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.

foam-packaging-waste

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.

What is Tire Recycling and How To Do It?

The old tires of your Subaru Forester are now worn out and no longer safe to be used on the road, says your mechanic. You’ve started shopping for new tires. But you wonder—what can you do with those old tires?

You can recycle it!

Tire recycling is the most practical and environment-friendly way of disposing of old and worn-out tires. Due to their inherent durability, large volume and environment and health risks, tires are one of the most problematic sources of solid wastes. Around the world, an estimated 2.5 million tires are thrown away yearly. With rubber recycling, tires can be given a new lease of life.

Benefits of tire recycling

Tire recycling can have numerous benefits not only for vehicle owners like you but also for the communities. For one, it can conserve landfill space. Because of their round and hollow shape, tires can take up significant space in landfills. Eliminating bulky items like tires can leave space in landfills for other things that cannot be easily recycled.

Tire recycling can also create new, beneficial products. Tire-derived fuel (TDF) is an example which is produced by subject scrap tires to high-temperature pyrolysis. This is reputed to be more energy-efficient than normal fuel. It also releases minimal emissions. Other useful products created from recycled tires are playground turf, railroad ties, and rubberized asphalt.

This process can also help in preventing the spread of diseases. Discarded old tires can provide a nesting place for rodents and mosquitoes. By recycling old tires, those pests can be eliminated. Consequently, diseases brought about by said animals can be prevented.

How to recycle tires

So, how do you recycle your old tires? One is to check with your local government about drop-off depots where you can bring your old tires for recycling. You may also bring those tires to household waste recycling centers.

These tires will then likely be packed and sent to processing plants, where they will be cut into smaller pieces by cut shredders. This is aimed at reducing the tire volume and creating a material that can be easily handled.

The end-product is a raw material that can be utilized for TDF, the most developed market for old tires in the United States. It is widely used in the country as a supplemental fuel by industries cement kilns, paper mills, and electric utilities, among others.

Tire shreds are then processed to remove the tire wire, which adds to the resilience, versatility, and strength of the tire. The wire is removed and recycled; often brought back to steel mills as these can be used in manufacturing new steel.

The remaining rubber is then screened to ensure that it is free from wires and other contamination. Afterward, the rubber is cleaned using water and other cleaning agents. Clean rubber is then packed and brought to other factories in need of rubber as raw material such as rubber shoe manufacturers.

Recycled rubber is also used in other ways such as ground rubber applications such as asphalt rubber, animal bedding, and synthetic sports field underlays. Asphalt rubber is widely used in Arizona, California, and Florida, for instance.

Other rubber by-products can be reused in various shapes and forms. For example, fiber and nylon make up nearly 15% of a tire. When extracted from old tires, these materials can be used in the manufacture of concrete, fiberglass, stucco, caret, and cleanup materials.

Rubber powder can also be derived from recycled tires. This high-performance but affordable material is used in creating sealing products, plastic, and rubber. It is a sustainable material with no adverse effects on

Other DIY ways to recycle tires

Yet DIY tire recycling can also come in other forms. You can reuse your old, worn-out tires in different ways.  One of the oldest ways to recycle old tires is to use them as tire swings. You can paint it first before hanging the tire on a tree. If you have many trees around your yard, you can hang a couple of old tires to create an entire swing set. This is an old-fashioned way to create a playset for your kids at home.

Tires can also be reused into tire climbers. Instead of spending several hundreds of dollars in a jungle gym, you can use old tires into a tire climber. Again, paint them first with bright colors. Bolt the tires together to make the tire climber safer for kids to play with.

You can also reuse old tires into a sandbox. This is particularly recommended if you have big tires like tractor tires. Put together several tractor tires in your yard and pain them. This is a nice way to thrill the kids during the summer.

An old tire can also serve as a hose caddy. Instead of leaving your garden hose and increasing its chances of getting damaged, you can secure it with a hose caddy made of an old tire. This is simple to do—cut the tire in half and coil the garden hose inside it. You may even paint the tire so that it would match your outdoor décor.

Finally, you can reuse tires into planters. There may be some cutting involved so prepare tools such as saw and hammer. Again, painting the tire may be optional. You can make several planters depending on the number of old tires you have.

There are other creative tire recycling ideas that you may explore such as turning old tires into chairs, welcome mats, dog bed, and see-saws.

Conclusion

As you can see, old tires don’t have to end up in the landfills. Tire recycling is the best and most ecologically-sound way of disposing of old tires.

There are many ways to recycle old tires. You can bring your old tires to a household waste recycling center where these are collected and segregated before being processed into various by-products.

You can also recycle tires through DIY projects. From tire planters to tire climbers, the possibilities are endless as far as recycling and reusing old and worn out tires are concerned.

5 Benefits of Biodegradable Packaging for Businesses

Consumers want companies to reflect their values. They’re far more likely to purchase from a business with an identity, whether it manifests in charitable efforts or eco-friendly practices. As a greater number of people show interest in green living, biodegradable packaging presents an opportunity for growth.

That said, the virtues of biodegradable packaging extend beyond an improved public image. While business owners enjoy the superficial advantages of this transition, they often find it’s only a fraction of what the shift entails. Through switching to biodegradable plastics, they see considerable changes elsewhere.

bioplastics

In this article, we’ll detail five of those changes, exploring the subject to lend business owners a better understanding of biodegradable packaging within their operation. As we touch on the benefits, it’ll become clear that eco-friendly materials aren’t only better for the environment, but better for a company’s bottom line.

1. Free of Toxins & Allergens

Biodegradable packaging options are still somewhat limited, but most of the available materials are non-toxic and allergy-free. This is an essential consideration to consumers who care about the products they’re purchasing and the composition of their packaging. If either is potentially harmful, it hurts a business.

As often as businesses must send packages, forms, and other important information through the mail, packaging with the planet in mind and protecting your items is key. For example, your car accident lawyer in Queens may need to send you important documents through the mail. Getting your mail in safe, low-waste packaging can protect your health from harmful chemicals, aid the planet, and provide their clients with all they need to know.

An informed consumer will almost invariably choose products packaged with bioplastic over traditional alternatives, aware of the implications of their purchase. Considering the negative health effects of phthalates — a common chemical in plastic packaging — business owners should be aware of the implications as well.

2. Require Fewer Resources

Biodegradable packaging has the potential to reduce water usage, solid waste, electricity and emissions. This is beneficial for the environment, of course, but it also lowers expenses associated with the packaging process. Over time, the accumulated savings prove well worth the cost of the transition.

If a company were to replace their standard packaging materials with bioplastic, they would enjoy weight savings on par with regular plastic. Research shows plastic packaging enables weight savings of over 78 percent compared to alternative materials, a notable statistic for business owners looking to convert.

3. Lower Production Costs

Most biodegradable materials follow the three basic R’s of sustainability.

  1. A business can reduce them, using fewer resources to create thinner and tougher materials which do the same job.
  2. A business can reuse them, taking advantage of materials with special coating which improves their durability.
  3. A business can recycle them, diverting refuse from landfills as they minimize the costs of new materials.

A business owner who invests in biodegradable packaging can cut costs by a significant margin, using fewer resources, reusing their inventory and purchasing inexpensive recycled materials. In doing so, they’ll see reduced packaging expenses over time, and more freely allocate their money elsewhere.

biodegradeable-packaging

Reusing packaging is proving to be not only environmentally friendly, but an excellent marketing advantage. From Pinterest to Instagram, users are finding a way to re-purpose packaging. Business owners who are vocal in encouraging their customers to prioritize environmentally friendly choices can earn more goodwill and local business as a result. ToolTally is a good example of a blog that focuses on helping DIYers reuse products, and is growing an organic following as a result.

4. Reduced Footprint

A business owner has financial goals they have to meet, but they have environmental goals as well. Every professional in an upper-management position has a responsibility to ensure their company meets high standards of environmental compliance, and biodegradable packaging can help — outside a legal context.

To reinforce an earlier point, 70 percent of consumers between the ages of 15 and 20 want to buy goods from companies committed to sustainability, and biodegradable plastics affect the appeal of businesses which would otherwise see less attention. To reduce emissions and increase interest, change is necessary.

5. Convenient Disposal

Recyclable, compostable and biodegradable packaging simplifies disposal for the consumer. It affords them more options in discarding these materials, and companies should always seek to make their products convenient, from start to finish. Biodegradable materials exemplify this mindset.

For example, consumers who prefer to compost their refuse won’t have to make exceptions for packaging. They can add biodegradable packaging to their compost in much the same way they would with any other compost-friendly material, contributing to the product’s value beyond its primary utility.

Looking Toward the Future

When reviewing the benefits listed above, business owners should feel confident in their decision to adopt biodegradable packaging. More than superficial benefits, they’ll enjoy reduced costs and carbon emissions while increasing consumer convenience and reducing plastic pollution. The advantages are clear.

Looking toward the future, it’s safe to speculate more companies will transition toward eco-friendly practices. With this in mind, taking action now is the best option, and though biodegradable packaging is a small step, it’s an important one.

11 Ideas for Easier Recycling at Home

Going green isn’t just meant for Earth Day. Going green is a way of life. However, Earth Day is a day we pause and commemorate, acknowledge and support environmental programs and Earth-saving strategies. It is also a great day to commit or recommit to employ earth-friendly practices in your life, at home and in the office. There are countless things you can do to “go green.” Most of these things are ease to incorporate into your life. Recycling is one of the easiest ways to go green. Recycling is the process of obtaining or retaining waste and converting it into usable, new materials. Some things that can be used to recycle are:

Recycling is actually a great way to conserve raw resources into energy. Recycling at least one ton of paper can save 7,000 gallons of water and 17 trees, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

As you see, recycling is an effective and simple way to help the environment. It is something the entire family can do too. Before recycling, call your local waste management services. Determine how to you need to sort and pack items for recycling. In addition, you want to know what day or days the waste management services collects recycling. Check with them to find out where you safely dispose of light bulbs, hazardous materials and batteries. These cannot be recycled or put in the trash.

Your local waste management service has different rules about how items must be sorted, cleaned and packaged. Metal, cardboard, plastics, aluminum, glass and paper can be recycled.

It can be tricky to recycle plastics because some can break down easier than other plastics. The number located on the plastic item will determine if it can be recycled. It will also determine if the plastic can be picked up for recycling.

Source: Fix.com

Although plastics are trickier to sort and recycle, it’s important to dispose of them properly. One important factor to establishing a recycling a program at work, school or home is to create a system that works for everyone. Here are a few favorites we like:

Source: DIY Swank

Recycling is about convenience, convenience, and more convenience! When incorporating a successful program about which you can read in the essay about recycling, make bins easily accessible. They should be in an area that is easily visible and used like the utility room or kitchen where they can be seen and used

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Now, if you need a simple recycling system everyone can follow (even kids), use caster and baskets. These are easy to access and use. They slide out of site when not in use.

Source: Family Handyman

Use space by going vertical. You can hook bins on walls to utilize space. It will be easy to sort and store.

Source: Sweet Haute

Another way to make a successful recycling program is to make it fun. Use stylish bins and trash cans to recycle items.

Source: Sweet Haute

Another way to make a successful recycling program is to make it fun. Use stylish bins and trash cans to recycle items.

You may not have time to personally decorate trash cans by spray painting them. How about using printable labels. These labels can go generic bins to help separate recyclables.

Source: Lil Blue Boo

Batteries are not to be recycled. They cannot be put into a trash can for non-recycling either. Instead, they should be properly thrown away at a collection center or a participating auto part store. The same thing should be done with light bulbs.

Source: Sawdust Girl

Make a special area of your home or office to use as a personal sorting center. This is where you can sort and clean recyclables. You may want to look at some personal recycling centers to get an understand of what you need.

Source: I Should Be Mopping the Floor

Many people do not have an area they can keep bulky recycling or trash in the home or office. If this is the case for you, create a dedicated spot in the garage or other area. It won’t take long before your family or co-workers are pitching in to recycle.

Recycling is full of great ideas to help the environment. Find the ones you like. Used them in your successful recycling program.

Environmental Benefits of Polyurethane

Stated by urethane manufacturers, today’s manufacturing community is becoming increasingly mindful of environmental impacts that arise during industrial processes. Industrial recycling, waste to energy systems, and emissions improvements are just part of a wide-ranging effort to minimize the impact of manufacturing on the environment.

Plastics have become a lightning rod for environmental commentators, as pictures go viral of various waste being found in far-flung areas of our planet.

Something that is not discussed in these discourses is the wide variety of plastics currently available, and how not all plastics degrade in the same fashion. Polyurethane has been unduly spotlighted in these negative conversations.

With limited resources available to the public on the matter, there is plenty of misinformation which we hope to clarify in this article.

Plastic Waste & A Start to Policy Changes

There have been some extremely shocking photos and stories that have come out in recent years with regard to plastic waste. Photos of all sizes of plastic waste being found in rivers, oceans, and forests have been circulated millions of times.

Some cities and countries have started enacting policy changes in a reactionary fashion after seeing the widespread outpouring of anger on social media.

Most plastics that have been illustrated in these campaigns are thermoplastics, which amount to well over 95% of all plastic found during ocean studies. Polyurethanes, however, account for less than 2% of all waste detected during ocean surveys.

Damaging Thermoplastics

In thermoplastics, no molecular bonds are holding the individual strands of polymer together. It’s held together by weak ionic forces, called Van Der Waal forces.

Think of these bonds as a ball of yarn, essentially being held together by the tangled ends of molecular chains. Simply put, the plastic will break down until the last thing left is individual strands. These are the “micro-plastics” which are commonly talked about in the news.

Finer than a human hair, sometimes even microscopic, this is the smallest the material will degrade to. Individual atoms will not separate from the polymer strand and will continue to linger in the environment for decades.

Eco-Friendly Polyurethane

If you aren’t familiar with cast polyurethane it is considered a thermoset plastic. Do not confuse these with the thermoplastic we just discussed.

Polyurethane differs in that once the polymer has been reacted, the individual strands change on an atomic level and crosslink between each other. At these crosslinks, a new molecule is formed, entirely changing the properties of the material.

This molecular cross-linking is what makes polyurethane much more resilient in heavy-duty applications. Once the material has reached the end of its life, it can not be melted down and reformed.

Don’t think of this as a disadvantage since polyurethane materials will generally last longer than any thermoplastic equivalent. This minimizes the amount of polyurethane entering the waste stream right at the initial source.

Recycling Polyurethanes

There are multiple avenues that can be pursued when it comes to the recycling of polyurethane. Parts may be chemically reacted to turn back into their prepolymer state, however, the cost involved in this process can be quite steep.

When polyurethane breaks down in the environment, it will not break down into its individual polymer strands. Instead, individual bonds are broken down between molecules, releasing individual molecules into the environment.

These molecules are almost exclusively inert compounds that will not react or accumulate toxicity in natural environments.

Microbial degradation has become increasingly prevalent, especially in the area of fungi. Scientists have been able to find microorganisms that are well-suited for breaking downcast urethane products ecologically.

Polyurethane For the Win

The chemical makeup of polyurethane, combined with the increased lifetime of individual parts, means you can lower your commercial ecological footprint. Polyurethanes are non-toxic to the environment as they break down, and do not contain BPA’s or other chemicals which can interfere with endocrine systems.

The minimal effects on the environment will make this polymer even more desirable as we become increasingly environmentally conscious.

Everything You Need to Know About PVC Recycling

PVC is one of the most widely used plastics worldwide. A major problem in the recycling of PVC is the high chlorine content in raw PVC and high levels of hazardous additives added to the polymer to achieve the desired material quality. As a result, PVC requires separation from other plastics before recycling. PVC products have an average lifetime of 30 years, with some reaching 50 or more years.  This means that more PVC products are reaching the end-of-life and entering the waste stream, and the amount is likely to increase significantly in the near future.

pvc-recycling

PVC Recycling Methods

Currently, PVC plastic is being recycled by either of the two ways:

  • Mechanical recycling – This involves mechanically treating the waste (e.g. grinding) to reduce it into smaller particles.  The resulting granules, called recyclate, can be melted and remolded into different products, usually the same product from which it came.
  • Feedstock recycling – Chemical processes such as pyrolysis, hydrolysis and heating are used to convert the waste into its chemical components.  The resulting products – sodium chloride, calcium chloride, hydrocarbon products and heavy metals to name a few – are used to produce new PVC, as feed for other manufacturing processes or as fuel for energy recovery.

In mechanical recycling, because no chemical reaction is involved, the recyclate retains its original composition. This poses a recycling challenge because PVC products, depending on their application, contain different additives.  For example, rigid PVC is unplasticized whereas flexible PVC is added plasticizers because this additive increases the plastic’s fluidity and thus, its flexibility. Even products used for the same application may still differ in composition if they have different manufacturers.

When different kinds of PVC waste are fed to a mechanical recycler, the resulting product’s composition is difficult to predict, which is problematic because most PVC products, even recycled ones, require a specific PVC content.  In order to produce a high-quality recylate, the feed ideally should not be mixed with other kinds of plastic and should have a uniform material composition.Material recycling is therefore more applicable for post-industrial waste than for post-consumer waste.

PVC-waste

Feedstock recycling is seen to be complementary to conventional mechanical recycling as it is able to treat mixed or unsorted PVC waste and recover valuable materials.  However, a study showed that feedstock recycling (or at least the two that was considered) incurred higher costs than landfilling, primarily due to the low value of the recovered products. This provides little incentive for recyclers to pursue PVC recycling.  This may change in the future as more stringent regulations to protect the environment are enacted.  Some countries in Europe have already banned PVCs from landfills and PlasticsEurope is targeting a “zero plastic to landfill” in Europe by 2020.

Post-industrial waste is relatively pure and comes from PVC production and installation, such as cut-offs from laying of cables or scraps from the installation of window frames.  These are easily recycled since they can be collected directly from processors or installers or even recycled by producers themselves as raw material to manufacture the same product.

Post-consumer waste contains mixed material and has been used for different applications.  These are products that have reached the end-of-life or are replaced due to damage, like pipes from underground, window frames being replaced for renovation and electric cables recovered from demolition. These would require further sorting and cleaning, adding cost to the recycling process.  The recyclate produced is usually of lower quality and consequently of decreased economic value.

Recent Developments

Europe is leading the way for a more sustainable use of PVC with programs, such as RecoVinyl and VinylPlus, where recycling is advanced as one of the ways to use resources more efficiently and to divert as much waste as possible from landfills. Recovinyl, created in 2003, is an initiative of the European PVC industry to advance the sustainable development of the PVC industry by improving production processes, minimise emissions, develop recycling technology and boost the collection and recycling of waste.

Having been successful in all of its goals, including an increase in recycling of PVC across Europe to over 240,000 tonnes a year, in 2011 the PVC industry redefined the role of Recovinyl as part of the ambitious new ten-year VinylPlus sustainable development programme. VinylPlus works in partnership with consumers, businesses, municipalities, waste management companies, recyclers and converter, as well as the European Commission and national and local governments. The goal is to certify those companies who recycle PVC waste and those accredited converting companies who purchase recyclate to manufacture new products and applications.

Even if some types of PVC recycling are not feasible or economically viable at present, it will likely be reversed in the future as governments, manufacturers, consumers and other stakeholders create programs that innovate and find ways to achieve a sustainable future for the PVC industry.

10 Ways To Be An Eco-Friendly Student

Environmental degradation has led to many devastating effects such as the depletion of the ozone layer, health problems for people living in areas where toxic fumes and chemicals are released and a change in weather patterns. Everyone can contribute to a better and healthier environment by living eco-friendly lives on a daily basis.

As a student, you can be able to change this and influence others towards getting the environment back to a better place to the extent possible. Here are some tips on how to be an eco-friendly student.

 

1. Use Little to No Paper

Reduce your use of paper as much as you can. If you want to take notes while in class, use your mobile phone, tablet or laptop to do so. Instead of buying books, download them and read from your device. Not only will you be saving trees from being cut but you will also save a lot of money.

2. Avoid Disposable Eating Utensils

Using disposable cups, plates, and spoons seems like the easiest thing to do to save time. However, this harms the environment in the long run. Choose to use utensils that you can wash and reuse over a long period of time. The money saved from buying these items can be used for eco-friendly projects you would like to participate in.

3. Drive Less and Cycle or Walk More

If your destination is not so far away, you can cycle or walk instead of driving. If the distance is too long, you can choose to travel by public transport. If many people opted to follow this and drive only when it is absolutely necessary, pollution would decrease significantly, contributing to positive effects in the environment.

4. Conserve Water

At all times, be conscious of the amount of water you use whether you are bathing, washing your hands after using the washroom, washing dishes or doing anything else that requires you to use water. To contribute to a green college, use an amount of water that you actually need when showering, brushing your teeth or when suitable.

5. Buy Reusable Bags

Buying plastic bags every time you go shopping is a waste of money and these bags take up so much space in the home. You can opt for reusable bags which you can use more than once when going out for shopping. Apart from saving money, you will save yourself from having to pile a lot of garbage from plastic bags.

6. Save Energy

This is one of the best ways on how to be eco-friendly. One way to save on energy is by reducing the degrees on your thermostat slightly. You can also power down any devices that are not in use such as your electronics. Switching off the lights when you do not need them also helps. Using energy-efficient bulbs is also helpful as they last longer and consume less energy.

7. Participate in Eco-Friendly Projects

Take advantage of every opportunity you get to participate in projects that lead to a better environment. This can be a challenge due to the amount of academic work you may have. You can always receive help with your assignment at any time.

If you are wondering who will do my essay Australia, then worry no more as there are professional writers in online writing services ready to help you anytime you need assistance. With no excuse now, you can participate in cleaning projects, tree planting and any other environmental projects.

8. Buy Reusable Water Bottles

Buying water each time you feel thirsty may not be economically and environmentally beneficial. You can opt to buy 2 or 3 reusable water bottles for carrying water at any time you are outdoor. When buying a water bottle, choose BPA free water bottles as they are more environmental-free.

9. Reduce Meat Consumption

Eating less meat can actually contribute to a better environment and slow down global warming. Harmful gases are usually released to the atmosphere during cattle rearing for meat production. Reducing the consumption of meat will mean less harmful gases being released thus slowing down global warming.

10. Use Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products

Many cleaning products contain ingredients that are harmful to humans, animals, and the environment. One of the best sustainability tips is to use eco-friendly cleaning products as much as possible. Products such as baking soda, lemons, white vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide are all-natural cleaning products that are not toxic and are easily available.

To get the right ingredients to get rid of any type of stain, you can research on the internet to get suggestions on what you can use.

Conclusion

Whether you know anything about living an eco-friendly life or not, you can always learn and there is always something you can do to make the earth a better place. Keeping up-to-date with the condition of the earth can help you know what you need to work on.

Apart from doing all the above to be an eco-friendly student, you can also join environmental clubs and take part in any events and projects that are geared towards saving our environment. Conducting personal research on how to be more eco-friendly and sharing information with others is also a good way of being an eco-friendly student.

Zena Fly- Feeding the World on Insect

Meeting an ever increasing demand for food/feed/energy and managing waste have become two of the major global challenges. The global world population is estimated to increase from 7.3 billion in 2015 to 9.7 billion in 2050. Approximately one third of the global food produced for human composition is wasted. Currently, approximately 1.3 billion metric tons of waste are disposed with significant environmental impact as far as greenhouse gases and economic footprints and the current waste management practices are not costly sustainable.

zena-fly-waste-management

Increase in Global Energy Demand

Global energy demand is estimated to increase from 524 Quadrillion btu in 2010, to 820 Quadrillion btu by 2040 (a 56% increase). Similarly, global demand of food and animal products are projected to increase by 70-100% and 50-70%, respectively, by 2050. To cope up with the demand for animal products, a substantial increase in nutritious animal feed is needed.

On one hand, the production of conventional feedstuff such as soybean meal and fish meal is reported as the major contributor to land occupation, ocean depletion, climate change, water and energy consumption. Moreover, such conventional animal feedstuff are not only limited in supply but also are becoming more expensive over the years. Additionally, there is an already strong and increasing competition for resources such as food, feed and biofuel production.

Need for alternative non-conventional source of food, feed, and fuel

Thus there is a pressing need for identifying and exploring the potential of alternative non-conventional source of food, feed, and fuel, which are economically viable, environmentally friendly, and socially acceptable.

By 2030 the Bio-based Economy is expected to have grown significantly. A pillar of this is biorefining, the sustainable processing of biomass into a spectrum of marketable products and energy. To satisfy this demand biorefineries need to be better integrated, flexible and operating more substantially. This means that a major yield, more efficient use of nutrients and water and greater pest and disease resistance should be achieve.

Zena Fly: A Startup Worth Watching

In this context an Italian-based start-up, Zena Fly, designed an innovative process for the future integrated biorefinery by mimicking nature’s ability. In fact, Zena Fly utilizes the natural insect life cycle to manage large quantity of organic waste produced in urban and industrial context, in order to generate sustainable and valuable by-products. The project of three young entrepreneurs foresees a combined bio-refinery where waste is turned into high-quality by-products by the anaerobic insect digestion.

The Concept

The basic concept is to convert waste into high-valuable products utilizing the black soldier flies (H. illucens), a now globally distributed insect. With a modern technique, the typical insect life cycle of these insects can be utilized in order to manage urban and industrial waste. The voracious larvae can reduce by more than 40-70% (based on the nature of the substrate-waste) the substrate where reared (waste) within 12-14 days.

From the anaerobic waste digestion, large quantity of fine protein meal for feed composition (more than 50-60% in protein), fat, fertilizing oil and other by-products of great interest such as chitin, and high-quality biofuel are then extracted.

Since the adult fly do not feed, and do not fly around for feeding, these animals are exceptionally valuable from a sanitary perspective (larvae has been demonstrate to reduce/eliminate E.coli and Salmonella).

Business Model

Zena Fly business model foresees to replicate their integrated biorefineries next to any waste management companies or industrial production areas where large quantity of waste need to be reduced and transformed. This is a win/win operation, where the waste management cost would be cut in half and the process will generate appealing opportunities for investments in a market where the increasing demand is already way higher than the products availability.

Zena Fly is now seeking for the right partner-investor in order to scale up quickly. For more information, please visit www.zena-fly.com or email us on info@zena-fly.com

Composting in Qatar: An Overview

Composting in Qatar is mainly done at the Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre (DSWMC) in Mesaieed, which houses the largest composting facility in the country and one of the largest in the world.  The waste that enters the plant initially goes through anaerobic digestion, which produces biogas that can power the facility’s gas engine and generators, followed by aerobic treatment which yields the final product.

Two types of compost are generated: Grade A (compost that comes from green waste, such as yard/park trimmings, leftovers from kitchen or catering services, and wastes from markets) and Grade B (compost produced from MSW).  The plant started its operation in 2011 and when run at full capacity is able to process 750 tons of waste and produce 52 tons of Grade A compost, 377 tons of Grade B compost, liquid fertilizer which is composed of 51 tons of Grade A compost and 204 tons of Grade B compost, and 129 tons of biogas.

benefits-composting

This is a significant and commendable development in Qatar’s implementation of its solid waste management plan, which is to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover from waste, and to avoid disposing in landfills as much as possible.  However, the large influx of workers to Qatar in the coming years as the country prepares to host the World Cup in 2022 is expected to substantially increase solid waste generation and apart from its investments in facilities like the composting plant and in DSWMC in general, the government may have to tap into the efforts of organizations and communities to implement its waste management strategy.

Future Outlook

Thankfully, several organizations recognize the importance of composting in waste management and are raising awareness on its benefits.  Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC) has been actively promoting composting through its Solid Waste Interest Group.  Last year, they were one of the implementers of the Baytna project, the first Passivhaus experiment in the country.

This project entails the construction of an energy-efficient villa and a comparative study will be performed as to how the carbon footprint of this structure would compare to a conventional villa.  The occupants of the Passivhaus villa will also be made to implement a sustainable waste management system which includes composting of food waste and garden waste, which is meant to lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to landfilling.

Qatar Foundation is also currently developing an integrated waste management system for the entire Education City and the Food Services group is pushing for composting to be included as a method to treat food and other organic waste.  And many may not know this but composting can be and has been done by individuals in their own backyard and can even be done indoors with the right equipment.

Katrin Scholz-Barth, previous president of SustainableQatar, a volunteer-based organization that fosters sustainable culture through awareness, skills and knowledge, is an advocate of composting and has some great resources on how to start and maintain your own composting bin as she has been doing it herself.

A simple internet search will also reveal that producing compost at home is a relatively simple process that can be achieved with minimal tools.  At present, very few families in Qatar are producing their own compost and Scholz-Barth believes there is much room for improvement.

As part of its solid waste management plan as stated in the National Development Strategy for 2011-2016, Qatar aims to maintain domestic waste generation at 1.6 kg per capita per day.  This will probably involve encouraging greater recycling and reuse efforts and the reduction of waste from its source.

It would also be worthwhile to include programs that will promote and boost composting efforts among institutions, organizations and individuals, encouraging them with the fact that apart from its capability of significant waste diversion from landfills, composting can also be an attractive source of income.

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

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.