Do Sustainable Plastics Exist?

Day 263Better Future Factory believes they do and they want to help brands and businesses reduce, reuse and recycle plastics. They believe that a circular economy for plastics can exist.

Their services include:

  1. By gaining insight into your current plastic use, they find out how to make your products and packaging future proof.
  2. They help you to build an actionable plastic strategy for the years to come.
  3. They design & engineer new or redesign existing products and packaging, fit for the circular economy.
  4. They make the circular economy tangible by creating iconic products from discarded plastics.

Their mission is to have no more plastic wasted.

The categories in which they have done work include:

  1. Artwork
  2. Consumer Products
  3. Furniture and Retail
  4. Packaging Design

They have made artwork from old file folders. They developed the perfect packaging for Packback, a Dutch start-up revolutionizing the home delivery and take-away market with a reusable packaging system. Packback takes the packaging back, cleans it and brings it back in the loop. As experts in plastics recycling they pushed their skills to go bigger and they 3D-printed a set of stools, a bar table and a reception desk from recycled PET bottles. They were then placed in the entrance hall of an office building in Rotterdam, Netherlands. They worked with Erno Lazlo (New York based skin-care brand) to develop their Clean & Sustainable 2020 initiative for packaging. The first sustainable improvements have been implemented and available for customers, e.g. a soap bar wrapped in paper instead of a plastic box, a reusable soap dish made from the old soap bar plastic boxes and a fully recyclable cap for their iconic jars.

Better Future Factory exists to help the plastic waste problem. More companies need to recognize the problem and start to take responsibility for the products they produce for consumers.

Tomorrow, zero emissions day.

Skipping the Plastic Cup at the Marathon

Day 258 – One marathon race can attract tens of thousands of runners. With each race water is provided and sometimes in plastic cups or bottles. Sadly, that turns into a great deal of plastic waste. One company is working to change that.

Skipping Rocks Lab have designed an edible water pod in hopes of creating a sustainable alternative to single-use bottles.

“Made entirely from seaweed, each Ooho pod biodegrades in just four to six weeks — about the same amount of time it takes a piece of fruit to fully decompose. Every part of the pod is edible, and it can even be flavored and colored if you feel like working a little variation in. The pods have a shelf-life of just a few days to ensure that the water within them stays fresh. On top of all of that, they’re also cheaper and cleaner to produce than plastic bottles, yielding five times less carbon dioxide and nine times less Energy vs PET.” – Dornob.com

Ooho is still in its very early days, which means that its currently only available at certain events across the globe. So far, the edible water pods have been distributed in London, San Francisco, and Boston, making appearances at marathons, conferences, private functions, festivals, and pop-up stores.

Ooho has already replaced standard sauce packets in The Fat Pizza, a UK based fast-food eatery. Sauces are packaged in the pod, preventing the use of plastic packaging.

It may seem like a strange concept, but these are the changes that need to happen and they need to happen now.

Tomorrow, preserving the ozone.

Multifamily Recycling Resources

Day 256 – Recycling in a multifamily building is not always an easy task. More times than not there is confusion as to whose responsibility it is to implement a recycling program. Is it the building owner, the building manager, the building association (if one exists) or is it the individual tenant to find ways to recycle?

Thankfully, The Recycling Partnership has created customized collateral to help educate about what’s accepted in your community’s multifamily recycling program.

The Partnership’s Multifamily Recycling Guide and Community Toolkit features free customizable resources and templates for communities to use in their outreach to multifamily property owners, managers, and residents.

Sign up for free to access the customizable resources, which include:

  • Infocards
  • Postcard
  • Full-page flyer
  • Door hanger
  • Recycling container illustration set

The included messaging and resources have been tailored to residents and include information on how to use common area recycling locations, door-step collection and/or in-home recycling bin, if provided, according to various multifamily property recycling setups.

Click HERE to get started.

Tomorrow, lost golf balls finding a new home.

Upstream: Changing the Throw Away Culture

Day 255 – So what is Upstream? Good question.

“Upstream® was founded in 2003 as a public-interest, non-profit organization by a group of Zero Waste activists in the US and Canada. While working together in the 1990s, these leaders felt too many environmental groups were only focused on “downstream” or “end of pipe” solutions like recycling and composting. But they knew we can’t recycle or compost our way to a sustainable future. We have to work “upstream” to redesign the systems generating all the waste in the first place.” – Upstream

Upstream is working to create a world where you will find:

  1. Everyone dining out at restaurants is eating off real plates and cutlery, and drinking from real cups.
  2. To-go coffee is served in reusable cups loaned from a reuse service providing clean, sanitized cups to coffee shops.
  3. Restaurants, grocery stores and delis use services that provide them with clean, sanitized reusable to-go containers for prepared food, takeout and delivery.
  4. At the ballpark, everyone is drinking beer out of real cups. And touch-free soda fountains dispense drinks in reusable cups after you put in your credit card.
  5. You can order groceries, cleaning and personal care products delivered in reusable containers in a reusable box tote.
  6. Tens of thousands of people are employed throughout the area in delivery, pick-up, cleaning, stocking and logistics.
  7. Litter and solid waste costs are down and community pride is up.
  8. None of these innovations required you to bring your own anything. People got tired of single-use waste. And entrepreneurs said we can do it without single-use, and we can do it better.
  9. Community leaders and policymakers worked to create the conditions for this thriving reuse economy. Then the big companies saw this was the future, and everyone started doing it.

Upstream exists to push the idea of reuse. They offer resources for businesses and individuals to make the changes needed to move away from single-use.

Explore the Learning Hub created for activists, educators, policymakers, business leaders and changemakers – like you – to get the information you need to engage and support your community.

Join the movement today!

Tomorrow, multifamily recycling resources.

Green Disk: Recycling Your Techno Trash

Day 245 – Today, you can stream pretty much anything. Music, movies, TV shows, video games and anything else you can think of, are ready to go without the need for disks or tapes. So, what can we do with all that stuff that once lined the shelves of your media cabinet? There are some places that will take your old movies and CDs as a donation. There are even places that might even pay you. However, don’t expect to get rich from your collection. The need and want for these items is rapidly decreasing. As for your burned CDs or VHS tapes, no one wants those and throwing them out should not be an option.

Green Disk offers recycling services for your techno trash. Just a few of the items that Green Disk will accept, includes:

  1. CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs and cases
  2. DVDs and cases
  3. Blu-ray and cases
  4. 3.5″ and 5.25″ floppy disks
  5. Zip and Jazz disks
  6. VHS
  7. Audio cassette tapes
  8. DAT, DLT, Beta and Digibeta

To see the complete list of accepted items, click HERE.

Green Disk offers a variety of ways to recycle your techno trash through numerous container options. Choose the size that fits your needs.

As technology advances and we find ourselves with items that we no longer need, it is our responsibility to try to find ways to dispose of items in an environmentally friendly way. At times there is a cost, but the cost to the planet is far greater if we don’t take proper action.

Tomorrow, old oyster shells being put to good use.

Do You Recycle? Challenge

Day 244 – A new program just started in Atlanta, Georgia, to try to encourage more people to recycle.

“Atlanta’s Do You Recycle? Challenge is engaging 100 multifamily buildings citywide to provide recycling training and education to residents over the next 12 months, culminating in a public recognition event for the properties with the highest achievements in improving recycling participation and reducing the amount trash or nonrecyclables in the recycling.”recyclingpartnership.org

So why is Atlanta offering this challenge?

In the US, every year 22 million tons of household recyclables go to landfills, become litter, and pollute our waters. While packaging plays a key role in keeping products safe and transportable, it too often is discarded when it could be used again. Recycling protects resources from depletion, allows communities to manage the amount of trash they have to handle, and protects the environment by saving water and greenhouse gases.” – recyclingpartnership.org

The program is planned to run three years and hopes to include more multifamily homes. They hope their efforts will keep more recyclables out of landfills.

Live Thrive, an Atlanta-based recycling non-profit organization, will serve as the community hub for the Do You Recycle? Challenge. Last year Live Thrive’s Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) diverted 1370 tons of items from the landfill.

Participating properties will receive:

– Technical assistance
– Education materials
– Signage
– Public recognition
– An improved sustainability amenity

If Atlanta can prove that such a program can be successful in diverting recyclable material from to the landfill, then there is no reason why it should not be pushed out to cities around the country. Would you be ready for the challenge?

Tomorrow, an option to recycle your old CDs, DVDs and VHS tapes.

Maine is Holding Companies Accountable for Their Packaging Waste

Day 239 – Maine is the first state in the nation to hold big corporations and brands accountable for the plastic waste and packaging they have created. Maine has joined more than 40 jurisdictions around the world to require companies that create packaging waste help pay for the costs of recycling. The new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging law (LD 1541) will increase recycling rates, reduce packaging pollution, and save taxpayers money. 

For far too long all the responsibility for finding ways to recycle product packaging has been on the consumer. Finally, the responsibility will be on the manufacturers and companies that are producing the items. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a special type of waste management policy created to safely and responsibly dispose of difficult-to-recycle products and materials. EPR shifts the costs of dealing with difficult types of waste from town governments, to manufacturers and corporations, that have control over the safety and recyclability of the products they make and sell. 

Natural Resources of Council of Maine lists the problems that new EPR for Packaging law will target:

  1. Provides incentives for producers and big corporations to make less waste and more eco-friendly packaging.
  2. Takes the financial burden off taxpayers—so towns will no longer have to cut programs or raise taxes due to recycling costs.
  3. Creates a uniform list of materials collected in each participating municipal recycling program.  

There is no doubt that having this Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging Law, will make a huge difference in the waste produced in Maine. We can only hope that the example set in Maine will be the playbook that all states throughout the country follow.

Tomorrow, a company upcycling materials into new products.

Yoga Mats Made from Recycled or Renewable Materials

Day 237 – Many yoga mats are made from PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). Back on Day 179, I wrote about the harmful effects of PVC and its potential to lead to health issues. So, you can bet having a yoga mat made from PVC is not a wise choice. Here are a few examples of yoga mats made with safer and earth friendly materials. One brand is made from natural rubber, another natural cork and a third, recycled wetsuits.

Jade Yoga

Jade Yoga is the first brand in the US that makes yoga mats with natural rubber. When harvested sustainably, natural rubber is a renewable material that can decompose at the end of life. Jade Yoga provides tips for properly recycling / upcycling old yoga mats. Jade Yoga plants a tree for every yoga mat they sell—so far, they’ve planted more than two million trees with their partnership with Trees for the Future. They also have a Community Partners program where people who generally don’t have a chance to try yoga can receive a grant to do so.

Urbivore

This mat is made from a thin layer of natural cork on top of a natural rubber backing—both are biodegradable and renewable materials. Cork is naturally antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal, which means it requires minimal maintenance and won’t give off a bad smell. Cork is made from the bark of cork oak trees, mostly grown in Portugal. A cork oak tree stripped of its bark can absorb more CO2 in the regeneration process, so it actually helps combat climate change.

Suga

Suga recycles wetsuits into yoga mats. The name Suga comes from the combination of the words “surf” and “yoga”. Suga has diverted 12,500 wetsuits from the landfill. Not only are the mats made from recycled material, but they are also recyclable. When you are done with your old mat, you can send it back to Suga to make new ones. Suga mats are made in the US.

The next time you are in search of a new yoga mat, consider how healthy the mat is for you and the planet.

Tomorrow, celebrating the dogs.

3D Printing Food Waste into Usable Products

Day 233 – I first came across an article about a company in Milan, named Krill Designs, that is transforming inedible food waste into functional homeware products. One of the products is a 3D printed lamp made from orange peels. The “Ohmie” is a compostable lamp made from the peels of two to three oranges that are dried, ground into a powder, and added to a vegetable starch base. That combined material is molded into pellets used in a 3D printing process that layers the material into a textured shade and base. Due to the organic matter that makes up the lamp, the color varies. One of the coolest features is that even as it ages it maintains its citrusy smell.

So, after reading about the orange lamp, I wanted to find out more about 3D printing food waste into usable products. I found two very cool companies that are taking food waste and turning into something quite amazing!

Upprinting Food

Upprinting Food is a company in the Netherlands that is turning food waste into attractive, tasty food using 3D printing.

By blending and combining the different ingredients from residual food flows, purees are created, which then are being 3D printed by a food printer. These prints are baked and dehydrated for crunch and longevity. We currently have created several recipes, both bread, and rice-based, and we are working to create new recipes all the time. We are focusing on collaborations with high-end restaurants to help them reduce their residual food flows and to create a unique dining experience.” – Upprinting Food

Genecis

Genecis is a Canadian company that has figured out a way to recycle food waste and turn it into biodegradable plastics, which can then be used to make everything from 3D printing filament to packaging. Their PHBV plastic has equivalent properties to traditional oil based plastics, without the environmental costs. When the product reaches end of its useful life it can be composted within a month. If it does find its way into the ocean, it degrades within a year.

“Genecis uses biology to convert organic waste into higher value materials. The first product line is PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates) biopolymers, which is used in combination with PLA to make 3D printing filaments. It is also used to make high-end flexible packaging and containers. In addition, PHAs makes a tougher and less brittle 3D printing filament. The end product is 100 percent biodegradable, and can be mixed with a variety of colors,” explained Luna Yu, the Founder and CEO of Genecis. “Currently, all PHAs are made from expensive food crops such as corn, sugar cane, and canola. Genecis has developed a novel technology that produces PHAs from mixed food waste, dramatically reducing the production costs.”

The technology is there to help numerous problems that plague our planet. Food waste and plastic pollution could be a thing of the past if companies decide to tap into these brilliant solutions.

Tomorrow, we are at a point where we need to cover our mountains in order to save the snow caps.

Recycling Facts

Day 232 – There are currently over 2,000 landfills in the United States. The reason we have so many landfills is due to the fact that we, Americans, throw a lot of stuff away. We are constantly tossing things in the trash without giving a second thought as to where it goes. If we just took a moment to ask, “Where is away?”, maybe we could start making changes in our behavior to minimize the amount of waste we produce.

Rubicon is the leading provider of cloud-based waste and recycling solutions for businesses, governments, and organizations worldwide. With more than 4.9 million service locations, Rubicon focuses on developing software solutions that bring new transparency to the waste and recycling industry—encouraging customers to make data-driven decisions that lead to more efficient and effective operations as well as more sustainable outcomes.

Rubicon put together a list of 50 Recycling and Landfill Facts That Will Make You Think Twice About Your Trash. I thought I would just share 20 of them in hopes it will get you thinking about trash and ways to start reducing your amount.

  1. Nine-tenths of all solid waste in the United States does not get recycled.
  2. Landfills are among the biggest contributors to soil pollution – roughly 80% of the items buried in landfills could be recycled.
  3. The U.S. recycling rate is around 34.5%. If we’re able to get the rate to 75%, the effect will be like removing 50 million passenger cars from U.S. roads.
  4.  9 out of 10 people said they would recycle if it were “easier”.
  5. The United States throws away $11.4 billion worth of recyclable containers and packaging every year.
  6. In the United States, we throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour – about 42,000 per minute, or about 695 per second.
  7. The amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the state of Texas.
  8. According to a study done by the University of Georgia, 18 billion pounds of plastic trash winds up in our oceans each year. To put that in perspective, it’s enough trash to cover every foot of coastline around the world with five full trash bags of plastic…compounding every year.
  9. Over 100,000 marine animals die every year from plastic entanglement and ingestion.
  10. Glass, like aluminum, is infinitely recyclable – without any loss in purity or quality.
  11. Glass container manufacturers hope to achieve 50 percent recycled content in the manufacture of new glass bottles. This achievement would save enough energy to power 21,978 homes for one year and while removing over 181 tons of waste from landfills monthly.
  12. In only three months, enough aluminum cans are thrown out in the United States to rebuild all of our commercial air fleets.
  13. You can make 20 new cans from recycled material using the same amount of energy that it takes to make 1 brand new can.
  14. While the United States celebrates the holidays, Americans produce an additional 5 million tons of waste (four million of the 5 million tons consisting of wrapping paper and shopping bags).
  15. The majority of the 4 million tons of junk mail that Americans receive annually ends up in landfills.
  16. On average, Americans use 650 pounds of paper a year. Each.
  17. Americans make nearly 400 billion photocopies a year, which comes out to 750,000 copies every minute.
  18. The average office worker in the United States goes through roughly 500 disposable cups annually.
  19.  2,000 pounds (or 1 ton) of recycled paper helps to save over 350 gallons of oil, 17 trees, and a large portion of landfill space
  20. Of the 62 million newspapers printed daily in the United States, 44 million will be thrown away (roughly 500,000 trees).

Until we begin to realize that even though our trash may leave our house, it is not leaving our town or city. It is just being transported to another location, where the pile will continue to grow and grow. When will we begin to realize that a change needs to happen? Maybe when that pile becomes so large that the trash finds its way back to your home.

Tomorrow, a use for mango skins you most likely had no idea was possible.