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Nuclear waste - the unanswered questions that won't go away ("we are still hoping for safe disposal")

Nuclear waste - the unanswered questions that won't go away ("we are still hoping for safe disposal") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
The recent closure of five US power stations is forcing the industry to confront big questions about radioactive waste, writes Paul Brown. Who is to pay the mounting costs of managing the wastes and keeping them secure? And precisely where will be their final resting place?

Long-term employment is hard to find these days, but one career that can be guaranteed to last a lifetime is dealing with nuclear waste.

The problem and how to solve it is becoming critical. Dozens of nuclear power stations in the US, Russia, Japan, and across Europe and Central Asia are nearing the end of their lives.

And when these stations close, the spent fuel has to be taken out, safely stored or disposed of, and then the pressure vessels and the mountains of concrete that make up the reactors have to be dismantled. This can take between 30 and 100 years, depending on the policies adopted.

In the rush to build stations in the last century, little thought was given to how to take them apart 40 years later. It was an age of optimism that science would always find a solution when one was needed, but the reality is that little effort was put into dealing with the waste problem. It is now coming back to haunt the industry.

Bert Guevara's insight:

There is again the resurrected idea of adopting nuclear power to augment the energy deficiency of the Philippines. The TRUE cost of nuclear power is pricing itself out of the market ... "could no longer compete on cost with the current price of natural gas and increased subsidies for renewables."

"The dilemma for the industry is that the US government has not solved the problem of what to do with the spent fuel and the highly radioactive nuclear waste that these stations have generated over the last 40 years.

"They have collected a levy - kept in a separate fund that now amounts to $31 billion - to pay for solving the problem, but still have not come up with a plan."

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Orion Magazine | Concrete Progress: From Waste to Watts at One of the World's Biggest Automobile Plants

Orion Magazine | Concrete Progress: From Waste to Watts at One of the World's Biggest Automobile Plants | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it

 

The process starts with municipal solid waste. This is the technical term for household trash, the plastic wrappers and takeout containers and appliance cases that you cannot recycle or compost. Most people bag it up and leave it for pickup; a few cart it off to the dump (as we used to call it), where it’s thrown into a lined pit and left to decompose. When full, the landfill is capped, typically with clay or some other impermeable layer.

This cap is meant to keep waste products from leaking out, but it also keeps oxygen from getting in. The stuff inside, therefore, decomposes anaerobically, with little organisms consuming the material in a process similar to fermentation. As a result, all of the stuff in your trash bags goes through several forms before ending its solid life as landfill gas (or LFG), which consists of roughly half methane (CH4) and half CO2 and water.

In about a quarter of landfills, LFG is flared (which is to say, burned) as it rises out of the ground. In others, it simply drifts off into the atmosphere to join the rest of our greenhouse gases as they warm up the earth. Landfills are the third-largest source of human-produced methane in the United States, and methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2 (a pound of it captures twenty times as much heat as a pound of CO2). The waste is also unstable—LFG can be the cause of fires and explosions at landfill sites.

But while it’s a troublesome waste in some contexts, it’s a powerful fuel in others. Methane is essentially what you’re using if you heat your house with natural gas. It’s an increasingly important part of the American economy, and it’s tremendously controversial. As readers of Sandra Steingraber’s columns in Orion will be aware, natural gas is what fracking is for. In the case of landfills, however, methane is wafting into the air not from fossil fuel deposits but from our own waste. The key is using it.

Bert Guevara's insight:

“This place must devour fossil fuel.” But I was wrong. When I asked our tour guide how BMW powers its operation, I found that the factory runs not on coal from strip mines or oil from offshore wells, but on gas from the local landfill. BMW churns out 1,200 cars a day mostly on trash."

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DTI boosts charcoal briquette production in La Union village | mb.com.ph | Philippine News

DTI boosts charcoal briquette production in La Union village | mb.com.ph | Philippine News | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has given four more “carbonizers” in addition to support offered to Barangay Mameltac, here, which chose coal briquette-producing as its income-generating project (IGP).

DTI Provincial Director Daria Mingaracal was joined by village officials led by Barangay Chairman Catalino Silao and city government officials led by acting Mayor Hermenegildo Gualberto in the turn-over ceremony last July 20.

As a partnership project with the DTI, P900,000 worth of tools and equipment had been given to Barangay Mameltac through the Shared Service Facility (SSF) since December last year to improve and develop the quality of its locally-produced charcoal briquettes.

Among those given to the village were four carbonizers, four pulverizers, two mixers, and four mold sucking machines or fabricators to improve their implements. Trainings and seminars were also included in the package.

Charcoal briquette is a mixture of charcoal of wood or bamboo, burned leaves, destroyed furniture materials, and other solid wastes processed like the shape of a doughnut in five-inch sizes with the use of “gawgaw” or laundry starch. After being shaped through a pressing mold machine, the briquettes are dried for three days.

“The idea of producing charcoal briquettes is to help reduce debris and makes use also some recyclable materials to benefit the people and help prolong the lifespan of the City Sanitary Landfill,” Mayor Pablo Ortega told the Manila Bulletin.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Projects like this should be replicated.


"Charcoal briquette is a mixture of charcoal of wood or bamboo, burned leaves, destroyed furniture materials, and other solid wastes processed like the shape of a doughnut in five-inch sizes with the use of “gawgaw” or laundry starch. After being shaped through a pressing mold machine, the briquettes are dried for three days."

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The ROI of San Francisco's Zero-Waste Program ("reduction, reuse & recycling must be equally applied")

The ROI of San Francisco's Zero-Waste Program ("reduction, reuse & recycling must be equally applied") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
Seizing an opportunity to conserve resources, reduce environmental impact, and create jobs, the city set a goal in 2002 to achieve zero waste by 2020.

Unlike trash, items that are composted and recycled create a return for the city. Recyclables are baled and sold to their respective markets: Scrap metal and certain plastics, for example, are often sent to Asia and imported back in the form of new products, and compostables are processed and transformed into nutrient-rich fertilizer, which is sold to local farms. Landfill waste, on the other hand, costs money.

These efforts extend to materials that are harder to recycle, like textiles. As part of its goal to reach zero waste, the city announced a partnership with I:CO last year to facilitate the reuse and recycling of clothing, shoes and textiles within retail stores, residential buildings and donation spots. San Francisco has also partnered with local employers and nonprofits to educate and engage citizens in the process.

Another benefit for local residents is that the program helps create green jobs. The city’sEnvironment Now green careers program prepares workers for the green economy and helps them access jobs that contribute to the city’s zero-waste goals.

Jacquie Ottman, green marketing pioneer and founder of the waste reduction communityWeHateToWaste, sees greater value in educating the public on the merits of reducing overall consumption and reusing products, rather than the consumption-centric focus of recycling.

“The greenest product is the one that already exists,” Ottman told 3p. “We need to reduce and reuse – that means don’t waste. We are missing an opportunity to reinforce that message with consumers.”

According to WeHateToWaste, repairing, repurposing and sharing products is the true key to a no-waste mindset. When we find creative ways to use what we already have and reduce our consumption, we get closer to saving natural resources and reducing costs.


Bert Guevara's insight:

The goal is not only to recycle and make quick returns. There are many aspects of reuse and reduction of resources that are more important aspects, but these will mean education and a lifestyle change. The returns are greater!

 

"The point is: Let’s not pat ourselves on the back too quickly just for recycling that plastic bottle or composting yesterday’s food scraps. Let’s find ways to truly reduce impact by avoiding the creation of waste altogether.

"That’s how we can all get to zero waste – and get a nice return on our investments."

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Chairs made of plastic wastes donated to schools | Tempo - News in a Flash ("4145 pcs donated")

Chairs made of plastic wastes donated to schools | Tempo - News in a Flash ("4145 pcs donated") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
A total of 4,145 school chairs made of recycled plastic wastes had been distributed to different schools in the country in a span of two years. Sen. Cynthia A. Villar said through Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance, they were able to contribute to the drive to reduce plastic by recycling the wastes into a more useful form. A staunch environmentalist, the senator noted that plastics remain as the most common trash, as her monthly clean up activity at the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Eco-Tourism Area Would show. “With this initiative of recycling plastic waste, we were able to create a source of livelihood for the poor, help solve the school chairs shortage in our schools, and at the same time care for the environment,” Villar said. Since the plant started turning plastic wastes into school chairs in May 2013, more than 4,145 school chairs were produced and distributed for free to different schools all over the country. The bulk was given to

 

Bert Guevara's insight:

Another local initiative in plastic recycling, which translates to free school desks for public schools.


“With this initiative of recycling plastic waste, we were able to create a source of livelihood for the poor, help solve the school chairs shortage in our schools, and at the same time care for the environment,” Villar said.

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Sandamakmak na basura, hinakot mula sa Manila Bay kasunod ng masamang panahon | Video

Sandamakmak na basura, hinakot mula sa Manila Bay kasunod ng masamang panahon | Video | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
Sandamakmak na basura, hinakot mula sa Manila Bay kasunod ng masamang panahon. Home of GMA News Online listing top breaking Philippine and international headlines, videos and photos encompassing sections of current events, sports, economy and business, science & technology, pinoy abroad, showbiz entertainment, lifestyle, weather, traffic and local region stories. Also includes foreign exchange rates, lotto results, board exam results.
Bert Guevara's insight:

Watch this video. Be amazed at the resourcefulness of the Filipino who manages to find income from garbage by the Bay.

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This Shipping Container Home Is Insanely Awesome ("pushing up-cycling design to the next level")

This Shipping Container Home Is Insanely Awesome ("pushing up-cycling design to the next level") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it

Would you live in a shipping container? No? Well, what if it looked like this?

Joseph Dupuis is the Carp, Ottawa man behind the "Off Grid Shipping Container Cabin" that's taken the I

Dupuis says that he built the tiny cabin from three 20-foot shipping containers. At 355 square feet, it comes insulated with heat -- necessary for those Canadian winters -- and a cooling system. The shipping container home is also outfitted with solar panels, a wood stove, full kitchen, and shower, with room for a "future" toilet (right now, the cabin only has an outhouse).

For critics that complain about the cabin's lack of a toilet, Dupuis says it's due to a legal issue. "If you dig for septic, the home becomes a dwelling," he told The Huffington Post. "I wanted the whole point of the cabin to be that you can break it down and move it whenever you need to."

Dupuis said he started designing the house in 2010, and worked on his plans for about an hour each day for three years. He constructed the home on his family's farm, building 95 percent of the cabin himself and leaving the rest to electricians and other subcontractors. He bought each container for $3,400 CAD and worked 12-13 hour days for three months to complete it. The hard work and planning paid off, as his cabin -- and its low costs -- are truly impressive. When he lived in the cabin himself, Dupuis' winter heating bill was only $35, and the most expensive bill he paid belonged to his phone.
Dupuis wants to turn the unexpected media attention into a business.

"I want to help as many people as I can get out of the pocket of big banks and make people more self-sufficient," he told HuffPost. "I see my friends buying $400,000 houses and they're in debt for the next 35 years. It's pretty backwards -- we don't need these expensive homes and all this stuff we have in our lives."

Bert Guevara's insight:

The idea of up-cycling containers is not new, but this designer tried to raise the bar. Check out the pictures.


"Dupuis said he started designing the house in 2010, and worked on his plans for about an hour each day for three years. He constructed the home on his family's farm, building 95 percent of the cabin himself and leaving the rest to electricians and other subcontractors. He bought each container for $3,400 CAD and worked 12-13 hour days for three months to complete it. The hard work and planning paid off, as his cabin -- and its low costs -- are truly impressive. When he lived in the cabin himself, Dupuis' winter heating bill was only $35, and the most expensive bill he paid belonged to his phone."

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Waste less tire recycling 3 tons per hour - YouTube ("tires need not be burned if u have this")

This is an example of what can be done with used tires.

Bert Guevara's insight:

This is a video of what can be done with used tires.

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As Electronics Shrink, Challenges for Recyclers Rise ("upgradability of small gadgets should be designed")

As Electronics Shrink, Challenges for Recyclers Rise ("upgradability of small gadgets should be designed") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
As laptops displace PCs in popularity, the level of standardization dropped, increasing the challenges for recyclers. But gold may be their saving grace.

But, like most big human-induced changes, there were unintended consequences, primarily in the form of the mountains of waste that resulted as products quickly became obsolete and tossed out only to be replaced by others with an equally short lifespan. (One study showed that 25 percent of electronic devices were used less than 500 hours before being discarded.) This is exacerbated by the fact that electronic waste can contain dangerous materials including lead, mercury and cadmium.

Indeed, numerous entities have taken action on the problem. There are now take-back laws in several European countries and American states, as part of an extended producer responsibility (EPR) movement. Many manufacturers and retailers have gotten on the bandwagon, and some have found ways to do it profitably.

Cade told me that things were easier when desktop and tower configurations were the norm, because those platforms were larger, designed for disassembly, and because they had reached a certain level of maturity. “They were pretty simple to carry on into a second use,” said Cade, who serves as CEO of PC Rebuilders & Recyclers in Chicago.

Standards (at least in the PC world) were eventually developed for things like hard drive interfaces and form factors, bus interfaces for printed circuit boards, CPU sockets, and memory. That meant that old PC’s could be upgraded by simply pulling out one component and replacing it with a newer one. The machines were also easier to disassemble, as screws or snap-fits were often used to hold them together.

As laptops displaced PCs in popularity, the level of standardization and upgradeability dropped.

 

Bert Guevara's insight:

The potential for upgrading and recycling of smaller gadgets is becoming more difficult. It will need an industry-wide initiative to standardize components for upgrading to happen.


"The relationship between standardization and innovation is really an interesting sideline. Because it’s only when innovation has slowed down enough for standards to be applied that third parties can get involved in the market. When they do, there is tremendous additional innovation and competition in that space. In the PC world, there was a huge aftermarket in peripherals. Laptops could still work with a wide array of standard USB devices. Now, in the mobile world, most of that innovation has migrated into software apps. It’s because of published software standards that apps can migrate from one phone to the next, while none of the hardware can, except possibly chargers and headsets."

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Waste Management and Disposal Sustainability | Sustainable Cities Collective ("feedstock competition?")

Waste Management and Disposal Sustainability | Sustainable Cities Collective ("feedstock competition?") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
Incinerating waste has always polarized communities into advocates and critics. In the old days it was about air pollution as the filtering system was never sufficient. Now, however, as incineration technology has advanced, the worries are more about the effects of too many incinerators and running out of feedstock.

According to this fellow, waste to energy providers are under contractual obligations to sell a certain amount of electricity to the grid. If they fail to meet their targets they can be fined. Here's the problem: incinerators are now running short of "fuel" ie., garbage.

So the operators will pay more for recycling material than the recyclers. Further, he told me, that in the older incinerators still in operation, in order to moderate the temperature of the stuff being burned, they have to add wet organics to keep the temperature from getting too hot.

So there is a double whammy created:

in some cases organics that are supposed to be bound for anaerobic digesters are diverted to incinerators, andmaterial that should be getting recycled is being burned.

As for the companies that sell recycling sorting equipment? "It's killing our business," he said.

There are plenty of articles out there highlighting how Norway and Sweden have run out of material to burn and are now importing garbage from other countries to fuel their incinerators.

And this is the point. Sometimes policies intended to solve a problem, do it a little too well. Running out of feedstock and poaching from other sources isn't a progressive way of handling waste; once it's burned, the energy and resource is lost forever. When a product is recycled it extends its life and saves energy and resources.

While researchers are working on infinite recycling loops, for now we can get two, sometimes three uses out of a product before it's reached the end of its useful life, but it's better than it going up in a puff of smoke after its first life.

Bert Guevara's insight:

To recycle is still more sustainable than incineration, even after the pollution issues have been addressed. Experience from other countries have shown that the contractual obligations of incineration companies will lead to the burning of what should go to recycling and composting.

 

"In this case, while burning waste is full of good intentions (waste to energy, less landfill) and technology has advanced far enough that emissions issues are (potentially) a thing of the past, in reality, incinerating material misses the target of the circular economy (something the EU is striving for) and encourages societies to consume more stuff to provide waste for the incinerators to power the grid."

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Pinoy Teen’s Coconut Plastic Bag Invention Wins In World Competition ("we need to enhance coconuts too")

Pinoy Teen’s Coconut Plastic Bag Invention Wins In World Competition ("we need to enhance coconuts too") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
Start 'em young, indeed! Photo Credit: The Philippine Star The invention of a biodegradable plastic bag made out of coconuts, made by the teenage son of ARMM governor Mujiv Hataman, won third place among 462 entries in an international inventions contest held in Houston Texas, according to a report by The Philippine Star. Amin Hataman,…

Amin Hataman, a high school student of Fountain International School in Manila, reportedly competed amongst young inventors from different countries in the  International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering and Environmental Project (I-SWEEEP) Olympiad, an annual competition for high school students that focuses on inventions that help protect the environment.

The teenage Amin reportedly invented a plastic bag, made of coconuts, that disintegrates after several days of exposure to elements.

Amin’s invention also won a gold medal from another invention contest last year, the International Young Inventor’s Olympiad held in Georgia.

Congratulations, Amin! Another classic Pinoy pride case.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Impressive! We can't wait for the launching of the commercial product.

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Gardening 101: How to Use Eggshells in the Garden: Gardenista ("don't throw those eggshells away")

Gardening 101: How to Use Eggshells in the Garden: Gardenista ("don't throw those eggshells away") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
You've heard of the "incredible edible egg." For gardeners, the shells are just as useful—as mulch, pest control, and fertilizer. And more. Here are five ideas for using crushed eggshells in the garden:

Though nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are most vital for healthy growth, calcium is also essential for building healthy "bones"—the cell walls of a plant. Composed of calcium carbonate, eggshells are an excellent way to introduce this mineral into the soil. To prep the eggshells, grind with a mixer, grinder, or mortar and pestle and till them into the soil. Because it takes several months for eggshells to break down and be absorbed by a plant's roots, it is recommended that they be tilled into the soil in fall. More shells can be mixed into your soil in the spring.

By the same token, finely crushed shells mixed with other organic matter at the bottom of a hole will help newly planted plants thrive. (Tomatoes especially love calcium.) For an exciting recycled garden cocktail: try mixing your eggshells with coffee grounds, which are rich in nitrogen.

Finally, eggshells will reduce the acidity of your soil, and will help to aerate it.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Check out these uses of egg shells:

- Eggshell Fertilizer

- Eggshell Seed Starters

- Eggshell Pest Control

- Eggshell Bird Food

- Eggshell Mulch

 

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Food Waste is a Massive Problem. Here’s How to Fix It. ("we can address hunger by good distribution")

Food Waste is a Massive Problem. Here’s How to Fix It. ("we can address hunger by good distribution") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
A new film highlights the food waste problem. Here are some things we can do to fix it.

While the industrial agriculture industry claims we need to scale up production to feed a growing population, the incredible level of wasted food suggests that having better policies in place could go a long way. As the U.N. noted in its report on world hunger, we grow enough food to feed the entire world population of 7 billion people—a lot of it just isn’t getting to them.

One of the first thing policymakers can do is take on the confusion caused by “sell by,” “use by,” or “best by” food labels. According to a report called The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America, most people don’t know that these dates are currently neither regulated nor standardized. Other than for infant formula, there are no federal or state laws regulating the length of time between when a food can be produced and/or packaged and the date on the package. And while these dates are not necessarily linked to food safety, they can have a major impact because many consumers throw away food they perceive as having “expired.” 

The European Union is aggressively moving to reduce food waste by addressing these “best before” labels. As Bloom has noted, the shift could also prompt action on date labels here in the U.S. If that happens, American lawmakers could help trim million of tons annually from our collective household food waste. 

There are other policies taking place nationwide, with several cities and states taking matters into their own hands. San Francisco passed the first city ordinance in 2009 that makes composting food waste mandatory. It’s now illegal to throw food and food waste in the trash in Seattle. In Massachusetts, businesses or institutions which throw out more than a ton of food a month are prohibited from sending it to a landfill. Vermont, Connecticut, Portland, and New York City are all reducing or working on sending less food waste to their landfills. As Gunders told me, while this on its own doesn’t ensure that people will eat all the food they buy, it does help make the huge volume of food going to waste more visible, which in turn can lead us to use it better.

Bert Guevara's insight:

We use up so much natural resources, like land and water, to grow enough food for 7 billion people, but 40% of it does not reach our stomachs. There is a way of solving this, if we are serious enough.


"Towards the end of “Just Eat It,” activist and author Tristam Stuart of Feeding the 5000 says poignantly that wasting food “is one of the most gratuitous acts of humans culture as it stands today. We’re trashing our land to grow food that no one eats.” 

In a country so blessed by agricultural abundance, it’s a shame to allow for such an embarrassment of wasted riches. There are many social environmental problems which are monumental, but, as Gunders puts it, “Food waste we can handle. We can do something about it now.” 

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How Food Waste Costs Our Cities Millions | World Resources Institute ("city dwellers take food for granted")

How Food Waste Costs Our Cities Millions | World Resources Institute ("city dwellers take food for granted") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
It would take a Mexico-sized area of farm land to grow the amount of food people waste every year.

It would take farm land the size of Mexico just to grow the amount of food that humans produce, but do not eat, every year.

More food goes uneaten at theconsumption phase of the supply chain—in places like homes, restaurants and cafeterias—than at any other stage. Almost all urban areas experience high levels of food waste—food that is fit for consumption when it reaches consumers but is discarded before or after spoiling. While food waste presents significant challenges, addressing waste also provides an opportunity for growing cities to reduce their carbon emissions, curb deforestation, and mitigate water withdrawals caused by agriculture.

If current trends continue, the world will need to increase food production by 70 percent by 2050. Growing that amount of food will put a significant strain on the planet. Food production is emissions-intensive because it converts lands—such as forests and savannas that store carbon and preserve ecosystems—into pasture or crop land. For example, farmers are chopping down Indonesia’s rainforests to grow crops like palm oil, making Indonesia the world’s largest carbon emitter per unit of GDP. In addition, 13 percent of the world’s 2010 carbon emissions came from agricultural activities like raising cattle, using tractors, and producing and using nitrogen fertilizers. Including land conversion,agriculture contributes 24 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, uses 37 percent of Earth’s land, and accounts for 70 percent of water withdrawals worldwide.

Given the staggering effect that food production has on the environment, reducing food waste and easing the growing need for food production can move us toward a more sustainable world.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The food waste numbers are staggering and scandalous to a hungry population. There has to be widespread action to combat it.

 

"According to The Royal Society, consumers in developed economies waste more food due to the low cost of food relative to disposable income, high standards for the appearance of food, and a lack of understanding of the realities of food production. Urbanization introduces these three factors into consumer behavior because urbanites earn more money than rural workers, buy more food from supermarkets that have high food appearance standards, and live further from where their food grows."

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6 Food Waste Myths Dispelled | Civil Eats ("there may be commercial interests behind these myths")

6 Food Waste Myths Dispelled | Civil Eats ("there may be commercial interests behind these myths") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
There’s no question that food waste is a fiasco. Up to 40 percent of the food grown in the U.S. is never eaten. But for all the talk of reducing waste, among environmentalists, humanitarians, and penny-pinchers alike, there are still misconceptions about what’s safe to eat and legal to give away. So here’s a list... Read More

1. Myth: Food Retailers Can Get Sued if They Donate Food that Makes Someone Sick

It’s not uncommon for supermarkets to say they can’t donate food because of legal liability. But it’s just not true.

2. Myth: Use-By Dates are an Indicator of Food Safety

Here’s a quiz. What’s the difference between these date labels?

A) Use ByB) Best BeforeC) Sell By

Stumped? Most people are. A As we reported recently, the European Union is moving away from use-by date labels for these reasons.

3. Myth: We Need to Grow More Food to End Hunger

You’ve heard it said before that in order to feed the world’s rising population, farmers will need to grow dramatically more food.

4. Myth: That Last Bunch of Lettuce Couldn’t Possibly Taste Good

There’s a saying in the grocery biz: “Pile it high and watch it fly.” Customers rarely buy the last bag of apples or the final carton of milk; they assume there’s a reason it hasn’t sold already.

5. Myth: Ugly Fruit is Bad Fruit

And you thought high school cliques were shallow. It turns out there’s just as much pressure on fruit and vegetables to look good as there is on homecoming queens.

6. Myth: Feeding Animals Food Scraps is Always Dangerous

Humans have fed pigs and chickens food scraps for thousands of years. But since World War II, the practice has largely been replaced with grain-based feeds.

Bert Guevara's insight:

We are throwing away so much food because of certain standards and beliefs regarding food. Through the years, many of these have been considered myths. Find out why.

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Adidas Designs Sneakers Made Entirely from Ocean Waste ("advocacy sneakers from plastic send message")

Adidas Designs Sneakers Made Entirely from Ocean Waste ("advocacy sneakers from plastic send message") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
In partnership with Parley for the Oceans, Adidas recently released an innovative pair of sneakers made entirely of recycled plastic ocean waste.

Adidas is giving a whole new meaning to the old adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The eco-conscious sneaker brand recently released an innovative pair of kicks made entirely of recycled plastic ocean waste. The shoes are the product of an ongoing partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an initiative dedicated to raising awareness and combatting plastic pollution in the oceans.

“The conservation of the oceans is a cause that is close to my heart and those of many employees at the Adidas Group” said Eric Liedtke, executive board member for Adidas Group. “By partnering with Parley for the Oceans we are contributing to a great environmental cause. We co-create fabrics made from Ocean Plastic waste which we will integrate into our products.”

Parley for the Oceans is an organization in which creators, thinkers and leaders come together to raise awareness about the state of the oceans and to collaborate on projects that can protect and conserve them. As a founding member, Adidas supports Parley for the Oceans in its education and communication efforts and its comprehensive Ocean Plastic Program that intends to end plastic pollution for good.

Together, the Adidas Group and Parley for the Oceans will implement a long-term partnership program that is built on three pillars: communication and education, research and innovation, and direct actions against ocean plastic pollution. The partnership is an example of the Adidas Group’s open-source innovation approach: to engage with partners, crowd-source ideas and co-create the future of the industry. Among others, this collaboration will accelerate the creation of innovative products and integration of materials made of ocean plastic waste into Adidas’ product line starting in 2016.

Bert Guevara's insight:

I like this up-cycling idea.


"Adidas has long been a leader in the sustainable fashion movement. This partnership builds on the company’s strong track record in product sustainability, one of the key pillars of the Adidas Group’s sustainability strategy. Constantly looking into new and smarter ways to make its products better, this collaboration will also further strengthen the company’s ties with its consumers by allowing them to be part of the solution via retail and future activations. As a first action, the adidas Group has also decided to phase out the use of plastic bags in its own retail stores."

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How Your Old Jeans Are Warming Houses ("another textile upcycling idea which delivers warmth")

How Your Old Jeans Are Warming Houses ("another textile upcycling idea which delivers warmth") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
A group of organizations is using worn-out denim to create insulation for homes.

About a week later I stumbled upon the startling fact that Americans toss 82 pounds of clothing each year, resulting in 11 million tons sitting in landfills. And they don’t just stay there for a year or two. Because most textiles are not biodegradable, they’ll stay on this planet for 200 years. The donation pile doesn’t fare much better: One out of every 10 items of clothing donated is resold. The rest is either shipped off to be sold in other countries or goes to those growing landfills. 

Cotton Incorporated is working with Bonded Logic, Inc., manufacturers of UltraTouch Denim Insulation, to give beat-up (not in a trendy way) jeans a second life, and one that is impactful to boot. 

This year the program, which started in 2006, focused its efforts on New Orleans, which is still recovering from the massive amounts of destruction left behind by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It’s hard to believe it has been a decade since that natural disaster flattened and flooded the city and its surrounding neighborhoods. What’s even harder to wrap one’s head around is the significant rebuilding still left to be done after all of these years. FEMA estimates Katrina’s overall damage at $108 billion, the costliest hurricane in U.S. history. While the rest of the country may have moved on, New Orleans residents are still coping with their losses.

This year Sheryl Crow teamed up with the campaign to actively encourage denim donations, but the celebrity involvement didn’t stop there. Actor AnnaSophia Robb helped out alongside 600 other volunteers during the actual build. Robb also had the honor of presenting New Orleans resident Karen Walker with a key to her new home on the city’s America Street.

According to a Blue Jeans Go Green spokesperson, it takes about 500 to 1,000 pieces of denim to make enough insulation for a home, depending on its size. So far the program has collected more than 1 million pieces of denim, helping to produce over 2 million square feet of the insulation.


Bert Guevara's insight:

Another upcycling idea for interior designers.

 

"Considering the statistic floating around claiming the average person owns seven pairs of jeans, donating a fallen pair instead of tossing it in the trash can have a big impact on the environment.

"To date, Blue Jeans Go Green has diverted 600 tons of denim from landfills."

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Plastic road surface might be streets ahead of asphalt ("another clever plastic recycling idea")

Plastic road surface might be streets ahead of asphalt ("another clever plastic recycling idea") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
Asphalt covers more than 94 percent of paved streets in the US, but have we gone down the wrong road with our choice of building material? A Dutch firm has unveiled plans for roads made from plastic, claiming they would last longer and cut construction and maintenance time.

VolkerWessels details a long list of potential benefits of pure plastic roads. First up, it is claimed the road could better withstand extreme temperatures, as low as -40° C (-40° F) and as high as 80° C (176° F). It would also be more resistant to corrosion and last three times as long as asphalt, while minimizing the need for maintenance (otherwise known as pesky roadworks and detours).

Because sections of the road could be prefabricated and installed on sand in a single piece, the company claims construction time for roads would be cut from months down to weeks. The material would also be lighter and allow better control over factors like road stiffness and water drainage, while a hollow space within could be used for all sorts of things. Some of ideas offered up by VolkerWessels include running cables and pipes and housing traffic loop sensors.

Further to the obvious environmental advantages in repurposing used plastic trash to build roads, the approach would lessen reliance on carbon-intensive asphalt production. And the company says that the more sustainable material would also better lend itself to forward-thinking infrastructure ideas like power generation and heated roads to stave off ice and snow.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Imagine recycled plastic pre-fab roads ....


"Because sections of the road could be prefabricated and installed on sand in a single piece, the company claims construction time for roads would be cut from months down to weeks. The material would also be lighter and allow better control over factors like road stiffness and water drainage, while a hollow space within could be used for all sorts of things. Some of ideas offered up by VolkerWessels include running cables and pipes and housing traffic loop sensors."

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The Recycling Industry is Losing Money -- and Fast ("there is a need to involve the waste generators")

The Recycling Industry is Losing Money -- and Fast ("there is a need to involve the waste generators") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
The recycling industry may be in trouble as Waste Management and other businesses are losing millions of dollars annually trying to manage recycling plants.

Waste Management and other leading recycling companies recently admitted that more than 2,000 towns and cities are paying to dispose of their recyclables. The recycling industry is losing money at astounding rates, with facilities unable to handle the smorgasbord of recyclables in timely enough fashion to produce profits. With environmentalists and lawmakers urging for bigger blue bins, they are backhandedly encouraging consumers to not sort their recyclable items.

Globally, falling oil prices, a powerful U.S. dollar and a weakened Chinese economy have twisted the prices for American recyclables downhill worldwide. While the U.S. has seen a large increase in cardboard use thanks to the online shopping industry, the Chinese demand for such products is reaching an all-time low.

Washington, D.C. residents’ carelessness while recycling left the city’s share of Waste Management’s profit depleted by more than 50 percent, driving the price of processing recyclables to nearly $63 per ton.

Environmentalists suggest that composting is the solution to recycling’s inefficiencies. With cultured West Coast cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Portland instituting citywide composting, waste has been reduced significantly. Composting can have a more direct impact on environmental issues by compartmentalizing items and sifting through trash before the dumps have a chance.

Only around 5 percent of waste produced in the U.S. comes from residential homes, with the other 95 percent coming from businesses and commercial industries. If businesses decided to simplify garbage and sift through recyclables instead of hurl all of its trash into cans together, the problem recycling companies face could be mitigated.


Bert Guevara's insight:

Ever since waste management became big business in some countries, the rules of the game are changing. New ideas are needed.


"The increase in recycling participation has certainly seen positive repercussions for the environment, but recycling the wrong way only creates headaches and losses of profit for big companies.

"While the recycling industry is hurting because the commodity level of certain items is taking a hit, it still has a dramatic impact on the environment. ..."

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Ramped-up “Reuse2Reduce” program leads to best-ever waste reduction | SUNY New Paltz News

Ramped-up “Reuse2Reduce” program leads to best-ever waste reduction | SUNY New Paltz News | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it

This year, SUNY New Paltz expanded its efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle these objects, as Facilities Operations staff teamed up with the New Paltz Recycling Center, the student Recycling Club and a number of regional charities to divert usable food, clothing, furniture and electronics from dumpsters destined for landfills, and redistribute them to people and organizations in need.

“I am very much impressed by the effort that our students, campus staff and community members put forth to make this year’s drive a great success,” said John Shupe, assistant vice president for Facilities Management.

The campaign to salvage items during the student move-out period, known as the “Reuse2Reduce” program, is valuable not only for the contribution to local charities but as part of the College’s ongoing efforts to achieve zero waste.

“The program increased the total volume of material diverted from the waste stream by 150% from 2.4 tons in 2014 to 6 tons in 2015,” said Lisa Mitten, campus sustainability coordinator. “We’re moving toward zero waste by increasing coordination between students, staff from multiple departments, community organizations and community volunteers.”

That included the implementation of clearer signage and instruction on recycling bins in the residence halls. Other strides were made to communicate not only how to recycle unwanted items, but why.

Bert Guevara's insight:

It's important for the "waste generators" or the source of waste to decide how they want to dispose. A little information campaign with the right motivation goes a long way to pursuing zero waste goals.

 

“For this project, we were able to help the students understand that they were participating in a zero waste project and also helping other folks who are less fortunate,” said Laura Petit, recycling coordinator for the Town of New Paltz. “We were actually stopped by students and parents who asked us, ‘Where is this going?’ When they learned what we were doing they thought it was great and wanted to participate.”

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Used cigarettes given new life ("if you can't stop them, just make something out of their butts")

Used cigarettes given new life ("if you can't stop them, just make something out of their butts") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
MASHANTUCKET — A small mountain of extinguished cigarettes, stuffed in clear sealed plastic bags, piled up Thursday afternoon in the recycling
The plastic filters are recycled into bulk plastics for industrial products like pallets, and the tobacco and paper material is composted.
Since November, the casino has saved about 716,000 butts from the landfill, amounting to about 650 pounds, Foxwoods Environmental Services Supply and Equipment Manager Adam Lewis said.
Lewis said at this point, staff are only collecting cigarettes from its casinos.
“Once we include the hotels, the number could easily double,” he said.
Gamblers and other visitors who smoke at the casino are the first part of this recycling chain.
The cigarettes they throw away, either in ash trays or the special receptacles atop trash cans, are collected throughout the day by casino employees and placed in a small plastic bag. The bags eventually make their way to the casino’s recycling facility to a larger storage box.
Then, they’re picked up by a UPS truck. From Foxwoods, UPS takes them free of charge to TerraCycle’s plant in New Jersey.
TerraCycle accepts the extinguished cigarettes and ash, filters, loose tobacco pouches, rolling paper and the inner foil and outer plastic packaging from a pack.
“They can even make plastic ashtrays out of the cigarettes,” Lewis said.
Shipments to TerraCycle are made every two weeks.
“It’s usually 15 or 16 boxes, at between 5 and 8 pounds per box,” Lewis said.
Bert Guevara's insight:

Since we can't stop people from smoking, we may as well do something about their cigarette butts. Here is an example of how it's done.

 

"The efforts by Foxwoods and TerraCycle have regional benefits. For every pound of cigarette waste Foxwoods sends to TerraCycle, $1 is donated to the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut.

According to the nonprofit Keep America Beautiful, cigarettes are the most littered item in the world. Sixty-five percent of them are disposed of improperly.
While Foxwoods is only supplying discarded cigarettes, TerraCycle got its start in "worm poop," according to the New Jersey company's website.
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It is now illegal in France for supermarkets to throw away food ("affluence can't justify food waste")

It is now illegal in France for supermarkets to throw away food ("affluence can't justify food waste") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
But they can donate it all to charities, or for animal feed.

FRANCE’S PARLIAMENT VOTED unanimously tonight to ban food waste in big supermarkets – outlawing the destruction of unsold food.

Under the new law, supermarkets will have to prevent food waste and will be forced to donate unsold but edible food to charity, or for use as animal feed or compost.

They will also be able to donate products for energy and fuel purposes, France Info radio reports.

Socialist MP Guillaume Garot, who sponsored the bill, said:

It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods.

Under the new law, all large-sized supermarkets will have to sign contracts with a charity group to facilitate food donations.

According to L’Express magazine, children in France will now also be given be lessons on avoiding and preventing food waste, as part of their school curriculum.

French people throw away between 20 to 30 kilos (44 to 66 pounds) of food per person per year, which costs €12-20 billion annually.

In Ireland, the charity FoodCloud has estimated that at least 1 million tonnes of food are wasted here, every year.

The US state of Massachusetts introduced a similar law in 2014, banning businesses from throwing out food, if they throw out more than a tonne of it every week.

Bert Guevara's insight:

This is another "game-changing" policy that will send ripples to other countries with similar scandalous food waste practices.

 

"t’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods."

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The Sad Truth About What Happens To Your Old Gadgets ("e-waste is building monuments of obsolescence")

The Sad Truth About What Happens To Your Old Gadgets ("e-waste is building monuments of obsolescence") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
Your iPhone isn't biodegradable. Here's where it goes when you don't recycle it properly.

Your iPhone isn't biodegradable.

Of course, you know that. But what you might not understand is the massive problem that electronic waste represents for our planet. Arecent report from United Nations University in Japan declared that about 46 million tons of e-waste -- discarded phones, computer screens, lamps, microwaves and so on -- were produced in 2014 alone. That amount is only expected to rise in the coming years.

Many of these devices have toxic components. A lot of them could be recycled -- but aren't. Instead, they're shipped to developing countries -- sometimes illegally -- where they end up in landfills, waterways or public spaces.

Since 2013, the jarring photographs of the BIT ROT Project have shined a light on the human price of electronic waste, showing civilians digging through potentially dangerous heaps or struggling to dispose the materials themselves.

"If people would be more conscious about where their electronic trash would finish and in which way they are affecting others, poorest peoples' lives, I think they would act more carefully," photographer Valentino Bellini told The Huffington Post via email.

Take a look at the selections below to see the reality for yourself. For more photographs and information, visit the BIT ROT Project.

 

Bert Guevara's insight:

The other side of the glitter of modern gadgetry -- the disorganized disposal of obsolete gadgets that leads to toxic pollution. Check out the pictures!

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Waste Recycling and Building Materials | Sustainable Cities Collective ("new building mats from waste")

Waste Recycling and Building Materials | Sustainable Cities Collective ("new building mats from waste") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
Can waste have a second life as a building material? This is the question brought to surface through ETH Zurich’s Building from Waste exhibition. Held at Swissnex in San Francisco, the exhibition is based on the book 'Building from Waste: Recovered Materials in Architecture and Construction.'

Can waste have a second life as a building material? This is the question brought to surface throughETH Zurich’s Building from Waste exhibition. Held at Swissnex San Francisco, the exhibition is based on the book Building from Waste: Recovered Materials in Architecture and Construction from ETH Zurich and Future Cities Laboratories. Appropriately displayed upon wooden pallets, the exhibit invites visitors to handle, touch, and even smell more than twenty-five alternative construction materials derived from waste.

What does the future feel and smell like? Newspapers, ground husks, and earth with a hint of coffee. Yes, you heard correctly caffeine fiends. A tile created by Raul Lauri Design Lab of Alicante, Spain is composed solely from old coffee grounds and binding agents, giving it a deep brown color. This is just a vignette of the materials on display.

In the near future, we may not be building homes from traditional brick and mortar, but rather “growing” our walls with Mycoworks’ mushroom bricks. Composed of mushroom mycelium and agricultural waste, the fungal brick growing process shares more of a likeness to a prop out of a sci-fi film than a structural element. As a final product, these bricks are extremely lightweight, 100% compostable, and can withstand significant compression. Framing and finishes for housing may eventually be constructed fromNewspaperWood. Fabricated from discarded newspapers which have been soaked in glue and wrapped to form a log, the product can be cut, milled, drilled, nailed, and sanded like any other wood. Even its appearance is strikingly similar to wood grain, mimicking tree rings with subtle hints of color.

Bert Guevara's insight:

New trends in upcycling waste materials into building materials.

 

"A tile created by Raul Lauri Design Lab of Alicante, Spain is composed solely from old coffee grounds and binding agents, giving it a deep brown color.

Other materials include:

- Insulation made from old denim which serves as an effective thermal and soundproofing material.

- A light roofing material, tuff roof, made from Tetra Pak cartons which is water resistant, fire-retardant, corrosion-free, and has a 25% lower heat gain than conventional roofing materials.

- Lightweight Alusion Panels composed of liquified aluminum.

- A structural cube made up of vacuum sealed plastic bottles.

- A maintenance-free slate molded from discarded milk bottles, plastic bags, and limestone waste."

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Ambitious circular economy is within reach but beware the mob! | Circular Materials Economy

Ambitious circular economy is within reach but beware the mob! | Circular Materials Economy | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
Nyheter och finansiell information inom gruv- och återvinningsindustrierna. Gruvor, metaller, mineraler, recycling, återvinning, Samhällsbyggnad.

Everyone knows ways for plastic to not become waste. We can set up redesign, sharing, refill, recycling and even composting. When it comes to creating practical possibilities for not making waste, people are super smart. But when it comes to making policy to install this practice throughout the economy, which has been the aim of circular economy for the past 4 decades, we’re consistently collectively stupid. I call this mob thinking.

We have intelligent activists, businesspeople, experts and officials unintentionally thinking like a mob; always bringing forward the same decades old policy weapons. When these weapons don’t work there is a discussion about strategy but not any actual new strategy, just talk about how forcefully to use the same old policy weapons. This is how it’s been possible for waste management, waste regulation and the unsolved waste problem to all grow in tandem for so long.

If the piece of plastic had a voice in the circular economy debate what might it say? It would remind us to beware mob thinking. Today’s problems are solvable only by trying new thinking and new policy weapons. Precycling is an example. The piece of plastic doesn’t mind whether it’s part of a product that’s longlife or refilled or shared or refurbished or recycled or even composted (so long as it’s fully biodegradable). It doesn’t even mind being called ‘waste’ so long as it’s on its way to a new use. Action that ensures any of these is precycling.

Bert Guevara's insight:

It's time to aim higher on solid waste management. The obsolete prescriptions in the past have to be replaced with sustainable programs which promote a circular economy.


"The two possible outcomes for a piece of plastic, remaining as a resource or being dumped as ecological waste, are the same fates awaiting every product. Our economies and our futures depend on our ambition in arranging the right outcome. The old policy weapons of prescriptive targets and taxes, trying to force more of one waste management outcome or less of another, are largely obsolete. Circular economy can be fully and quickly implemented by policy to make markets financially responsible for the risk of products becoming ecological waste. Some everhopeful pieces of plastic would be grateful if we would get on with doing this."

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From Crisis to Myth: The Packaging Waste Problem (3Rs are working on packaging; but volume still up")

From Crisis to Myth: The Packaging Waste Problem (3Rs are working on packaging; but volume still up") | Global Recycling Movement | Scoop.it
While trash bags floating down streams still cause environmental headaches, packaging has not become the landfill headache Americans once feared.

Looking at the period from 1994 to 2012, the number of U.S. households rose nearly 25 percent. Garbage — what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls municipal solid waste — typically grows in line with the number of households and all the new "stuff" each household needs. Interestingly, EPA data indicates that waste during that period grew only 20 percent, less than household growth.

Good. That means Americans are generating a bit less waste per household than in the past.

But what's really encouraging is that packaging waste generated during that period did not increase (well, it did by 0.3 percent, basically equal to a rounding error). While overall waste increased 20 percent, packaging waste remained constant. As a result, packaging waste declined from 36 percent of our total waste to 30 percent.

This good news stands in stark contrast to predictions in 1994. Back then, the EPA stated that by 2010, packaging waste would grow by nearly a third to account for 38 percent of waste. That didn't happen. Instead, 24 million tons of annual packaging waste just didn't show up.

Where did it go? Did we start carrying everything home in old boxes and bottles? Hardly. There are two primary reasons for all that missing packaging waste.

First, remember the mantra "reduce, reuse, recycle"? Reduce comes first for a good reason: It's the best way to prevent waste in the first place. 

The second reason for all that missing packaging waste should be a source of pride. Of all the packaging waste generated from 1994 to 2012, more than half of it was recovered through recycling or energy recovery. 

Bert Guevara's insight:

It is true that the 3Rs mantra is now stronger than ever, with the improvement of technology. Even if the volume of packaging waste has "plateaued", notwithstanding the increase in population, the municipal solid waste volume continues to increase.

So the problem must be coming from somewhere else, not the packaging!

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