Diapers, sanitary products could provide alternative fuel source

March 20, 2017 by  
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A waste-management company has developed a new, patented process that turns sanitary products, baby diapers, incontinence pads, and other so-called “absorbent hygiene products” into power. PHS Group , which serves 90,000 households, schools, offices, and retirement homes across the United Kingdom and Ireland, says that it handles about 45,000 tons of the stuff a year. A plant in the Midlands is currently converting 15 percent of that waste into compressed bales that can be burned to provide fuel for power stations. Refuse-derived fuel is neither an untested concept in Europe, where the practice is par for the course, nor in the U.K., where it’s gaining ground. But diapers, tampons, and their ilk have proved trickier because their dampness makes incineration most costly. But neither is dumping them in the landfill, where they’ll take decades to degrade, a sustainable solution. “Hygiene products are an essential part of many of our everyday lives but disposing of them has always been an issue,” Justin Tydeman, CEO of the PHS Group, told Guardian . PHS Group’s system, which is being evaluated by the University of Birmingham for its effectiveness, not to mention its impact on the environment, sounds simple in principle. Related: How Sweden diverts 99 percent of its waste from the landfill The company begins by shredding and squeezing the material, then disposing of any waste liquid as sewage. The remaining dry material is packed into bales, ripe for tossing into the fire. “Whether or not it turns out to be a major source of energy in itself, the key thing is we find a good way to handle what is a complex and growing waste stream,” Tydeman said. “We don’t want this stuff just going into the ground.” An aging population makes PHS Group’s tack even more vital than ever, Tydeman added. “The great thing about life today is people are living longer, but what comes with that is often incontinence issues,” he said. We want this to be a growing issue, because we want people to live longer.” Via the Guardian Photos by Unsplash , Pixabay

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Diapers, sanitary products could provide alternative fuel source

Piecing together the shattered economics of glass recycling

March 7, 2017 by  
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Municipal recyclers say there is no demand for recycled glass. Glass processing companies say they can’t get enough.

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Piecing together the shattered economics of glass recycling

Set a transformative climate goal — or risk being transformed

March 7, 2017 by  
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Science-based targets are rapidly becoming the standard for corporate sustainability commitments. Will your company’s climate goals clear the bar?

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Set a transformative climate goal — or risk being transformed

2017 Pritzker Prize goes to Catalan firm RCR Arquitectes

March 1, 2017 by  
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Architecture’s most distinguished award just went to a relatively unknown firm from Catalonia. The Pritzker Prize recipients Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta from RCR Arquitectes have completed few projects outside of northeast Spain , but their elegant work emphasizing the environment has gained global attention. The trio started their firm in Olot, Catalonia in 1988. They’ve designed projects as diverse as an athletics track to a kindergarten. Pritzker jury chair Glenn Murcutt, an Australian architect, said of RCR Arquitectes, “They’ve demonstrated that unity of a material can lend such incredible strength and simplicity to a building. The collaboration of these three architects produces uncompromising architecture of a poetic level, representing timeless work that reflects great respect for the past, while projecting clarity that is of the present and future.” Related: 2016 Pritzker Prize awarded to Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena The firm emphasizes structures that will last. They eschew trends in favor of well-done construction. They’re known for taking care to fit structures in beautifully with surrounding nature. They sometimes will design custom furniture for the buildings, finding it hard to find other furniture that fits their vision. There are even rumors they ask clients to sign contracts saying they won’t change the buildings since they constructed so precisely. Many of RCR Arquitectes’ projects can be found in Catalonia, although they have also designed a museum and art center in France. Recycled steel or plastic are often among the building materials they utilize. Their Tossols-Basil Athletics Track in Girona, Spain winds through oak forest clearings, deftly avoiding trees, and is green to match the natural surroundings. A sloped pathway takes visitors down to their Bell-Lloc Winery, also in Girona, beneath a roof of recycled steel. The dark interior, broken up by light streaming through slots in the roof, provides visitors with a new perspective on winemaking. Their El Petit Comte Kindergarten lacks conventional walls; instead, colorful plastic tubes let light filter playfully through. Some are solid and others can be turned, allowing children to interact and play with the building itself. Even RCR Arquitectes’ office provides a glimpse into their unique design. They converted an old 20th century foundry, preserving older features of the building like crumbling walls while adding massive glass windows to flood the space with natural light. + RCR Arquitectes + Pritzker Prize Via Dezeen and The Guardian Images via Pritzker

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2017 Pritzker Prize goes to Catalan firm RCR Arquitectes

Repurposed shipping containers make a bold statement at the National Theater Company of Korea

March 1, 2017 by  
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Seoul’s trendy mall made of shipping containers isn’t the only place you’ll see cargotecture in the city. Urbantainer , the same local firm behind the world’s largest cargotecture mall Common Ground , recently completed an extension for the National Theater Company of Korea , one of the nation’s flagship theater companies based in the capital. The new visitor area comprises a series of red shipping containers skillfully transformed into a contemporary and functional space that still preserves an industrial character. The National Theater Company of Korea (NTCK) commissioned Urbantainer to create a visitor area that would serve as a social space within the grounds. To integrate the new space with the existing buildings, the designers aligned the containers with the building axis and painted them the same shade of red as the NTCK logo. “While highlighting the modular form of containers, the design is deliberately held light and maintains a balance with existing features and objects such as a former oil station and the grass square,” writes Urbantainer. Related: World’s largest shipping container shopping mall pops up in Seoul Although the cargotecture building looks like it’s made up of separate containers stacked together, many of the container walls were removed to create an interior with a 12-meter-long column-less space to accommodate large gatherings. High ceilings, access to natural light, and the light color palette give the interior a spacious and open feel. The flexible open-plan area can be manipulated with partitions and moving walls to allow for a variety of functions. + Urbantainer Images © Kyungsub Shin

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Repurposed shipping containers make a bold statement at the National Theater Company of Korea

Rusty shovel heads transformed into delicate lace-inspired sculptures

February 27, 2017 by  
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Artist Denise Bizot has a gift for breathing new life into an unexpected medium—rusted shovel heads. The New Orleans-based artist retrieves discarded shovel heads from salvage yards and carves beautifully intricate lace-inspired designs into the rusted surfaces. She typically keeps the oxidized patina intact for the visual contrast between the weathered object and the delicate new designs. Formerly a drafter in the petroleum industry, Bizot returned to Loyola New Orleans to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus on sculpture. Her interest in found objects , particularly metals, sparked her metalworking craft and love of transforming discarded junk and debris found in New Orleans into beautiful sculptures. In addition to her reworked shovel heads and other sculptures, Bizot also creates more functional pieces such as metal room dividers and handmade tables. Related: Artist sculpts lifelike grizzly bear from recycled cardboard “Like many cities undergoing gentrification , New Orleans is replete with discarded metal, miscellaneous street junk and salvage yards teeming with all sorts of debris,” writes Bizot. “For me, the idea of reclaiming, deconstructing and transforming “so-called junk” into works of sculpture is fascinating.” + Denise Bizot

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Rusty shovel heads transformed into delicate lace-inspired sculptures

Rios $800 million Olympic Park sits nearly abandoned after 2016 games

February 23, 2017 by  
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Last year, during the 2016 Summer Games , it would have been hard to imagine the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro sitting empty in the hot Brazilian sun. Sadly, this is what has become of the space today. Despite having been officially reopened in January as a public recreation area, the park is treated to only a few visitors and a longstanding bad reputation. The $800 million Olympic Park was constructed in the months prior to last year’s Summer Games in a process that displaced residents and enraged others. Clare Richardson of Vice visited residents of the old Vila Autódromo favela, a community that was forced to move, later granted new public housing in the area. The city’s promises have fallen short of the agreed upon vision of building playgrounds, a court for sports, and a community center, leaving people with plain housing in an asphalt jungle. Residents have even resorted to creating their own speed bumps out of stones and trash cans to keep nearby roads safe. Related: Japan wants to make 2020 Olympic medals from recycled smartphones Visitors to the area feel shortchanged, as well. Vital services that were available during the park’s grand opening event, such as running water and electricity, are no longer available. The typical two-hour journey from the center of the city greets commuters with a sad skatepark , playground, and the ghostly spectacles of towering arenas. Bigger events, like the Rock in Rio music festival, are planned, but the park has become an inconvenient eyesore for the rest of the year. “I’ve seen about 12 people here since I arrived five hours ago,” Vinicius Martini, a beer vendor at the park, told Vice. “And I haven’t sold any beer.” Via Vice Images via Clare Robinson

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Rios $800 million Olympic Park sits nearly abandoned after 2016 games

Artists recycle hundreds of plastic bottles into a dynamic arch in Chiang Mai

February 16, 2017 by  
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Plastic trash is a major problem in Thailand’s beautiful Chiang Mai , but a team of designers has found a way to creatively rethink waste in a positive light. Design collectives VINN PATARARIN and FAHPAV combined handcrafted design with 3D modeling to create Self-Ornamentalize, a temporary installation made from 850 recycled plastic bottles. The experimental pavilion was installed a part of Compeung, an artist-in-residence program hosted at Chiang Mai’s suburban village of DoiSakt. The multidisciplinary team of designers developed Self-Ornamentalize through their discovery that the traditions of local craftsmanship and use of natural materials were fading as the village modernized. Given the proliferation of plastic, the designers saw plastic as the “true local materials of this present day.” Thus, the designers chose plastic bottles as their primary building material. Related: Bottle Seedling House turns bamboo and plastic bottles into shelter for Vietnamese farmers The plastic bottles were broken down by hand to create a textile -like material. The designers used computer modeling to generate the installation’s curved form that measured nine by four meters in size. Self-Ornamentalize was installed on an elevated walkway in the large lake, a major landmark in the village, to maximize visibility. The designers write: “‘Self-Ornamentalize’ is an experiment in totally transformed the unawareness of locals’ identity through technology, materials and craftsmanship towards the wonder of self-discovery in post-modern era.” + VINN PATARARIN

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Artists recycle hundreds of plastic bottles into a dynamic arch in Chiang Mai

British supermarket chain launches trucks powered by food waste

February 13, 2017 by  
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Food waste has always been something of a bugbear with Waitrose , an upscale British grocer that stopped shoveling its leftovers into the landfill as early as 2012. It even packages some of its fusilli pasta in boxes made, in part, from recycled food scraps, which it says reduces the use of virgin tree pulp by 15 percent while lowering greenhouse-gas emissions by a fifth. But Waitrose wants to take the issue further, both literally and figuratively. The supermarket just announced that it’ll be running its delivery trucks entirely on biomethane gas generated from food waste—making it the first company in Europe to do so. Food waste is a looming concern in the United Kingdom. At a time when 8.4 million U.K. families struggle to feed themselves daily, the volume of household food waste continues to soar, amounting to an estimated 7.3 million metric tons in 2015. Waitrose, according to the Times , is partnering with CNG Fuels to juice up 10 of its trucks with 100 percent renewable biomethane. The trucks can run up to 500 miles—almost twice the current average—on what is essentially rotting food. “We will be able to make deliveries to our stores without having to refuel away from base,” Justin Laney of the John Lewis Partnership , which operates Waitrose, said in a statement on Thursday. Related: Toronto Rolls Out Biogas-Capable Garbage Trucks Because its biomethane costs 40 percent less than diesel, any upgrades will pay for themselves in two to three years, CNG Fuels said. “Renewable biomethane is far cheaper and cleaner than diesel, and, with a range of up to 500 miles, it is a game-changer for road transport operators,” CNG Fuels CEO Philip Fjeld said. Another plus? The alternative fuel emits 70 percent less carbon dioxide, which would give a much needed boost to the European Union’s pledge to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 under the Paris Climate Agreement . + Waitrose Via Grubstreet

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British supermarket chain launches trucks powered by food waste

This powerful video sheds light on 5 things about plastic you might not know

February 12, 2017 by  
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[youtube =http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E98-aHrkeaA] This powerful video, titled ” 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Plastic “, uses a Rube Goldberg machine to follow the journey a plastic bottle takes from “factory to home” to shed light on the unintended consequences plastic waste has on our environment, and what we can do to eliminate waste, and save money. For example, did you know that 8 percent of all oil extracted from the planet is used to make plastic? Or that 91 percent of plastic never gets recycled? Every piece of plastic ever created still exists in some form… and hopefully this video can shed a bit of light on the planet’s plastic woes , and how they can be addressed. + CleanPath The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing!

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This powerful video sheds light on 5 things about plastic you might not know

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