DEFRA estimated that food waste is associated with 20 Mt of CO2 equivalent/year, which is equivalent to 3% of the total annual GHG emissions.

Food-Waste-UK

Globally, 1.2 to 2 billion tonnes (30%-50%) of food produced is thrown away before it reaches a human stomach. Food waste, if conceived as a state, is responsible for 3.3 Bt-CO2 equivalent/year, which would make it the third biggest carbon emitter after China and USA.

What makes food waste an even more significant issue is the substantially high demand for food which is estimated to grow 70% by 2050 due to the dramatic increase of population which is expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2075. Therefore, there is an urgent need to address food waste as a globally challenging issue which should be considered and tackled by sustainable initiatives.

A War on Food Waste

The overarching consensus to tackle the food waste issue has led to the implementation of various policies. For instance, the European Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC) set targets to reduce organic waste disposed to landfill in 2020 to 35% of that disposed in 1995 (EC 1999).

More recently, the European Parliament discussed a proposal to “apply radical measures” to halve food waste by 2025 and to designate the 2014 year as “the European Year Against Food Waste”. In the light of IMechE’s report (2013), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in cooperation with FAO has launched the Save Food Initiative in an attempt to reduce food waste generated in the global scale.

In the UK, WRAP declared a war on food waste by expanding its organic waste programme in 2008 which was primarily designed to “establish the most cost-effective and environmentally sustainable ways of diverting household food waste from landfill that leads to the production of a saleable product”. DEFRA has also identified food waste as a “priority waste stream” in order to achieve better waste management performance.

In addition to governmental policies, various voluntary schemes have been introduced by local authorities such as Nottingham Declaration which aims to cut local CO2 emissions 60% by 2050.

Sustainable Food Waste Management

Engineering has introduced numerous technologies to deal with food waste. Many studies have been carried out to examine the environmental and socio-economic impacts of food waste management options. This article covers the two most preferable options; anaerobic digestion and composting.

In-vessel composting (IVC) is a well-established technology which is widely used to treat food waste aerobically and convert it into a valuable fertilizer. IVC is considered a sustainable option because it helps by reducing the amount of food waste landfilled. Hence, complying with the EU regulations, and producing a saleable product avoiding the use of natural resources.

IVC is considered an environmentally favourable technology compared with other conventional options (i.e. landfill and incineration). It contributes less than 0.06% to the national greenhouse gas inventories. However, considering its high energy-intensive collection activities, the overall environmental performance is “relatively poor”.

Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is a leading technology which has had a rapidly growing market over the last few years. AD is a biologically natural process in which micro-organisms anaerobically break down food waste and producing biogas which can be used for both Combined Heat & Power (CHP) and digestate that can be used as soil fertilizers or conditioners. AD has been considered as the “best option” for food waste treatment. Therefore, governmental and financial support has been given to expand AD in the UK.

AD is not only a food waste treatment technology, but also a renewable source of energy. For instance, It is expected that AD would help the UK to meet the target of supplying 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Furthermore, AD technology has the potential to boost the UK economy by providing 35,000 new jobs if the technology is adopted nationally to process food waste. This economic growth will significantly improve the quality of life among potential beneficiaries and thus all sustainability elements are considered.

Food Waste Management

The waste management hierarchy suggests that reduce, reuse and recycling should always be given preference in a typical waste management system. However, these options cannot be applied uniformly for all kinds of wastes. For examples, food waste is quite difficult to deal with using the conventional 3R strategy.

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Of the different types of organic wastes available, food waste holds the highest potential in terms of economic exploitation as it contains high amount of carbon and can be efficiently converted into biogas and organic fertilizer.

There are numerous places which are the sources of large amounts of food waste and hence a proper food waste management strategy needs to be devised for them to make sure that either they are disposed off in a safe manner or utilized efficiently. These places include hotels, restaurants, malls, residential societies, college/school/office canteens, religious mass cooking places, communal kitchens, airline caterers, food and meat processing industries and vegetable markets which generate food residuals of considerable quantum on a daily basis.

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The anaerobic digestion technology is highly apt in dealing with the chronic problem of food waste management in urban societies. Although the technology is commercially viable in the longer run, the high initial capital cost is a major hurdle towards its proliferation.

The onus is on the governments to create awareness and promote such technologies in a sustainable manner. At the same time, entrepreneurs, non-governmental organizations and environmental agencies should also take inspiration from successful food waste-to-energy projects in Western countries and try to set up such facilities in cities and towns.

The Specifics of A Shipping Container Environment

The use of recycled shipping containers has found excellent footing in today’s society. There are so many different ways that the current modern system has created a new dichotomy of agriculture. If you are curious to understand the concept of the these containers and the specifics that come with them, keep reading!

Concept of Shipping Container Environment

This is the environment where old shipping boxes get used. They get planted crops and make sure that the food production would reach the market fresh and in the right order. There are many advantages to using such environment.

Advantages of Shipping Container Farming

A shipping container is an environment created to provide a complete farming experience and crop production system that aims to create a system that works all year round.

The yearly production is genuinely a pleasant experience as the countries can produce internally and importation of products as well as smuggling activities could be reduced.

The system uses an intelligent and super-efficient LED lights or grow lights that can substitute the sun’s rays. The entire container is equivalent to a farm that can produce up to two acres of crops.

The inside of the farm allows the produce to grow in an insulated environment that is around 40′ by 8′ by 9.5′. Most of the regions that would benefit from the farm system are the cold weather system countries. In these countries, producing food crops is a big problem. Shipping is also costly since importation is the only source of food.

With the use of farming containers, importation is cut down. The cost of using and maintaining a farming container is still cheaper by at least three times compared to the average consumption of most industrial food crop producers. It takes an average of kilowatts per hour of energy daily to maintain the farm. However, it is still more cost-effective to do it this way, especially for cold countries or those countries that have less agricultural lands available for them.

The price of obtaining a shipping container farm is not low. However, this price is worth the investment as the production is either increase or made possible. It is also more advantageous because it is less expensive to maintain a shipping container for him than one that is land-based or is naturally and agricultural land. On average, you should expect to spend around $50,000 to $85,000 to purchase one shipping container.

Some countries are considering requiring old shipping companies to donate or sell their old shipping containers to the governments in exchange for tax breaks. However, this policy is only a suggestion for most countries and is not yet get implemented.

Another great advantage of a shipping container for him is the fact that it is often compact. Because of its size or at least of its portability, there is a great advantage to it. It is easier to get transported from one place to another. It is also easier to have less footprint than using land-based crop production.

Zoning is also not a problem when it comes to containing her forms. Most of the companies that use this process can place their containers in both rural and urban areas. The reason behind this is the fact that there are no zoning laws against maintaining a repository in most areas.

Container farms also do not use new water. The creators of this modern technology got able to use recycled water to maintain the irrigation system within the container farms.

Vertical Growing: The Best Part of Container Farming

The best part of container farming is the fact that it uses a vertical system to grow the crops. Environmental sensors get used during the cycle of growth of the plants. These sensors allow for the farm system to control all of the essential factors in growing the crops.

The factors such as temperature, airflow, nutrient levels, humidity, as well as the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels get controlled.

The Future of Agriculture

Container farming can get considered as the future of agriculture. It provides for a modern and straightforward approach to crop production that reduces waste and cost for food suppliers. Importation could be a problem of the past for countries that are unable to produce their crops. However, since trade is a fundamental economic aspect of most countries, that will not fully illuminate the land-based agricultural production of crops.

Are Reusable Freezer Bags An Eco-Friendly Answer?

Everyone’s heard about the damage single-use plastic products are causing. But just in case you haven’t, here’s a quick rundown. Single-use plastic doesn’t biodegrade, and even when it does start to break down, it can still be extremely harmful.

Microplastics come from partially degraded plastic products, and it can be extremely harmful to both humans and animals. You see, microplastic can leach into the soil, which then pollutes any food that grows in the area. Worst of all, after heavy rain, the microplastic is picked up and washed into natural water sources.

And this is where the problem starts for animals; they mistake the plastic for food, which kills them slowly after digestion. The old phrase “You are what you eat” always comes to mind.

You see, because microplastics infect the food we eat, you are too. This is causing a lot more harm to the human body then ‘they’ would have you believe; here are a few of the side effects caused by plastic:

  • Genotoxicity
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Auto-immune conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • The list goes on

Luckily, people are starting to realize the harm single-use products are having on the planet. Even shops have started charging for plastic bags or stopped providing them full stop.

With one single-use enemy down, it’s time to begin the search for others. And is there any better place to begin than another plastic product, the freezer bag?

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Are Reusable Food Storage Bags Safe To Freeze?

Yes, reusable freezer bags are perfectly safe to use in the freezer. The reason for this is freezer bags are made with either Silicone or PEVA. These materials can withstand extremely cold temperatures, with some going as low as -51°f. In other words, these materials cannot freeze. Both materials are also food safe, which is necessary if you want to decrease your chemical intake.

Silicone freezer bags tend to be the favorite for most consumers for a few reasons:

  1. More Durable – Silicone is far more durable than PEVA, which means the bags will last longer without splitting.
  2. Withstands Heat – Many PEVA products cannot withstand high temperatures, which means you can’t deforest stuff in the microwave.
  3. Higher Food-Grade – A great benefit of using silicone bags is they can have a higher food grade, which means fewer chemicals are used.

In the end, whichever material you choose, you can rest assured knowing it’s safe to be storing your food in.

Recommended Brands

There’s plenty of freezer bags on the market for you to have a dabble with. The problem is, some of them don’t perform as well as others.

This is why this segment is devoted to bringing you the very best reusable freezer bags. So, without any more delay, let’s take a glance at the best freezer bags the market has to offer:

WOHOME Silicone Bags

As mentioned earlier, the freezer bags are made with silicone and come in a pack of six airtight bags. The bags come in four different colors, which helps you identify what you need from a packed freezer.

Because the bags are made with silicone, the bags can withstand extreme heat as well as the freezer. This gives you a few more options when it comes to cooking with the bags.

To seal the bags, they use a zipper system which ensures the freshness is locked into the bag every time. Another nice touch is having measurement markings on the outside; it makes it a lot easier to position your food.

Inspriratek PEVA Bags

They come in a set of six bags, and as a bonus, they also include two stainless steel straws to help you further reduce the amount of plastic you use.

eco-friendly-freezer-bags

Because the bags are made with 100% PEVA, you don’t have to worry about any dangerous compounds such as BPA or Chloride. This makes it a healthy and more environmentally friendly option to PVC bags.

Each freezer bag uses a double-slide zipper which ensures they stay completely leak-proof and lightweight. With the zipper closed, you can store up to one litre of food without any escaping or the bag breaking.

Ecomore PEVA Bags

With these freezer bags, you get seven in the pack, with each one holding one gallon of food, which is more than enough. They can be used to store meats, vegetables, and much more in the freezer or fridge.

The tight seal of which is provided by the zippers ensures your food doesn’t get any freezer burns and stays fresh at all times. They claim that each bag can replace other 350+ disposable plastic bags.

The PEVA is completely food-grade, so you don’t need to worry about any substances leaching into your food. One thing to mention is, these freezer bags do not perform well under high heat so you should avoid using them in the microwave.

Rounding Up

Single-use plastic products are extremely bad for the environment, which is why reusable freezer bags can be so beneficial.

You have to remember, plastic products don’t break down in the same way as natural materials, which is causing a nightmare for the trash system.

And it’s not just because they don’t biodegrade; it’s also because of the quantity that gets used. This is why using reusable items like these freezer bags can be very beneficial.

It can significantly reduce the amount of plastic you use in your household. And this can only be a benefit. Remember, single-use plastic is killing animals at an alarming rate and poisoning human food. Using reusable freezer bags can help to further eliminate this problem.

Sustainability Standards in Oil Palm Industry: An Overview

The palm oil industry is particularly involved in the development of sustainability standards. Driven by growing global demand, palm oil production has expanded rapidly in the last few years. Palm oil is the most widely consumed vegetable oil in the world, and its popularity has grown even more with the emergence of new market opportunities in the biofuels sector, in addition to its traditional food and oleochemical uses.

This strong growth has unquestionably contributed to the economic development of the main producer countries – Indonesia and Malaysia – which account for 87% of global production. Palm oil cultivation provides income for many smallholders, whose produce accounts for around 40% of world palm oil output.

Environmental and Socio-economic Concerns

However, the expansion of palm oil cultivation has also generated serious environmental concerns. It results in tropical deforestation and thus has a major impact on biodiversity loss, with the decline of emblematic species such as orangutan in Southeast Asia. It contributes to climate change through deforestation, but also through the conversion of peatlands, which are of vital importance in soil carbon sequestration.

The huge forest and bush fires in recent years in Indonesia which are associated with clearing lands for agricultural or forestry plantations caused severe air pollution and public health problems across the sub-region. In addition, industrial plantations are sometimes responsible for polluting waterways, into which chemical inputs and processing plant waste are dumped.

Moreover, this expansion has sometimes resulted in social abuses and human rights violations, in the form of land grabbing by plantation companies at the expense of local and indigenous communities or of the exploitation of plantation workers.

Sustainability Standards in Oil Palm Industry

Condemnation of these abuses by NGOs and growing consumer awareness of the adverse impacts of the expansion of palm oil plantation have driven the development of sustainability standards. Such standards are aimed at transforming production practices in order to mitigate their adverse environmental and social effects.

The expansion of palm oil cultivation in Southeast Asia has also generated serious environmental concerns.

In 2001, representatives of the food processing and distribution sector launched a dialogue with WWF and plantation companies, leading to the creation in 2004 of the first voluntary sustainability standard in the sector, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

There are now 2.41 million hectares of RSPO-certified plantations, while sustainable palm oil accounted for 20% of world trade in this product. Meanwhile, several other initiatives proposing a vision of palm oil sustainability have emerged, positioning themselves as either a complement or an alternative to RSPO.

New Challenges to Overcome

The development of these initiatives demonstrates the growing awareness among producers, the industry and the public authorities of the need to transform the sector to enable it to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But this proliferation of sustainability standards itself poses new challenges, even though the environmental and social problems that motivated their emergence remain unresolved.

At the institutional level, the proliferation of sustainability initiatives since the creation of RSPO reflects a real fragmentation of the regulatory framework. This proliferation also raises the question of the articulation of these voluntary standards with the public regulations and national sustainability standards that producer countries have adopted.

Finally, measures to ensure the sustainability of palm oil cultivation need to bolster their credibility by guaranteeing better inclusion of the millions of smallholders, and by contributing in an effective, measurable way to mitigating the adverse social and environmental impacts of growth in palm oil cultivation. In this field, the role of collaborative and multidisciplinary research in providing strong evidence-based impact evaluation of standards is crucial.

Advantages of Used Cooking Oil Recycling

Used cooking oil can be easily recycled. All that is required the availability of a recycling plant and the used cooking oil to recycle. It is not a difficult process and anyone who would want to venture into the industry can quickly learn how to do it. They can then source for the used cooking oil and they are in the business of recycling.

Here are some advantages of used cooking oil recycling.

For your business

If you own a business, used cooking oil recycling is here to help you. Used cooking oil can be recycled to become fuel. If you are in the transportation business, you now have cheaper fuel for your trucks.

used-cooking-oil

Further, in the agriculture industry, used oil recycling can be used to develop high quality organic fertilizer. This is fertilizer that you can trust to not only help produce healthy and nutritious crops but to also help balance and improve your soil in the long run. Organic fertilizer is much cheaper, and you can therefore make significant savings as you farm.

For your home

At home, used cooking oil recycling has numerous benefits. You will never again have your kitchen sink and drainage clogged by used cooking oil. Many people drain their used cooking oil down the sink which leads to clogging.

When you accept to be part of the people who want to have used cooking oil recycled, your recycling team will give you a container in which to pour your used cooking oil. Then you will agree on a day and time that they will come to collect it and leave you with another empty container.

For the environment

Another advantage of recycling used cooking oil is felt in the environment.

In many cities and municipalities, you will find numerous drainage systems full and overflowing.

A major cause for this pollution is used cooking oil. When it is drained in the sink at home and in restaurants, it gets into the sewage system, where it causes blockages that lead to overflow of sewage onto the city roads.

In addition to sinks, many landfills have lots of poorly disposed of used cooking oil. Recycling helps develop better methods of disposal, ensuring that none of the oil finds its way to landfills.

Recycled used cooking oil is also used as an alternative to biodiesel. It is much cheaper and easier to produce and does not affect the price and supply of food in a country or region.

For the economy

Recycling used cooking oil is also a boon to the economy.

With an improvement to the environment, it is likely that the country gets cleaner. This means that it can attract people from other countries to live, work and invest in your clean country.

biofuel-UCO

Used cooking oil recycling also creates jobs for hundreds of people. It creates new jobs for the teams of people collecting the used oil from homes and restaurants. It creates high level jobs for the scientists who understand the chemistry of turning used cooking oil into soap or fertilizer.

With the creation of new jobs, the economy will have more people engaged and more money circulating in it. As a result, there will be significant economic growth in the country driven by used oil recycling.

For your pets

Used oil recycling also has significant advantages to your pets and animals. Used cooking oil can be recycled and turned into healthy, nutritious, organic animal and pet feeds.

Recycled used cooking oil creates high quality fish feeds and dog food. It also creates high quality pig and cattle feed.

Conclusion

Recycling used cooking oil is full of advantages. It can be converted into many things that are useful at home and in industry. It helps bring about a cleaner environment with fewer overflowing drainage systems clogged by used cooking oil that was drained down the sink. It also contributes significantly in developing organic farming affordably.

Essential Vitamins for Vegan Diet

Eating a whole food plus plant-based diet is believed to contain all the nutrient required for your daily needs. Well, this is not entirely the case. When on a vegan diet, you might have the need to add supplements. Although some people advise vegans to not take supplements, this isn’t sound advice.

Vegans do not eat animal products and the practice of completely abstaining from eating animal products is called Veganism. When you are on a vegan diet, it means you are a strict vegetarian. All things animal and dairy like eggs, dairy products are completely abstained from.

Been on a vegan diet helps you lose weight. It is a good plan once in a while to use for overall body health. The possible downside to a vegan diet is there might be deficiency in vitamins in your body. There might be certain vitamins which your body can no longer produce because you do not eat the foods which your body gets this nutrients from.

This been said, there are some essential vitamins which vegan diets should have.

Vitamin D

This is called the fat-soluble vitamin. Its job is to aid the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from your gut. It is also one of the vitamins that guards important body functions like muscle recovery, memory, immune function and even your mood. Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins to have in the body for overall sound health. The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D for adults is 600 IU daily. Sadly, most foods do not contain enough vitamin D to meet this RDA.

One way by which you can up your daily intake of vitamin D is by been in the sun for a short while. A short while is between 12-15 minutes. You cannot have sunscreen on if you want to take this route. The negative effect of this route is excess UV radiation so it might not be best for you. So, the other option to make sure you get the recommended dietary allowance is by taking supplements. Consult you doctor before taking any form of medication.

Iodine

This aids in your metabolism and healthy thyroid function. Iodine is so important that mental retardation can occur in infancy from a lack of iodine in pregnancy. The negative effects of iodine in adults results in hypothyroidism. It manifests itself in dry skin, tingling in hands and feet, depression, weight gain, forgetfulness, low energy levels, seemingly loss of mind. With a report of people on vegan diets having a 50% lower blood iodine levels, it is crucial that you increase iodine intake. The recommended dietary allowance of iodine for adults is 150mcg daily.

If you say you can just get the required dietary intake from plants, yes this is true but, the iodine levels in the plant is dependent on the iodine levels of the soil the plant is gotten from. So, it follows that plants grown in areas that are dry would have less iodine, while does closer to the sea would have more iodine. Asides from plants, seafood contains iodine, dairy products contains iodine. Unfortunately a vegan diet does not include these foods. So, consider taking an iodine supplement to boost your iodine levels. Consult your doctor before starting any medication.

Vitamin B12

Because most of the vitamin B12 we consume are gotten from plants grown in vitamin B12 rich soil, most vegan diets believe this is something they shouldn’t bother about. Vitamin B12 is gotten from foods like chlorella, mushrooms, nori, unwashed organic produce etc. Sadly, this isn’t entirely the case. It is more that probable to have low levels of vitamin B12 while on a vegan diet.

Vitamin B12 is crucial for producing the cells which transport oxygen to our blood. So, s deficiency of this vitamin isn’t best for your overall health. The negative effects of lack of vitamin B12 are fatal, like heart disease, bone disease, anaemia, infertility, nervous system damage etc. the recommended dietary allowance is 2.4mcg daily for adults. When on a vegan diet, to get this RDA, you have to take a supplement. Consult your doctor before starting any medication.

Iron

The negative effects of insufficient iron in the blood is anemia. The function of iron in the body is to create new DNA in addition to creation of new red blood cells, oxygen transportation in the blood. Need more energy? You need more iron. The recommended dietary allowance is 18 mg for adults daily.

Iron is divided into two; heme and non-heme. Non-heme is gotten from plants while heme is gotten from animal products we eat. Of the two, heme is easily absorbed by the body so, when on a vegan diet you are advised to increase your intake of iron. To increase it eat food which are rich in iron like peas, dried fruit, cereals, nuts, seeds, breads, beans, etc. You can choose to take an iron supplement, but it is best to do so on the recommendation of your doctor, as an increase iron intake can have negative effects on your health.

There are some foods which are a great source of the essential vitamins which a vegan diet needs. These foods are hemp, flax, chai seeds, tofu, legumes, nuts, seeds, calcium-fortified plant milks, yogurts, seaweed, nutritional yeast, spouted and fermented plant foods, whole grains, cereals, pseudocereals, choline-rich foods, fruits and vegetables.

Final Words

From the above said, the best vegan multivitamin 2019 would be one which is duly recommended by your doctor to help meet your daily dietary levels of any of the vitamins. Although is seems like the disadvantages of been on a vegan diets is numerous, the advantages are also numerous. Such as, weight loss. We all at one point in time want to drop a few pounds and going vegan is a good way to start. Make sure you get professional medical opinion before embarking on any form of diet and regular check ups to ensure you are fine.