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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Plastic-eating caterpillar could revolutionize waste treatment

India’s capital of Delhi just banned plastic disposables

January 23, 2017 by  
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While balls dropped, glasses clinked, and fireworks lit up the sky on January 1, India rang in the new year with a death knell for single-use plastic. To ease growing pollution in the capital of Delhi, the National Green Tribunal has not only banned plastic disposables in the territory, but it’s also directing Delhi authorities to take “immediate steps” to reduce waste in the three main dumping sites of Okhla, Gazipur, and Bhalswa, which residents allege use illegal mass-burning technology that creates air pollution. “Each of these sites is a depiction of mess that can be created for environment and health of people of Delhi,” Swatanter Kumar, who chairs the tribunal, said in a statement. The National Green Tribunal had earlier chastened the Delhi government for its “laxity” over the rising frequency of smog so thick and acrid it sears eyes and burns throats. Plants that fail to comply with prescriptions laid out by the Air Prevention and Control of Pollution Act and Solid Waste Management Rules will face fines of 500,000 rupees—or $7,346 in American dollars—per incident, Kumar said. Related: California officially becomes the first state to ban plastic bags Similarly, Delhi’s vegetable vendors and slaughter houses that throw garbage in public places will have to cough up 10,000 rupees ($147) in reparative costs. Delhi residents have hailed the changes as both necessary and long overdue. “This is a brilliant move,” Priyanshu Sharma, who studies hotel management, told the Hindustani Times . “There are dumps around our house and sometimes they do not get cleaned for days. People also have to learn not to litter. A cleaner Delhi will always be a better Delhi.” Others expressed a mix of optimism and caution. “We have been trying to keep our city clean through various programs and it’s great that others will join in too in their own little ways because of this ban,” said Priyadarshini Valecha, who owns a waste-management company in Gurgaon. “Putting a fine is an effective way of reducing waste. But, only time will tell how successful this would be. I wish it the best!” Via TreeHugger Photos by Julian Stallabrass and Tawheed Manzoor

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India’s capital of Delhi just banned plastic disposables

Tesla just introduced the world’s longest range electric car

January 23, 2017 by  
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Tesla just made electric vehicle (EV) history, but you’d be forgiven if you didn’t know. With nary an announcement or social media post, the company surreptitiously introduced the Model S 100D, which boasts an impressive, record-breaking EPA-estimated range of 335 miles. Like the S 90D, the S 100D has a top speed of 155 miles per hour, and can reach 60 miles per hour from zero in a mere 2.4 seconds. If you’re looking for an EV that can prowl the roads for a long time on a single charge, the Tesla Model S 100D is now the car to beat. Compared against the Model S P100D, the S 100D can drive 20 miles further on one charge, and while it takes longer to accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour (the S P100D can accomplish the feat in 2.5 seconds), the S 100D costs around $30,000 less than the P100D and includes the same 100 kWh battery pack . Related: Check out this adorable $500 electric Tesla Model S just for kids (sorry adults) Surprisingly, Tesla rolled out the exciting new option with little pomp, instead quietly adding an update to their online design studio . The new S 100D starts at $95,000, which is only about $3,000 more than the 90D. Given its extra range of 41 miles more than the 90D, some people may think an extra $3,000 is quite a bargain. Aside from the different battery packs – the 90D has the 90 kWh battery pack – both cars have identical standard equipment. As of December 2016, such equipment includes “collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking,” according to the design studio website. Electrek points out the carmaker has never before offered as many options as they provide now. With the affordable new S 100D, Tesla could see a boost in sales, as many new buyers may opt for the longest range they can get. Via Autoblog and Electrek Images via Tesla and Tesla Facebook

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Tesla just introduced the world’s longest range electric car

Moscows Urban Farm teaches kids how to grow their own food

January 23, 2017 by  
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City living often removes people from nature and from where their food comes from, but an initiative in Moscow proves that doesn’t need to be the norm. Russian architecture firm Wowhaus recently completed Urban Farm, a development in Moscow’s VDNKh park that reconnects children with nature by teaching them how to grow their own food and how to cook meals. The farm in the city is the first of its kind in Moscow and covers a variety of agricultural activities from raising livestock to tending vegetable gardens. Located next to the Kamenskiye Ponds, the three-hectare Urban Farm comprises a series of open-air and covered areas built mainly of timber based on wooden house archetypes such as double-pitched roofs. The development is made up of three main educational areas: the livestock zone that includes a barn with chicken coops and pasture for the nearly 60 animals on site including goats, sheep, cows, and more; the workshops zone; and the crop zone that includes greenhouses , orchard, and vegetable garden. The Urban Farm is also home to a restaurant that includes a small cooking school for kids, a kiosk and picnic area, a library, children’s play area, and children’s fishing zone. Children are not only allowed to interact with animals, but are also encouraged to take care of them by preparing their food or directly feeding them. Staff teach children how to further care for the livestock and the economics and management of farming such as balancing a farm budget and making financial decisions. An on-site veterinarian makes sure all animals are well taken care of. Workshops housed in the beautiful arched buildings offer classes on pottery, woodworking, and other artistic pursuits. The greenhouses, clad in a pineapple-like facade, include hydroponic farming for herbs and vegetables, soil-based farming for flowers, and a nursery for more exotic plants. Related: Studio Gang’s Chicago farm school will teach kids how to grow their own organic food “The main objective of the project is to educate,” says a statement on VDNHk’s website . “Live exhibition is aimed primarily at children, but, as the experience shows not only kids, but also adults are happy to come here. All year round there will be held master classes, lectures, thematic presentations of plants and animals, as well as different recreational activities.” + Wowhaus Images via Wowhaus , VDNH

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Moscows Urban Farm teaches kids how to grow their own food

Is Michigan’s Ban on Plastic Bag Bans Bad News for Waterways?

January 12, 2017 by  
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In 2016, a wave of plastic bag bans took effect across the country. In New York City, the city council approved a 5-cent fee, and the Massachusetts State Senate approved a 10-cent fee for paper bags and a ban on plastic bags. In California, voters…

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Is Michigan’s Ban on Plastic Bag Bans Bad News for Waterways?

Michigan just made it illegal for cities to ban plastic bags

January 2, 2017 by  
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Michigan just passed a new law that prohibits local governments from banning, regulating, or taxing the use of plastic bags and other containers. That’s right: it’s a statewide ban on banning plastic bags . The law was likely aimed at shutting down a local ordinance in Ann Arbor’s Washtenaw County, which would have instituted a 10 cent fee on grocery store bags. Plastic bag bans, of course, are intended to help keep pollution out of the environment. The flimsy plastic bags used in many grocery stores are not biodegradable and tend to find their way into waterways and the ocean, where they break down into smaller pieces that poison fish, seabirds, and marine animals. Even worse, they can take hundreds of years to break down in the environment – or even longer in a landfill . Related: Morocco just officially banned plastic bags Given the environmental impact, what possible reason could Michigan have for shutting down plastic bag bans within the state? In a word: money. Businesses complain that bans or taxes on bags are simply too high a burden for their everyday operations. Michigan isn’t the only state to have taken this approach, either: Idaho, Arizona, and Missouri have all enacted similar laws in recent years. Hopefully, as plastic bag bans become more common, it will become clear that industry claims about the cost and complexity of implementing the bans simply aren’t true. So far in the US, plastic bags have already been banned throughout California and in cities including Portland, Seattle, Austin, and Chicago. If these major cities and the country’s largest state can adapt to paper and reusable bags, surely Michigan could do so as well. Via The Washington Post Images via Randy Wick and Eric

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Michigan just made it illegal for cities to ban plastic bags

Video: Why Plastic Bags Can’t Go with the Regular Recycling

December 22, 2016 by  
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Lots of people have good intentions when they throw their plastic bags into their regular recycling bin, or bundle up a group of recyclables in a bag to toss in a recycling dumpster. The problem with that? Plastic bags don’t play nice with…

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Video: Why Plastic Bags Can’t Go with the Regular Recycling

Yes, Plastic Bag Recycling Is Possible — What You Need To Know

August 9, 2016 by  
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As plastic bags continue to get banned across the nation and world — San Diego is the latest major U.S. city to ban plastic bags — they’ve started to feel like public enemy no. 1. They’re known for ending up in oceans, looking unsightly in tree…

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Yes, Plastic Bag Recycling Is Possible — What You Need To Know

Morocco just officially banned plastic bags

July 27, 2016 by  
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When it comes to plastic bag consumption, Morocco is second only to the United States – but that’s set to change as the nation just officially banned plastic bags . A new bill enacted by Morocco’s parliament bans importing, selling, distributing, and producing plastic bags – but some worry it could take years for people adhere to the law. Morocco’s 34 million residents use three billion plastic bags every year, according to the Moroccan Industry Ministry. The country banned black plastic bags in 2009, however the motion was only partially successful as authorities had a hard time stopping “informal production.” Related: Scotland bans plastic bags, spares landfill 650 million bags in just one year Mamoun Ghallab, founder of Moroccan sustainable development group MakeSense , told Al Jazeera “They do it to promote the image of Morocco as an environmentally friendly country, which is partly true, but not completely… If citizens are not aware of the concerns and the challenges we’re facing, things will go much slower. Everything begins and ends with the citizens.” While Morocco is sometimes seen as a green country because of its focus on clean energy – the nation has built a massive solar plant and plans to reduce subsidies for fossil fuel companies – other sectors of the country aren’t so green. Waste is one issue; the World Bank said Morocco disposes of just 10 percent of waste in an “environmentally and socially acceptable manner.” Yassine Zegzouti, president of Moroccan advocacy group Association Mawarid , told Al Jazeera the government has made efforts to enforce the ban – including investing money in educational TV spots – but that the “formal sector” would likely need four or five years to adhere to the law. Industry Minister of Morocco Moulay Hafid Elalamy stated via Twitter there would be “several alternative solutions” to plastic bags, like fabric and paper bags. Via Al Jazeera Images via Zainub Razvi on Flickr and Esin Üstün on Flickr

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How two amazing teenage girls convinced Bali to ban plastic bags

March 16, 2016 by  
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Two teenage sisters have taken a stand against pollution in Bali – and they’ve convinced the government to ban plastic bags by the year 2018. The island suffers from a crushing plastic pollution problem, so Isabel and Melati Wijsen decided to take action and start Bye Bye Plastic Bags to mobilize other kids and adults to work toward a cleaner Bali. To achieve the goal, the girls have organized beach clean-ups, put on a fashion show, given a TED talk, gone on a hunger strike, and met with the UN Secretary General. Read the rest of How two amazing teenage girls convinced Bali to ban plastic bags

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