Austin passes law banning restaurants from throwing out food waste

October 5, 2018 by  
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Restaurants in Austin, Texas have revamped operations this week by adopting sustainable measures for food waste . According to a new law, which went into effect on October 1, local eateries must now dispose of waste in a responsible manner as part of Austin’s Universal Recycling Ordinance (URO). The businesses are encouraged to choose from a variety of options, including donating unconsumed goods, sending leftovers to farms or composting organic waste in order to divert trash from landfills. Employees are also being given supplementary training on how to properly handle food waste with care for the environment. The URO is a major catalyst for Texas’ Zero Waste by 2040 pledge and also includes lateral initiatives to broaden recycling measures and safeguard sustainable economic development. Related: New study finds food waste will increase to 66 tons per second if left unchecked “The City is committed to helping companies, large and small, find cost-effective solutions and establish diversion programs to ensure food and other organics are put to best use while meeting ordinance requirements,” said Sam Angoori, Interim Director for Austin Resource Recovery. The organization has become a go-to for businesses that need help reshaping their operations to comply with the new food waste regulations. And the help is certainly needed. According to local government studies, “the [Austin] community needs to divert more than 90 percent of discards from being burned or buried” in order to transform Texas’ zero waste ambitions into a reality. Government research from 2015 reveals that about 37 percent of trash sent to overburdened landfills is actually organic, meaning it could easily be composted and reused to benefit — not harm — the environment. “When we waste food, we not only add organic materials to landfills (where they generate methane, a powerful global warming pollutant), but we also waste all the water , land, energy, money, labor and other resources that go into growing, processing, distributing and storing that food,” explained Senior Research Specialist Darby Hoover from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Austin joins cities such as New York, Seattle and San Francisco leading the way with food waste redirection programs of their own. San Francisco boasts the top score on the environmental leaderboard by diverting an astounding 80 percent of its total waste from landfills and, most importantly, showing other cities that it can be done. More likely than not, other cities will soon be embracing similar initiatives based on the successes of their pioneering neighbors — something that both people and the environment can be thankful for. + Austin Resource Recovery Via The Huffington Post  and  The Rockefeller Foundation Image via  Pawe? Czerwi?ski

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It "sounded like an explosion:" avalanche of trash kills 16 people in Mozambique

February 26, 2018 by  
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A devastating garbage landslide precipitated by heavy rainfall wounded six people and killed 16 in Maputo, Mozambique , The Guardian reported . The 42-acre Hulene dump — located in the impoverished neighborhood of Hulene — rises nearly 50 feet above residents who live around the edges, and the avalanche consumed over 10 homes. Local Paulina Cosa told The Guardian, “It was late and the rain was pouring down, but I was woken up by something that sounded like an explosion.” Hulene dump collapse: Sixteen people confirmed dead – #Mozambique civil protection https://t.co/2h9vnyX45T #SADC #Africa pic.twitter.com/b26ecZouGd — Club of Mozambique (@clubOmozambique) February 20, 2018 People who live near the Hulene dump and earn money salvaging trash are exposed to stench, mosquitoes, and disease. Life isn’t easy, and 16 people lost their lives when rains triggered an avalanche around 3 AM one morning last week. The rubbish swallowed around 328 feet of land, consuming houses and killing people. Related: Tel Aviv’s notorious ‘Garbage Mountain’ transforms into world’s largest recycling park Maputo’s director of health and cemeteries Joao Mucavele told The Guardian people from the neighborhood, municipality, and Red Cross came to help. Recovery operations are over now as earth-moving equipment shoves back heaps of trash. Mucavele told The Guardian, “We are now working to return the waste to where it came from. The people who were living here will be given help, but no one can live here from now on.” Residents at the collapse site were moved to a temporary shelter around 30 minutes away. Authorities believe more bodies could be buried at the Hulene garbage dump on the outskirts of Maputo, and a search was underway. https://t.co/0ggbX9kJs1 pic.twitter.com/osRmrCUdFQ — All4Women.co.za (@all4women) February 20, 2018 Some people have called for the resignation of mayor David Simango, who campaigned for re-election in 2013 with the promise to shut down the dump. Livaningo , a local environmental activism organization, has been trying to get the dump closed for 15 years. They say it’s operating way above capacity and creating hazardous living conditions. Activist Manuel Cardoso said they’ve been telling the government such an event like this one would happen for years, telling The Guardian, “What we are looking for now is how we can help these families find justice. Where is the responsibility of the government?” Eight people were buried in a state-sponsored funeral last week. Maputo City governor Iolanda Cintura said in a speech, “On behalf of the government, in my own name we apologize to the Uamusse, Ngovene, Thousene, Mondlane, and Bendene families for what happened. We expect everybody to help all these families to recover their hope.” Via The Guardian Image via Depositphotos

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It "sounded like an explosion:" avalanche of trash kills 16 people in Mozambique

Extreme Arctic warmth deeply concerning, scientists say

February 26, 2018 by  
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A recent bout of extreme warm weather in the far north Arctic Circle is setting new temperature records and unnerving climate scientists. “To have zero degrees [Celsius] at the North Pole in February – it’s just wrong,” researcher Amelie Meyer told the Sydney Morning Herald . “It’s quite worrying.” Cape Morris Jessup in Greenland , the most northern land-based weather station, has already experienced 61 hours above freezing this year, an all-time record. The previous record was set in 2011 at only 16 hours above freezing by the end of April that year. The world’s weather seems to literally be upside down. Climate scientist Andrew King told the Sydney Morning Herald “Parts of Greenland are quite a bit warmer than most of Europe”. In addition to, and likely connected to, climate change, the so-called polar vortex that has kept frigid polar air contained in the Arctic has weakened in recent decades. As a result, warm air more frequently settles in the far North even during winter while extremely cold air has dipped deep into North America and Eurasia, bringing temperatures in normally warm regions to record lows. As north Greenland experiences its relatively balmy weather, continental Europe endures a deep freeze, with temperatures in Berlin dropping as low as minus 12 degrees Celsius. The abnormal weather is even changing the orientation of weather systems. “For Britain and Ireland, most weather systems would typically blow in from the west, but [on Tuesday] we will see a cold front cross Britain from the east,” said Dr. King. Related: Scientists dash to explore Antarctic ecosystem hidden by ice for 120,000 years In light of the extreme weather, the ice coverage in the Bering Sea is now at levels usually seen in May or June. The long-term effect of shrinking ice coverage acts as a positive feedback loop. Sunlight is reflected off of ice back into space, protecting the frozen seas . When the ice is gone, this heat is absorbed by the water, which then warms ice that remains. The situation is grim; while scientists had originally predicted an ice-free Arctic by 2050, these recent warm spells calls this prediction into question. Via Sydney Morning Herald Images via Climate Reanalyzer and NASA  

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What’s Banned in Landfills: A State-by-State Guide

November 27, 2017 by  
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In some cases, it’s not about whether you should recycle … The post What’s Banned in Landfills: A State-by-State Guide appeared first on Earth911.com.

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What’s Banned in Landfills: A State-by-State Guide

What’s Banned in Landfills: A State-by-State Guide

November 27, 2017 by  
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In some cases, it’s not about whether you should recycle … The post What’s Banned in Landfills: A State-by-State Guide appeared first on Earth911.com.

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What’s Banned in Landfills: A State-by-State Guide

MIT students develop method to reinforce concrete using plastic bottles

October 26, 2017 by  
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Americans consume 8.6 billion water bottles — every year. Of those, only 1 of 5 is recycled . Fortunately, a handful of MIT students have developed a solution to this problem, and it involves repurposing waste plastic bottles to reinforce concrete. Because the newly-invented method results in the concrete being more durable than existing concrete, plastic bottles may soon be used to construct everything from stronger building foundations to sidewalks and street barriers. According to the study , which was published in the journal Waste Management, MIT students discovered a method to produce concrete that is up to 20 percent stronger than conventional concrete. First, plastic flakes are exposed to small amounts of harmless gamma radiation . Then, they are pulverized into a fine powder, after which it is added to concrete. The discovery has far-reaching implications, as concrete is the second most widely used material on Earth (the first is water). MIT News reports that approximately 4.5 percent of the world’s human-induced carbon emissions are generated by manufacturing concrete. By replacing small portions of concrete with recycled plastic, the cement industry’s toll on the environment would be reduced. The newly-discovered method would also prevent millions of water and soda bottles from ending up in landfills . Michael Short, an assistant professor in MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, said, “There is a huge amount of plastic that is landfilled every year. Our technology takes plastic out of the landfill, locks it up in concrete, and also uses less cement to make the concrete, which makes fewer carbon dioxide emissions. This has the potential to pull plastic landfill waste out of the landfill and into buildings, where it could actually help to make them stronger.” Related: MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months MIT students Carolyn Schaefer and Michael Ortega explored the possibility of plastic-reinforced concrete as part of their class’s Nuclear Systems Design Project. In the future, the team intends to experiment with different types of plastic , along with various doses of gamma radiation, to determine their effects on concrete. So far, they’ve determined that substituting 1.5 percent of concrete with irradiated plastic significantly improves the mixture’s strength. While this may not seem like a lot, it is enough to have a significant impact if implemented on a global scale. “Concrete produces about 4.5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions,” said Short. “Take out 1.5 percent of that, and you’re already talking about 0.0675 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. That’s a huge amount of greenhouse gases in one fell swoop.”’’ Via MIT News Images via MIT , Pixabay

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MIT students develop method to reinforce concrete using plastic bottles

These hurricane-proof floating homes are packed with green features

October 26, 2017 by  
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These solar-powered, zero-emission floating homes are packed with green goodness. Designed by Dutch architect Koen Olthius in collaboration with Arkup , an “avant-garde life on water” company based in Miami, the livable yachts operate 100% off the grid and feature waste management, rainwater harvesting and water purification systems. The 4,350-square-foot homes are equipped with 30 kW of solar panels , 1,000 kWh of lithium-ion batteries and high-grade insulation. They are also extremely safe and, thanks to the inclusion of self-elevating systems, they can withstand high winds, floods and hurricanes. Related: Koen Olthuis of WaterStudio.nl talks about design for a Water World The 40-foot-long hydraulic legs can stabilize the floating homes or even lift them out of the water. If you want to relocate, two 136 horsepower electric thrusters can move the structure at 7 knots. Rainwater is collected from the roof, stored in the hull, and purified to ensure complete water autonomy. The 24×12 foot sliding terrace adds plenty of integrated outdoor space and is surrounded by shock-resistant glass panels, while a smart communications system (including satellite TV and WI-FI antennas, LTE and VHF) allows you to stay connected at all times. + Arkup + Waterstudio

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These hurricane-proof floating homes are packed with green features

Shocking Caribbean photos reveal a "sea of plastic and Styrofoam"

October 26, 2017 by  
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We hear about the issue of ocean plastic a lot, but new photographs visually demonstrate just how pervasive the pollution is. Roatán-based photographer Caroline Power shared pictures on Facebook taken near the Caribbean island belonging to Honduras, revealing what she calls a “sea of plastic and Styrofoam”. Power said, “This has to stop.” Power shared photographs of waves of plastic garbage floating in seaweed in a part of the world we tend to think of as pristine. Pressure group Blue Planet Society said the trash could have come from the Montagua River in Guatemala. Related: Could France-sized ocean garbage patch become 196th nation? Power seems to have posted in hopes of prompting people to think about their own consumption of single-use plastic. She wrote in the Facebook post, “Think about your daily lives. How did you take your food to go last time you ate out? How was your last street food served? Chances are it was styrofoam and served with a plastic fork and then put in a plastic bag. Do you still use plastic garbage bags? Plastic soda bottles? Ziplock bags? Plastic wrap on your food? Do you buy toilet paper that comes wrapped in plastic instead of paper? Do you put your fruit and veggies in produce bags at the grocery?” Power challenged people and businesses to keep their garbage, after sorting out organic and recyclable trash, for a week. She said, “You will be disgusted by how many single-use items you use.” Every single year, eight million metric tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans . Plastic pollution isn’t just an eyesore; The Independent quoted statistics saying it’s harming over 600 species around the world. Around 100,000 marine animals and more than one million birds perish because of plastic every year. Surely we can do better? Via Caroline Power and The Independent Images via Caroline Power on Facebook

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Shocking Caribbean photos reveal a "sea of plastic and Styrofoam"

This company wants to turn food waste into building materials heres how

October 20, 2017 by  
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What do peanuts, rice, bananas, potatoes, and mushrooms have in common? In addition to being delicious, they could be transformed into building materials. In a report entitled The Urban Bio-Loop , the Arup group proposes to use food waste (something developed nations have an abundance of) to develop low-cost and eco-friendly materials for use in construction. The authors of the report aim to demonstrate ‘that a different paradigm for materials in construction is possible.” Because first-world nations, such as the United States , waste up to 40 percent of all food , the goal is to turn the waste into a resource for the creation of “construction, engineering, and architecture products,” reports Archinect . This could be done by modifying the traditional waste management system. Discarded organic materials that could prove useful include peanut shells, which could be used to create low-cost partition boards that are resistant to fire and ice; rice , which could be turned into ash and mixed with cement to eliminate the need for fillers; bananas, a fruit whose leaves can make rugged textiles as a result of high-strength fibers; mushrooms, which can be used to grow buildings ; and potato peels, which can be cleaned, pressed and dried to produce a light, fire-resistant and water-repellent insulating material. The group argues that using food waste for building would contribute to a circular economy where organic waste is put to use, rather than tossed into landfills . Repurposing food waste would also reduce the amount of methane that is produced when fruit and vegetable scraps slowly decompose. The gas contributes to global warming , a phenomenon which results in warming temperatures, rising sea levels, and worsening natural disasters. Related: The free grocery store fighting food waste and hunger Arup’s goal is to ameliorate rising levels of waste and a shortage of raw material. Using the low-cost, low-carbon materials would go a long way towards this goal. + “ The Urban Bio-Loop” Via Archinect Images via Wikipedia , Arup Group

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This company wants to turn food waste into building materials heres how

Plastic-eating caterpillar could revolutionize waste treatment

April 25, 2017 by  
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The answer to our global plastic catastrophe may be in sight. Spanish researchers have discovered that the wax worm, a caterpillar known for munching on the wax within beehives, is able to devour and biodegrade polyethylene plastic, converting it into a form of alcohol found in antifreeze. Federica Bertocchini, a scientist at the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria, first uncovered the worm’s unique abilities by chance, when she attempted to clean up a wax worm infestation in one of her home beehives . She placed the worms in a plastic bag, tied it off, and left it in her house – only to find that the worms had chewed through the plastic and escaped. In a new paper published in Current Biology , she describes how 100 of the worms can chew through an ordinary polyethylene shopping bag in 40 minutes. At first, Bertocchini and her colleagues assumed the worms might be simply chewing through the plastic and shredding it. But then they took slightly nauseating step of pureeing the worms and leaving the resulting paste in contact with the plastic itself. Related: Scientists develop way to efficiently degrade plastics into diesel fuel The results were bizarre – after 14 hours in contact with the worm paste, 13 percent of the plastic had dissolved and degraded into ethylene glycol, the main component in antifreeze. Rather than simply shredding the plastic with their mouths, this showed that some compound in the worms’ digestive systems is actually breaking down and digesting the material. There have been attempts to degrade plastic before using fungus and bacteria, but none of these experiments have yielded results within a matter of hours. This finding could revolutionize the way that we currently manage waste. At the moment, landfills around the globe are packed with polyethylene shopping bags , which take between 100-400 years to degrade naturally. If researchers can isolate the enzyme the wax worms use to digest it, they could potentially treat the plastic in landfills with the substance to help it break down faster. Via Daily Mail Images via Pixabay and the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria

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