Soil Algae aims to improve soil quality through algae cultures

June 6, 2018 by  
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Algae : it’s not just for bodies of water anymore. Algae Research and Supply , a company based in Carlsbad, California that historically provides algae products for educational purposes, aims to bring its algae cultures to farmers across the world through a line of products called Soil Algae , so that farms may improve the health of their soil and boost production. In addition to offering its own algae cultures, Soil Algae also offers products that will allow farmers to cultivate the indigenous varieties of algae found in their fields. “Twenty percent of the microbial biomass in natural, healthy soil is algae, but many farmers only monitor and maintain bacteria and fungi.” said Matthew Huber, Chief Scientist at Algae Research and Supply, in a statement. “We want to bring Soil Algae to the public consciousness.” The company is now running a Kickstarter campaign to do just that. Algae Research and Supply originally became intrigued by algae’s agricultural potential when farmers continued to buy algae cultures from them. Upon digging into research, the company concluded that algae’s benefits for agricultural production should be more widely promoted, particularly as the world faces a crisis of growing populations and degrading soils. Some of the benefits of adding algae directly into irrigation lines include increased water retention through algae-produced polysaccharide, reduced erosion through its cementing effect in soil , more aerated soil, and a reduction of nutrient runoff through a process known as luxary uptake, which also decreases algal bloom in bodies of water. Related: Light-manipulating algae could boost solar power technology Soil Algae, specifically through bluegreen algae or cyanobacteria, is also capable of pulling nitrogen from the air and converting it into usable nitrogen within the soil. The added algae increases soil biodiversity, organic biomass, and the total humus found in soil, all good things for farmers keen to produce in healthy soils. “Algae in our soil has long been neglected but it is nevertheless important for soil ecology . We intend to correct that gap in knowledge,” said Huber. Via Soil Algae Images courtesy of Algae Research and Supply

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Soil Algae aims to improve soil quality through algae cultures

UN releases first "state of plastics" report on World Environment Day

June 6, 2018 by  
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The United Nations has released its first-ever global plastics report on June 5th, World Environment Day. Well-timed and thematically coordinated, the UN “state of plastics” report debuted for this year’s theme, “Beat Plastic Pollution.” Officially named Single-Use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability , the report documents the efforts of more than 60 countries to fight plastic pollution by implementing bans or taxes on single-use plastic items, concluding that such policies are the most effective means to reduce plastic usage. “The assessment shows that action can be painless and profitable — with huge gains for people and the planet that help avert the costly downstream costs of pollution,” head of UN Environment Erik Solheim wrote in the report. “Plastic isn’t the problem. It’s what we do with it.” In addition to assessing policy solutions, the report also outlines the current state of plastic recycling and disposal. According to the report, only 9 percent of plastic is recycled, while 79 percent of all plastic ends up in landfills, garbage dumps or in the natural world. Twelve percent is incinerated, resulting in pollutants that enter the atmosphere and affect environmental health. Of particular concern is the use of plastic bags, which often block water ways, provide disease-spreading insects with a place to breed and harm wildlife. Related: Pilot whale dies in Thailand with more than 17 pounds of plastic in its stomach Of the countries that have implemented plastic bag bans or taxes, 50 percent were not able to provide data to effectively evaluate the policy impact. Thirty percent of the total countries reported that their policies reduced the use of plastic bags within a year of implementation, while 20 percent said that their policy changes had little effect. This lack of impact may be due to poor enforcement or simply that consumers don’t have access to affordable alternatives. The report highlights the success of Morocco , in which an enforced ban resulted in the seizure of 421 tons of plastic bags and a near-total replacement of plastic bags with fabric. The report recommends that bans and taxes be supplemented with improved waste management, a circular plastic production and consumption model, and financial benefits dispersed to businesses and consumers to encourage the development and adoption of plastic alternatives. + UN Environment Via Ecowatch Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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UN releases first "state of plastics" report on World Environment Day

The latest champion in the battle against climate change: fast food burgers

June 6, 2018 by  
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Swedish fast food chain Max Burgers (MAX) made headlines around a decade ago when it started labeling menu items with carbon footprints. Now, the company is launching what it describes as climate-positive burgers . MAX says it  plants trees to absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than the total emissions of its products. MAX CEO Richard Bergfors said in a statement, “We know that we are part of the problem and together with our guests, we can now be part of the solution.” Climate-positive burgers will pop up this month in just over 130 restaurants around the world — MAX, founded in 1968 in Sweden , now boasts joints in Norway, Denmark, Poland, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Here’s how the company plans to make its menu offerings good for the environment . First, it measures all product emissions, including waste from meals and emissions generated when employees and guests travel to and from MAX restaurants. The company then works in various ways to lower emissions, such as recycling frying oil into biodiesel , recycling heat in restaurants and introducing a Green Family of burgers made with vegetables, beans or Halloumi cheese. Finally, MAX says it captures at least 110 percent of its emissions by planting trees. Related: Swiss grocery store chain will be the first to sell insect burgers “The reasoning behind the launch of climate-positive burgers is simple: climate change on our planet is out of control, and we need to stabilize it,” Bergfors said. “To meet the two-degree climate goal set out in the Paris Agreement , the world needs to work harder at cutting emissions and start the work of clearing greenhouse gases that have already been emitted into the atmosphere. Just going carbon neutral is not enough anymore.” One out of three of MAX meals sold today don’t have red meat , according to the company, and the goal is that by 2022, every other meal won’t have red meat. The chain thinks that hitting this target could allow it to reduce emissions by 30 percent in seven years. MAX is also behind an initiative called Clipop , with New Zealand car-sharing company Mevo , to register climate positive products from around the world. The team hopes more companies will get on board. + MAX Climate-Positive + Rethink Burgers + Clipop Images courtesy of Max Burgers

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The latest champion in the battle against climate change: fast food burgers

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