An idea for solving the plastics crisis

September 15, 2020 by  
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An idea for solving the plastics crisis Sara Kingman Tue, 09/15/2020 – 01:30 A major problem with behavior-change programs in the waste industry is that they rely on consumers being taught to feel the guilt of plastic in the ocean, and the harm to turtles and whales. They’ve tried to condition people to believe that if we buy so-called “zero waste kits,” choose zucchini and cucumbers without plastic shrink-wrap and champion our favorite reusable metal straws, these choices alone somehow will drive a reduction in single-use plastics. While these steps can provide some benefit — and the strategy of creating consumer guilt shouldn’t be entirely discredited — this narrative is misguided. Ultimately, it never will address the root of the issue. Instead, savvy leaders in architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) are focusing more attention on the plastics industry — and by extension, the oil industry. First, those producers and their trade groups for decades have driven misleading, consumer-centric campaigns that redirect societal blame and attention away from the pollution they create. The classic examples include “sustainability” statements made by plastics industry leaders promoting recycling . These campaigns insinuate: “If consumers recycle correctly, the waste problem will be solved and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will disappear.” This is plainly false propaganda, evident first by the astounding fact that a mere 8.4 percent of America’s plastic waste is actually recycled . Regardless whether designers of the built environment are involved in the policies of overseas plastics recycling, we create structures in which plastics are fixed in place and the spaces that plastics move through. As a society and as AEC professionals, we can’t continue allowing the plastics industry and oil producers to govern our approach to sustainability. Plastics are the problem — and recycling is not the solution. So how can more professionals in building design and construction make a difference? First, admit that recycling is broken. For the past decade, American consumers and businesses have relied on China to accept our immeasurable wave of plastic waste. The U.S. was not sending clean, recyclable material but rather plastics covered in food remains, which turned into mold in the transportation process and became excessively difficult to process upon arrival. Inevitably, by 2018 China instituted a strict contamination allowance under the National Sword policy, which effectively meant Americans no longer could export plastic waste to China. No one blames China for this decision — U.S. leaders should have had the foresight and environmental consciousness to realize the process relied on for the previous decade was not only unsustainable, it also wasn’t even a cost-effective solution for the long term. Now is the time to look domestically and reframe U.S. waste management — and quickly, because in the meantime America’s plastic waste is being landfilled and burned at an alarming rate, both domestically and abroad. Second, consider the AEC industry’s potentially powerful role in this. Regardless whether designers of the built environment are involved in the policies of overseas plastics recycling, we create structures in which plastics are fixed in place and the spaces that plastics move through. Clearly, we can have a significant impact. For example, building designers should: Create sustainable purchasing policies for clients, to be enforced throughout the lifetime of a building’s operations, governing the behaviors of all tenants. These would ensure single-use materials, and especially single-use plastic purchases, are minimized throughout the building’s lifetime. The policy facilitates the best opportunities to allow occupants to act in an environmentally conscious manner. Specify Red List -free building materials . This eliminates all toxic and socially harmful materials, simultaneously decreasing reliance on petrochemicals. Keep in mind, even if plastic building products are retained in situ for 60 years, at end-of-life they are still being landfilled. It’s unhealthy, and we don’t need and shouldn’t foster use of these materials in any buildings. Advocate for improvements to building materials and assemblies. More AEC leaders need to ask vendors and manufacturers to improve their products by decoupling from petrochemical-based ingredients. Many would be glad to comply. It’s time to face down this challenge. It is the responsibility of designers of the built environment to operate beyond our traditionally defined boundaries and insist our buildings meet the highest standards possible. It is also our responsibility to be educators and help show those around us how to ensure a healthy and sustainable world for future generations. The problem is not consumer choices or their commitment to recycling correctly — the problem is plastics, period. Without doubt or hesitation, we need action today by the AEC industry to stop the cycle of pollution from this endemic industry. Pull Quote Regardless whether designers of the built environment are involved in the policies of overseas plastics recycling, we create structures in which plastics are fixed in place and the spaces that plastics move through. Topics Circular Economy Buildings Plastic Procurement Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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An idea for solving the plastics crisis

Policy for a Circular Economy: Part 2

September 15, 2020 by  
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Policy for a Circular Economy: Part 2 How should diverse corporate stakeholders —such as brands and packaging producers — help shape the U.S. policy landscape around plastics, recycling and solid waste management? This two part policy session, organized in collaboration with the The Recycling Partnership, will focus on the role that brand and packaging producers can play in forging a stronger policy environment in the U.S. to create more circular outcomes. The steady growth of public attention around plastics and packaging has led to a revitalized policy focus in the U.S. on recycling and solid waste management in 2020. Historically, brands and packaging producers have played an antagonistic role in the U.S. packaging policy landscape. However, the emergence of a circular economy opportunity and the urgency of science-based action are creating the conditions for value chain engagement and collective participation in the policymaking process. Speakers Elizabeth Biser, VP Policy & Public Affairs, The Recycling Partnership Nicole Collier, Director of Policy & Public Affairs, Nestlé Dylan de Thomas, VP of Industry Collaboration, The Recycling Partnership Missy Owens, Director, Government Relations, Federal & Diplomatic, Coca-Cola  Holly Secon Mon, 09/14/2020 – 23:59 Featured Off

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Policy for a Circular Economy: Part 2

Old coffee roastery to be reborn as a net-zero carbon office in London

August 20, 2020 by  
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The local planning council for London’s Vauxhall district has recently given the green light for an adaptive reuse scheme to transform a disused Costa Coffee roastery into a six-story, net-zero carbon office development. Designed by British architectural design firm Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBStudios), the project — named Paradise — will replace a neglected site with 60,000 square feet of work and maker space housed within a landmark cross-laminated timber structure. The sustainably minded building will follow WELL standards, passive design principles and quality place-making values to benefit both the local and citywide community. Located on Old Paradise Street, the Paradise project aims to catalyze job creation in Lambeth and attract creative industries in this part of London. The timber-framed office development will feature a flexible, open-plan layout with tall ceilings and large windows that not only maximize natural light and ventilation but also frame views of the passing trains and the neighboring Old Paradise Gardens. In a nod to the site’s location as a “key link” in the “green chain” that joins Waterloo to Vauxhall, the architects plan to wrap the building in a green, extruded terracotta facade that takes cues from the former Royal Doulton Headquarters. Related: Gensler upcycles an old warehouse into creative offices in Austin “Paradise was born of a collective approach to sustainable design, humanistic values and quality place-making, but also the desire to make a healthy and innovative workplace that people would love to use,” said Alex Whitbread, partner at FCBStudios. “Paradise is designed to be part of its local and citywide community and to make a responsible contribution globally. With this scheme receiving planning permission, we hope it will set the standard for office design that is net-carbon-zero and has the wellbeing of the user at the fore. We are looking forward to bringing it to fruition.” Bywater Properties has proposed allocating up to 13% of the total floor area for non-office use, such as light industrial and maker spaces, 68% of which will be made affordable with priority given to local businesses. The adaptive reuse proposal is also on target for almost 60 years of a negative carbon footprint. + Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios Images via Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

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Old coffee roastery to be reborn as a net-zero carbon office in London

What do Americans think about fake meat products?

February 21, 2020 by  
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The topic of how we produce food is commonplace and more relevant than ever. After all, the way we choose to grow produce affects waterways, soil and air, which in turn, affects each of us. When it comes to raising animals for meat, the stakes are even higher. Report after report doles out alarming numbers regarding pollution related to the practice. Plus, animal activists frequently remind us about how animals are treated when they are raised as food sources. The rise of fake meat With all of this in mind, it’s no wonder that food scientists have been investing copious research and development time, money and energy into finding meat alternatives. Some have already been around for decades, while new alternatives are consistently hitting the market. Although beef replacements are the most common, you can find pork, chicken and even fish alternatives. Related: Vegan and lab-grown meats predicted to take over meat market in 20 years Opinions on meat substitutes So what do people actually think about this “fake meat” phenomenon? A research group called Piplsay posed the question nationwide in a January 2020 survey and received 31,909 responses from individuals aged 18 years and older. The results show an overwhelming interest in the products and an underwhelming satisfaction. Specifically, 51% of Americans have tried meat substitute products at least once, a majority of which (53%) said they tried it because they were curious. Another 32% responded they tried it due to a concern for the environment or for their health . Others say they are trying to go vegan or vegetarian and were wondering if the meat substitute would satisfy the longing for meat (15%). Why are people trying fake meat? The results show there are a variety of reasons people try or continue to consume fake meat, none of which seem to be because they actually prefer the taste. In fact, out of 31,909 responses, fewer than 30% gave the products a thumbs up. When it comes to health, the debate rages on to whether fake meat has anything to offer. Even though 27% felt fake meat was a healthy and eco-friendly alternative, a slightly larger 28% felt these meat alternatives can’t beat real meat. Another 20% suggest the products are highly processed, counterbalancing any potential benefits from avoiding meat. A quarter of the respondents said they didn’t know what to think of them. Related: Beyond & Impossible alternative meats — are they healthier than the real thing? The most popular brands for meat substitutes When Piplsay asked people what brands they had tried, a group of big names were, not surprisingly, in the top five. Seven percent of respondents had tried Hormel, and another 7% tried Perdue brands. Impossible Foods is relatively new to the market, but at the time of this survey, 11% of respondents had tried it. Tyson garnered another 13%, and the most-frequently tried products are produced by Beyond Meat (15%). The type of meat substitute that people were interested in trying varied, too, with beef being the most popular at 38%. Chicken came in at 29%. There was a significant drop for pork at 18%, but it is a newer product to the market. Finally, fish swam in at just 15%. Study demographics One interesting result of the survey is that there didn’t seem to be a huge geographical discrepancy. The top three states where fake meat is consumed “quite often” are Washington (18%), South Dakota (20%) and Vermont (26%). These numbers don’t represent the populations as a whole, but rather the frequency of respondents who say they eat fake meat quite often, which is 12% of overall respondents. In contrast, 23% said they’ve had it once or twice and 16% admit they’ve only had it once. Age is one category where the survey highlights fairly large differences. Millennials are by far the most likely to eat fake meat on a regular basis. Although only 16% of millennials eat fake meat regularly, that’s twice the reported number from baby boomers, at only 8%. Not only do millennials rank the highest for consuming the products, but their reason for doing so stands out as well. The report shows that 23% of millennials eat fake meat for health and environmental reasons , which is highest among the age groups. In contrast, the age group with the largest number of people saying they have no interest in even trying fake meat goes to the baby boomers, with 52% opposed to the idea. The fake meat trend has room for improvement All in all, the survey revealed that while many people are interested in trying, have tried or regularly consume meat alternatives, most people feel these products leave more to be desired in terms of flavor and healthful ingredients. Still, people seem to still eat many of these fake meats for betterment of the planet, and there is still plenty of room in the industry for existing and new brands to grow and innovate. + Piplsay Images via Shutterstock

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What do Americans think about fake meat products?

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