Why are toothbrushes so hard to recycle?

May 28, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Even the remotest islands have no lack of used toothbrushes. Researchers studying  Cocos Keeling Islands  — 6 square miles of uninhabited land 1,300 miles off  Australia’s  northwest coast — found 373,000 toothbrushes among the mountains of plastic debris. Reading studies like this makes almost any thinking person wonder why we can’t recycle toothbrushes. Toothbrushes pose a problem, as no matter how much we care about the planet, most of us aren’t going to sacrifice our dental hygiene. So why is it so hard to recycle toothbrushes? Dental professionals and the American Dental Association recommend getting a new toothbrush every three to four months, or when the bristles fray. This means the average American — or at least one that follows dental advice — goes through three to four toothbrushes per year. Even if each American used only two toothbrushes annually, that’s roughly 660 million toothbrushes headed for the  landfill . Why? “Regular toothbrushes are hard to recycle because they are made from many components, including plastics derived from crude  oil , rubber and a mix of plastic and other agents,” explained Dr. Nammy Patel , DDS and author of  Age With Style: Your Guide To A Youthful Smile & Healthy Living.  “It takes the plastic toothbrush over 400 years to decompose.” Usually, the plastic handle would be the most desirable part for recycling. Nobody wants those grotty nylon bristles that spent the last several months poking between your teeth. And it takes a lot of effort to separate the bristles and the metal that keeps them in place from the  plastic handle. The  Colgate Oral Care Recycling Project  is one rare effort to recycle used dental gear. The project accepts toothpaste tubes and caps, toothbrushes, toothpaste cartons, toothbrush outer  packaging  and floss containers. Reusing your old toothbrushes Instead of recycling your toothbrush, it’s easier to find ways to reuse it. Patel suggests using your old toothbrush for coloring hair, cleaning car parts, or anything that can be accessed by the small bristles. “It can be used for cleaning mud under shoes,” she suggested. Toothbrushes are the best tools for cleaning grout on your kitchen counter or between your bathroom tiles. Just add baking soda or bleach. You can also use a dry or just slightly damp toothbrush to clean the sides of your computer  keys. It’s amazingly gross, the stuff that accumulates in a keyboard. Other places to use those tiny bristles to your advantage include cleaning grunge out of your hairbrush, scrubbing around faucets and reviving Velcro by removing the lint. Old toothbrushes even have  artistic  uses. Painters can use them for splattering paint on a canvas, or for adding texture. In another artistic application, toothbrushes are great for scrubbing crayon marks off walls. Sustainable alternatives Of course, the best way to avoid disposing of a non-recyclable item is by not buying it in the first place. “Toothbrushes made from more sustainable products are great,” said Patel. “They offer the same or better clean and are better for the environment.” Bamboo  is the most popular alternative toothbrush handle material. However, most still have nylon bristles. Some companies use compostable pig hair bristles, but this won’t be a happy solution for vegetarians. Still, the handle is the biggest part of the toothbrush, so using a bamboo toothbrush with nylon bristles is still a step in the right direction. Some companies even offer replaceable heads so you can use the same bamboo handle for years. If style is of paramount importance, check out  Bootrybe’s  pretty laser-engraved designs. You could also opt for a toothbrush that’s already been recycled. Since 2007,  Preserve  has recycled more than 80 million yogurt cups into toothbrushes. They partner with Whole Foods to get people to recycle #5 plastics, which is one of the safer yet least recycled types of plastic . And when your Preserve toothbrush gets old, you can mail it back to the company for recycling. Or ditch the plastic and go electric. “Electric toothbrushes are a better alternative than regular toothbrushes,” said Patel. “They give a great clean and they minimize the amount of waste.” She recommends eco-friendly brands like Foreo Issa and Georganics. “There are some brands like Boka brush which have activated  charcoal in its bristles to help reduce bacteria growth. Many companies also have a recycling program where you can send your toothbrush head and they will recycle it for you.” Better yet, she said, get the electric rechargeable brushes so there is no battery waste. “If you have to purchase a battery-operated one, make sure to use rechargeable batteries to decrease waste.” Some people like to further reduce waste by making their own toothpaste and mouthwash. While homemade toothpaste lacks the cavity-fighting power of fluoride, you might want to occasionally use homemade products to decrease packaging waste and save money, or just to tide you over until your next trip to the store. For a very simple and inexpensive paste, combine one teaspoon of baking soda with a little  water . + Dr. Nammy Patel Via Toothbrush Life Images via Teresa Bergen

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Why are toothbrushes so hard to recycle?

UK residents enjoying record low emissions

May 28, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

By now, almost everybody has heard about record low CO2 emissions brought on by  coronavirus  lockdowns. But new data shows not only that the U.K.’s emissions are the lowest they’ve been since the 1920s, but there’s reason to hope they might not shoot back up to pre-pandemic rates as soon as life returns to quasi-normal. A recent paper published in the scientific journal  Nature Climate Change examined six sectors known for their climate change contributions: electricity  and heat; surface transport; industry; home use; aviation; and public buildings and commerce. They found that surface transport was notably down, partially accounting for why the U.K. cut emissions by 31% during lockdown, compared to a global average of 17%.  “A lot of emissions in the UK come from surface transport – around 30% on average of the country’s total  emissions ,” said Professor Corinne Le Quéré, the paper’s lead author. “It makes up a bigger contribution to total emissions than the average worldwide.” Since the U.K. reached full lockdown, Quéré said, people were forced to stay home and not to drive to work. Mike Childs, Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, reminds us that our problems are far from over. “A 31% emissions drop in April is dramatic, but in the long run it won’t mean anything unless some reductions are made permanent,” Childs told HuffPost UK. “This lockdown moment is a chance to reset our carbon-guzzling economy and rebuild in a way that leaves pollution in the past, to stop climate-wrecking emissions spiking right back up to where they were before, or even higher.” Fortunately, British drivers appreciate the cleaner air and plan to permanently alter their driving style, according to a survey. In the Automobile Association’s poll of 20,000 motorists, half plan to walk more post- pandemic , and 40% aim to drive less. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they planned to work from home more, 25% intend to fly less and 20% to cycle more. The U.K. government plans to spend £250 million on improved infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. “We have all enjoyed the benefits of cleaner air during lockdown and it is gratifying that the vast majority of drivers want to do their bit to maintain the cleaner air,” said Edmund King, Automobile Association president. “ Walking  and cycling more, coupled with less driving and more working from home, could have a significant effect on both reducing congestion and maintaining cleaner air.” + Nature Climate Change Via HuffPost and BBC

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UK residents enjoying record low emissions

How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair

May 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair Elsa Wenzel Wed, 05/27/2020 – 02:00 Doing away with a culture of disposability is one of the big dreams of the circular economy. A jolt in this direction came overnight as COVID-19 drove people indoors, forcing many to rethink how they reduce, reuse or recycle items they took for granted only weeks earlier. As U.S. unemployment claims soared to 30 million, buying non-essentials became an act of either audacity or foolishness. Even window shopping has been confined to a web browser. People have been making every can of beans and square of toilet paper last. “Like it or not, the coronavirus is changing the rules of consumption,” said GreenBiz Editorial Director Heather Clancy during the Circularity Digital virtual event last week. “Millions of consumers are putting off retail purchases and looking at the stuff in their closets and cabinets and desktops in a very different way. Why should this item be thrown away when it could be repaired or refreshed and for that matter, how long should I expect these things to last?” However, most brands are in the business of selling something new, so circular economy efforts generally have tended to put repair at the bottom of the menu. Will this pandemic create a lasting change in priorities for business and end users alike? There’s no surefire answer for now, but some of the people thinking the hardest about what all of this means are those who work in product design. Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation at Levi Strauss & Co., works hands-on with denim, zippers and buttons. Being stuck at home lately has been tough. There’s got to be a better design solution to address end of life, how [products] can easily be refurbished, upcycled and disassembled. “It’s called on all of my home [economics] skills, all of my ability to prototype and ideate using just the materials around my house, which has been a really exciting exercise,” Dillinger said. “It has challenged me to remember a lot of the skill set we don’t often call upon to make from nothing, to repair the broken things around us.” Embracing imperfections and repairs is part of his vision for a pair of jeans to be loved and worn for a decade until ultimately being recycled. Levi’s heritage, after all, began with durable canvas work pants worn by miners around the California gold rush. “Everyone’s favorite jean has a repair in it, a stain they don’t mind,” he said. “That mustard was a great ballgame. The story of our lives [is] written in our jeans. People will resonate with that far more than with a disposable, unrepairable, unresolvable product.” With that mindset, Dillinger led the design of Levi’s innovative Wellthread shirts, jackets and jeans, which launched in 2015. The company rebuilt blue jeans for recyclability, also slashing the use of water and being mindful of workers’ well-being. A Wellthread denim jacket in the line, for example, uses four technologies to incorporate recovered, chemically recycled and mechanically recycled cotton in the buttons, exterior denim and lining. The end result is 100 percent cellulosic material, the type of single, “clean” input that’s easiest for a recycling system to handle, which is why simple glass bottles, aluminum cans and newspapers have such a long recycling track record. Wellthread jeans contrast with others that are labeled as cotton but actually use blended materials, including polyester, throughout. If it were up to Dillinger, the industry would be a blank page for design. But reality has a lot of stuff in it already — most of it barely used or valued. Six out of 10 garments are incinerated within a year of production, according to McKinsey research. That means important and scarce natural resources are ruthlessly consumed and discarded, like the more than 3,700 liters of water needed to produce a pair of jeans. It feels like we’ve moved to this throwaway society. I hope we’re moving in the other direction. Fast fashion and high-performance fabrics have compounded waste by accelerating the output of apparel that’s virtually impossible to recycle. Take, for example, a blend of wool, viscose, polyamide and cashmere in a scarf or sweater. “You would need a solvent for one, a mechanical process for another, heat for another,” Dillinger said. The problem is shared across industries, including in electronics, which make up the world’s fastest-growing waste stream. Only 20 percent of e-waste is recycled, according to a United Nations University report in 2017 . The fate of the rest is mostly unknown, probably either landfilled, reused or recycled informally. For Ed Boyd, an inside look at a recycling plant was a wake-up call. The senior vice president of Dell’s Experience Design Group recently visited a new Wistron electronics recycling plant in Dallas, one of the largest in North America. A typical notebook computer includes more than 200 ingredients, only a handful of which can be processed by such a facility. The rest get separated and sent around the planet for handling. “I’ve been involved in recycling materials for a long time, but seeing it firsthand in that kind of environment was kind of daunting,” Boyd said. “I was looking at this through a designer’s eyes thinking, I’ve kind of created this problem. There’s got to be a better design solution to address end of life, how [products] can easily be refurbished, upcycled and disassembled. And that has kicked off a lot of exciting work at Dell really aiming at changing that.” Over the past few years, Dell already has been getting more questions from customers about environmental impacts, reflecting a dramatic shift in sentiment that’s pushing electronics makers to rethink their approaches, Boyd said. Dell’s “moonshot goals” for 2030 include three things: for an equivalent product to be reused or recycled for every item bought by a customer; for recycled or renewable materials to make up all its packaging; and for more than half of the materials in its products to be made of recycled or renewable materials. Dell already has plucked some of the low-hanging fruit of closed-loop materials, such as by using reclaimed ocean plastics . In 2011, it introduced the use of mushroom-based cushioning to ship servers. Boyd said the PC maker is exploring with its suppliers how to rethink core product components responsibly, including battery cells, motherboards and displays. It’s also considering biopolymers to prevent waste and solar-powered smelting to reduce manufacturing footprints. And Boyd wants Dell to innovate by creating products that can be assembled and later disassembled quickly, extending life cycles by enabling repeated cycles of reuse or upcycling. That’s been the objective for DIY advocates such as Kyle Wiens, at the forefront of the right to repair movement for more than 15 years. The CEO and co-founder of the iFixit repair website, famous for ticking off Apple, pointed out how the 30 or so metals inside a given cell phone have a low recovery rate, making product reuse more efficient than recycling at this time. “It feels like we’ve moved to this throwaway society,” Wiens said. “I hope we’re moving in the other direction.” iFixit helps 100 million people a year fix things, including one in every five Californians, Wiens said. The company sees eight figures in annual sales of toolkits, switches, spark plugs and other parts, but its repairs database is free. It offers nearly 63,000 crowdsourced manuals and advice for an amazing assortment of products, including cars, garden hoses, jacket zippers and PCs. Some 70,000 people have accessed iFixIt’s instructions for repairing a countertop Starbucks Barista machine. iFixIt also rates products for their accessibility to fixers. A Dell Inspiron laptop that can be opened with a Phillips screwdriver got a 10 out of 10 score, while a Microsoft Surface that needed to be cut open received a score of three. (An upgrade later earned that model’s successor two more points.) Wiens is excited that iFixit is diving into on-demand 3D printing, starting with a component it sells for a coffee maker. He said he’d like to collaborate with companies to create products designed from the outset with components that can be printed in case of a breakdown. “We really think it needs to be a partnership between the repair community and the manufacturer to make it work,” he said. The story of our lives [is] written in our jeans. People will resonate with that far more than with a disposable, unrepairable, unresolvable product. Since the pandemic hemmed most of society into their homes, iFixit has seen a spike in searches for fixing devices, laptops and the Nintendo Switch. Last week, it dove into new territory and activism by publishing 13,000 manuals for medical devices , everything from hospital bed headboards to nebulizers to scales, becoming the world’s largest source of details for medical repairs. The company is hoping this ambitious effort will lighten the workloads of the exhausted biomedical technicians who keep hospital equipment humming and beeping. For better or worse, most appliances rely on human muscle and brainpower for longevity. But information technology is beginning to change some of this.  Boyd is intrigued by the possibility of “self-healing” electronics that reconstitute or repair themselves, made possible by artificial intelligence and machine learning. AI already helps predict when a laptop battery will fail. Also further out, and in Dell’s planning stages, is how to augment and design equipment that improves over the course of a decade or two. Product-as-a-service models could become part of an industry transformation, he said, eliminating the need for companies to keep up revenues by releasing whole new lines of modestly updated electronics every year. “We’re having an interesting moment in technology right now, with the birth of 5G and strong cloud connectivity — we can make products in the future that don’t degrade; they actually get better,” Boyd said. Dillinger, on the other hand, wants to remind people to “get a little analog” and take a stab at sewing a button. iFixit has directions for that, too. Pull Quote There’s got to be a better design solution to address end of life, how [products] can easily be refurbished, upcycled and disassembled. It feels like we’ve moved to this throwaway society. I hope we’re moving in the other direction. The story of our lives [is] written in our jeans. People will resonate with that far more than with a disposable, unrepairable, unresolvable product. Topics Circular Economy Consumer Electronics Circularity 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Automation is only part of the picture. Shutterstock Serggod Close Authorship

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How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair

LEED Platinum-certified Half Moon Bay Library targets net-zero energy

May 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

At three times the size of its predecessor with a recently minted LEED Platinum certification, California’s Half Moon Bay Library is an impressive community resource in more ways than one. Designed by Berkeley-based firm Noll & Tam Architects , the $18.2 million library serves a diverse and growing coastal region that includes Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County and 10 other unincorporated communities along the coast as well. Flexibility, energy efficiency and emphases on nature and the community drove the design of the new regional library that has won multiple awards, including the 2019 AIA/ALA Library Building Award. Completed in 2018, the 22,000-square-foot Half Moon Library minimizes its visual impact with its low-profile massing that includes two single-story rectangular volumes along the street and a larger, second-story volume tucked behind. Minimizing the building’s presence in the neighborhood was part of the architects’ strategy to draw greater attention to views of the ocean, which is located just a short walk away. A low-maintenance natural material palette — including reclaimed wood , patinated copper and rough stone — takes inspiration from the coastal landscape and helps draw the outdoors in. Related: Charles Library boasts one of Pennsylvania’s largest green roofs As a result of extensive community workshops, the Half Moon Library is highly flexible. Three-quarters of the stacks are on wheels so that the layout of the room can be easily changed over time to accommodate a variety of events. In addition to multipurpose spaces, the library also includes a 122-seat community room, adult reading area, children’s area, quiet reading area, teen room, maker space and support areas. Sustainability is at the heart of the project, which is designed to achieve net-zero energy . The high-performance building envelope draws power from rooftop solar panels, while thoughtful site orientation and implementation of passive principles for natural ventilation and lighting reduces energy demand. The Half Moon Library also features bioswales , recycled materials, low-water fixtures, high-performance HVAC systems and drought-tolerant plantings. + Noll & Tam Architects Photography by Anthony Lindsey via Noll & Tam Architects

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LEED Platinum-certified Half Moon Bay Library targets net-zero energy

Heatherwick Studio completes nature-filled EDEN apartments in Singapore

May 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Green

Greenery spills down the sides of EDEN, a nature-filled apartment building completed in late 2019 by British design and architecture firm Heatherwick Studio in the historic Newton district of Singapore. Inspired by Singapore founding father Lee Kuan Yew’s vision of a “city in a garden”, the architects departed from the typical glass-and-steel tower typology with an innovative luxury housing complex surrounded by tropical greenery on all sides. The building’s environmentally friendly features also earned it a Green Mark Award Platinum Rating by the Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority.  Commissioned by Swire Properties, EDEN represents a new and unique way of living in the city with its elevated base — the lowest floor is raised 23 meters above an intensely planted, ground-level, tropical garden to allow for city views from every apartment — natural materials and details and unconventional apartment layouts. Each apartment is centered on an airy, open-plan living space that connects to landscaped, shell-like balconies on three sides and three “wings”. There are two wings to the south with two bedrooms each and a northern wing that contains the kitchen and service areas. Related: Heatherwick Studio breaks ground on undulating plant-covered development in the heart of Tokyo Filled with light and views of greenery and the city skyline, the interiors are dressed in natural materials , including parquet timber floors and stone walls in the bathrooms that are fitted with Heatherwick Studio-designed sinks, vanities and baths. The balconies that are formed around the Y-shaped apartment floor plan feature over 20 species of flora to surround the living spaces with calming greenery and provide natural shading from the sun. The exposed undersides of the balconies were built of smooth, highly polished concrete made with a bespoke casting technique. “Over time, the building is designed to mature, as the lush planting grows, like a sapling that has taken root beneath the streets, pulling the landscape of Singapore up into the sky,” the architects explained. The exterior facade flanking the green balconies is built of concrete molded with an abstracted topographical map of Singapore’s terrain, creating a unique, three-dimensional texture. + Heatherwick Studio Photography by Hufton+Crow via Heatherwick Studio

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Heatherwick Studio completes nature-filled EDEN apartments in Singapore

Designers propose sustainable housing in response to COVID-19 lifestyle changes

May 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

For those lucky enough to keep their jobs during the global pandemic, a large portion have been working from home — a privilege that could become a permanent way of life for many. In response to how COVID-19 continues to reshape our lives, Paris-based architecture firm Studio BELEM has proposed Aula Modula, a conceptual live/work urban housing scheme that emphasizes flexibility, community and sustainability. In addition to providing individual workspaces for work-from-home setups, Aula Modula would also offer plenty of green spaces as a means of bringing nature back to the city. Envisioned for a post- COVID-19 world, Aula Modula combines elements of high-density urban living with greater access to nature. According to Studio BELEM, the concept is an evolution of traditional western architectural and urban planning models that have been unchanged for years and fail to take into account diminishing greenery in cities, rising commute times and the conveniences afforded by the internet. Related: Architects design COVID-19 mobile testing labs for underserved communities “Aula Modula chooses to free itself from the standards and codes of traditional housing,” the architects explained in a project statement. “The Aula Modula brings back a natural environment to the city, promoting new commonly shared spaces and social interactions between its residents.” In addition to providing individual home offices to each apartment, the live/work complex includes communal access to a central courtyard and terraces to promote a sense of community — both social and professional — between residents and workers. The architects propose to construct the development primarily from timber to reduce the project’s carbon footprint. Aula Modula is also envisioned with green roofs irrigated with recycled and treated wastewater, a series of terraced vegetable gardens and a communal greenhouse warmed with recovered thermal energy from the building. The apartments would sit atop a mix of retail and recreational services, such as a grocery store, craft brewery and yoga studio. + Studio Belem Images by Studio Belem

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Designers propose sustainable housing in response to COVID-19 lifestyle changes

Bush Brothers counts on water reuse to reduce local impact of bean production

May 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Bush Brothers counts on water reuse to reduce local impact of bean production Jesse Klein Wed, 05/20/2020 – 03:20 “There was nothing except a pipe going out the back of the plant.” This was how Rodney Aulick, president of integrated solutions and services at Evoqua Water Technologies, described the wastewater system at Bush Brothers and Company’s Tennessee plant, when it first engaged with the food company. Bush Brothers is the largest manufacturer of prepared beans in the United States, and its work with water treatment titan Evoqua resulted in massive improvements, Aulick said. The plant is now able to reuse much of its water, lowering the strain on the community system and environment as a whole. The company is also better equipped to tightly control its water usage, according to Evoqua.   Bush Brothers, a family-owned business, has been operating in the small community of Chestnut Hill, Tennessee, for over 110 years. The company keeps the community in mind when pushing for new production goals and system upgrades. In 2016, Bush Brothers began working with Evoqua to upgrade its wastewater system to reduce its reliance on public water sources and provide its facility with more capacity, flexibility and reliability. The project was completed in the fall of 2019. For companies such as Bush Brothers, investing in technology to improve the sustainability of its business processes is more than just a good PR move — it’s also a measure necessary to ensure plants can keep operating even through increasing periods of climate extremes. Water, specifically, stopped being an afterthought for Bush Brothers after the 2007 drought in Chestnut Hill. This was the wake-up call the executives needed to replace that pipe with something better.  “They wanted to use that precious water that was going out the back end of their plant, back into the front end,” Aulick said.  To do this, Evoqua and Bush Brothers built a wastewater treatment plant near one of its bean canneries at the Chestnut Hill property. According to Will Sarni, CEO of the Water Foundry, a hyperlocal water recycling plant such as this is still a rare project for U.S. businesses. Bush Brothers’ other facility in August, Wisconsin, has a biogas reuse program in place (as does Chestnut Hill) but the Tennessee facility represents the only water reuse system for the company. They wanted to use that precious water that was going out the back end of their plant, back into the front end. “I think in the U.S, it’s really just a few percentage points in terms of the volume of water,” Sarni said. “This is the exception, not the rule.” The Chestnut Hill facility uses a bioreactor to clean the water, which creates biogas for supplemental energy for the factory. Dissolved flotation and reverse osmosis are used to remove particulate matter from the water.  While the water is clean enough to be used in food processing, most of the recycled water is pumped into the heating and cooling systems, as these represent the largest uses of water in the plant, according to Evoqua. Up to 20 percent of the water Bush Brothers uses is from its reuse system. Terry Farris, director of engineering for Bush Brothers, wrote in an email that his company’s goals were to create redundancy while also making sure the new system would have the capability to accommodate additional flows and alternative waste systems in the future. Evoqua’s strategy when it comes to designing the recycle/reuse facility of an operating plant is to be extremely flexible and quickly adjustable, according to Aulick. That’s because what the plant is making on a morning shift can be vastly different from in 12 hours on a second shift, he said. The product being produced, the step in the process or even the season can drastically affect water usage. The waste plant needs to be ready for those changes, Aulick said. Evoqua noted that during harvest season for Bush Brothers, bean loads are large, which leads to an increase in water volume processing. During the canning season, water volume can be lower but the concentration of contaminants is higher, as the manufacturing is focused on adding spices and preservatives.  “You really have to plan a robust technology that can be adjusted for those unique events,” Aulick said. “You need to have a technology that you can adjust on the fly.” Aulick has seen companies such as Bush Brothers start to look 20 or 30 years into the future. Its leaders and engineers are beginning to address the big questions: Can my facility persevere through a drought? If the company can’t rely on the local government, does the plant have an alternative waste management system?  Farris told GreenBiz that the company knew there would be a high capital investment and operating costs to upgrade the wastewater treatment facility. But the ability to create value from a waste stream would offset the expense and the move toward more sustainable practices was worth the investment, he said. Bush Brothers declined to provide the exact cost of the investment. “It used to be that we drove a lot more of these projects through sales,” Aulick said. “We would help to identify the potential and convince [businesses] that it had a return. Today we see more and more customers on their own saying, ‘I have a sustainability goal.’ What we used to have to push for, we are now getting pulled into.” Pull Quote They wanted to use that precious water that was going out the back end of their plant, back into the front end. Topics Food & Agriculture Water Efficiency & Conservation Food & Agriculture Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Bush Brothers installed Evoqua’s wastewater treatment system after experiencing the effects of a local drought in Tennessee.

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Bush Brothers counts on water reuse to reduce local impact of bean production

AB InBev VP: Our quest for ‘agile’ sustainable development continues

May 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

AB InBev VP: Our quest for ‘agile’ sustainable development continues Heather Clancy Tue, 05/19/2020 – 02:37 Like most big companies with a complex multinational footprint, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s sales slipped in the first quarter and the beer maker is embracing new financial discipline amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the company also has  acted quickly to prop up key members of its value chain — from small liquor stores to farmers to  restaurants  — and the situation has galvanized its long-term corporate sustainability plans, according to Ezgi Barcenas, vice president of global sustainability for AB InBev. “We really cannot lose these learnings and agility, and I think that’s been a great learning and contribution of the pandemic — helping us to be more agile and to be more collaborative,” she told GreenBiz during an interview in early May. The beermaker’s 2025 goals pledge bold advances in water strategy, returnable or recyclable packaging, renewable energy procurement (its U.S. division in 2019 signed the  beer industry’s largest power purchase agreement  to date) and support for farmers adopting regenerative agriculture practices. Barcenas, the executive responsible for managing that plan and part of the GreenBiz 2020 Badass Women in Sustainability list , joined the company seven years ago. She’s also in charge of the 100+ Sustainability Accelerator, dedicated to startups that can bring technology-enabled innovation to AB InBev’s operations. Below is a transcript of our interview about how the company’s sustainability team is focusing amid the pandemic. The Q&A was lightly edited for length and clarity. Heather Clancy: How has the pandemic changed the immediate focus of the AB InBev sustainability team? Ezgi Barcenas : I really feel like this global situation is a stress test for sustainable development, compelling all of us to think about it more holistically, more collaboratively, and to be more flexible and continue to work together to create value for our entire value chain.  So, I would say when we think about the changes on the immediate focus of our team, I think it’s important to remember that beer is an actual product, and for centuries we’ve really relied on healthy environments and thriving communities. And most of our operations are local, so our sustainability strategy is really deeply connected to the communities and the business … What it’s doing is, it’s, in fact, galvanizing us and our partners to continue to work together and make really impact where it matters the most.  Clancy: What happens to long-term plans? Are they still going on alongside that? Barcenas: As you can imagine, we had to pivot some of our focus towards short-term mitigation plans but continue to power through towards our mid-to-longer-term plans as well. And our commitment in sustainability, our 2025 goals, they remain the same.  I think what I’m really seeing now is the agility and the sense of community that our teams are bringing around the world. And not just sustainability, right? So, sustainability at AB InBev is housed under procurement, so we have a great relationship with our procurement colleagues who are really delivering that impact and executing against those long-term commitments of our supply chain.  But also, our operations teams, logistic teams, our corporate affairs teams, we’re really working hard in creating that local impact today from the donation of masks and emergency relief water to providing hand sanitizers. We’ve figured out how to make them and donate them to our supply chain partners — to launching digital platforms to support bars and restaurants. Those are some of the immediate efforts that the teams have taken on. But at the same time, we’re really full speed ahead on those long-term commitments.  Our commitment in sustainability, our 2025 goals, they remain the same.   As we’re seeing signs of recovery around the world, our team is energized about continuing to work towards those longer-term commitments, towards the [United Nations Sustainable Development Goals]. One thing for sure: We really cannot lose these learnings and agility, and I think that’s been a great learning and contribution of the pandemic — helping us to be more agile and to be more collaborative. Clancy: You already referenced supply chains. This situation has made the vulnerability of certain types of supply chains very visible to the world. How have you worked to ensure the safety and sustainability of your partners within the supply chain?  Barcenas : Supply chain resilience is being tested with this — all the COVID-19 disruptions around the world, forcing countries and companies like ours to rethink our sourcing strategy, refocus our efforts. I would say we’re fortunate in that our operations — with operations in nearly 50 countries around the world our supply chain is much shorter and less complex than you’d think. We have historically invested heavily: We have been investing heavily in local sourcing and creating those local supply chains wherever possible. In fact, we always like to give this number out: We buy, make and sell over 90 percent of our products locally. So, you can think of us as a global company, but our local footprint is really deeply rooted in our operations. That connection hasn’t really changed.  Maybe one example. If you think about agriculture, right? Beer is made of natural materials. Raw material sourcing is really fundamental to the quality of our products. We take great pride in the quality of our raw materials that in turn can help us create some of the most admired brands in the world. And in doing that, in working closely with the farmers, we help contribute towards their livelihoods. And we work with tens of thousands of smallholder farmers around the world.  During the pandemic, one example I can give is how our agronomists are continuing to support our farmers remotely, even if they cannot do field visits, which usually that’s their way of working. They will go out onto the field and visit them in person, talk through their challenges, provide better management and technology tools for them. Right now, they’re doing all of that remotely.  We’re also working to ensure that there is proper sanitation and safety measures, for example, at buying centers. So, keeping those buying centers open — like barley buying centers and other raw materials — and up and running is really huge for farmer cash flow, if you think about it. So, we’re really working to maintain these wherever possible. That’s short-term efforts. In terms of mid-term, long-term, how are we helping our supply chain, especially on the ag front: We’re doing scenario planning with partners like TechnoServe to better understand the impacts on smallholder supply chains, so that it can better inform our ag support services moving forward, as well as our sourcing. Clancy: How has the situation affected your packaging commitments and recycling strategy, if at all? Barcenas : I want to highlight how our packaging sustainability journey has really accelerated — in 2012, when we came out with a commitment to remove 100,000 metric tons of packaging materials globally to when you fast forward to 2018, when we came out with our new public commitments to protect and promote a circular economy.  Today, as part of our 2025 goal, our focus is to make sure all of our products are in packaging that is returnable or made from a majority of recycled content. So, that’s our vision and our commitment.  You can think of us as a global company, but our local footprint is really deeply rooted in our operations.   It is a sad reality that around the world we’re seeing waste management services and recycling programs being impacted. In some markets, they’re deemed essential and in others they’re not. And yes, we are seeing impacts of this, too. What we do in those cases is continue to partner with the recycling cooperatives to mitigate the impact and to ensure the livelihoods of our partners, as well. And to achieve that circular packaging vision, there are a number of things we do. Reuse, reduce, recycle, rethink is how we think about that, and we try to identify gaps in our current ways of working, or technological gaps so that we can identify scalable solutions.  One pilot that is actually currently underway that we kicked off about a month and a half ago is with this startup called Nomo Waste  [Spanish]. It’s a startup in Colombia that is part of 100+ Sustainability Accelerator. We are working with them now on collecting the bottles that get lost in the supply chain, “lost” in the supply chain … to bring them back to the breweries or back to the suppliers, so that bottles can be reused to continue to reduce waste in the supply chain.  We’re also working with another accelerator startup from our first cohort called BanQu … It’s this blockchain technology that we used in our smallholder farm supply chain. Now we’re implementing the same technology with our recycling supply chain — trying to improve the traceability of that bottle and therefore improve the financial inclusion of our recyclers or the waste pickers in the city of Bogota.  Clancy: I wanted to ask about the 100+ program. So, can you offer a status report? Barcenas : We had our first cohort applications back in 2018. We received over 600 applications in our first year, and we were really proud of it. It was born because when we set our 2025 sustainability goals, if you look at it, the language is 100 percent of direct farmers, 100 percent of communities in high-risk watersheds, et cetera.  When we were going through the strategy-setting or the goal-setting process we asked ourselves — we had a candid conversation in the company and with our partners: How sure are we that we’re going to hit these goals by 2025 based on existing solutions and ways of working, partnerships out there? We noticed that there was a clear gap in ensuring, for example, that 100 percent of our farmers will be financially empowered.  The 100+ Accelerator was born out of that to try and identify solutions for problems that we can’t solve today alone. It’s an open platform. We’re hoping any company can come and join us. In its first year, we had [21] startups in our cohort, and they’ve been hugely successful. Some of them we’ve extended them into multiyear commercial contracts. We’ve taken them to different markets. After the initial success of the pilots, we’re scaling them up. We just had our second round of applications wrap up late last year and had our kickoff meetings earlier in February in New York. We received over 1,200 applications from 30-plus countries, and we narrowed it down to 17 companies. Clancy: Can you give me some examples?  Barcenas : I glazed over BanQu , just a quick plug there. BanQu is a non-crypto blockchain technology that uses an SMS service to record purchasing and sales data. We’re using this now with farmers across Uganda, Zambia and India. We were able to scale this partnership to offer farmers a digital financial aid entity.  What used to happen is that these farmers did not really formally exist in our supply chain. They couldn’t go and open a bank account. They couldn’t get crop insurance. They couldn’t get a loan. By giving them a digital record of the transaction, they are able to prove that they are part of our supply chain. And we’re helping them with the digital capabilities as well. We’re offering digital payments, which in turn reduces their cash transactions and therefore lowers their risk for themselves and their families. So, we’re really proud of this. And now, this BanQu technology that we piloted in the ag supply chain we’re bringing to our recycling supply chains as well in Colombia, for example.  Another one, maybe just a quick one: EWTech  [Spanish] is another startup that we piloted in Colombia as part of our first cohort, a great example of how innovation can continue to drive efficiencies in our operational processes. What EWTech does is they offer a green replacement for caustic soda, which we use in the industrial cleaning process. In the pilot test in Bucaramanga, we found out that EWTech’s more sustainable solution, the green solution that they offered, actually showed a 70 percent reduction in water usage versus traditional disinfecting chemicals, 60 percent reduction in cleaning cycle time, which resulted in savings on energy, in freeing up time on bottling lines. So, this was a huge success for us, both from a financial and from an environmental point of view. We are now in the process of figuring out how we can roll this out across many more breweries in the middle Americas — so, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador. Of course, with the pandemic things are getting a little bit delayed, but it is our mission to, again, scale this innovation that we identified that is delivering great results for the business and also for the world. Media Authorship Anheuser-Busch Close Authorship Clancy: Can you offer a progress report on the fleet electrification strategy?  Barcenas : Transportation is about 9 percent of our global carbon emissions, and our ambition is to reduce our global emissions by 25 percent across the whole value chain by 2025. Most of this lies in Scope 3, and logistics is a piece of that. We are currently piloting a range of different solutions around the world, looking specifically to fleet electrification but also other things — routing efficiencies, other ways to reduce carbon emissions in our logistics operations. We currently have a pilot in each one of our six operating zones around the world … As you can imagine, COVID-19 has caused some delays to the delivery of additional fleet, and that’s slowing down somewhat the pilots. But we are very ambitious in this area and very keen to identify new solutions and confident that we’ll be able to identify and champion these new innovations and continue to electrify our fleet. Clancy: What do you feel is your most important priority as a chief sustainability officer and strategist right now? Barcenas : We always say sustainability is our business, and I think the biggest learning out of this is that we must not lose the momentum, the learnings and the agility that we’ve built up over the last couple of months to really tackle these problems. We’re a global company. We’re learning a lot along the way as the pandemic has spread around the world. We’re becoming more prepared. And we can’t pause now. Right? So, I think that’s another big learning. In fact, we’re working really hard to ensure and restore the resilience of the communities and the supply chains. That’s our No. 1 priority. And not just supply chain, our entire value chain. As I mentioned, we’re working with our key accounts — bars, restaurants, et cetera — to make sure that they can return to their businesses as well as recovery happens. And we’re really thinking, we’re really spending a lot of time thinking about — not just about how to recover or bounce back but also how to come back even stronger than before, how to retain that agility and focus to continue to create that local impact.  Today’s and tomorrow’s toughest challenges, I think, will require us to continue to be agile and learn new ways of working and continue to innovate. At AB InBev, we’re committed to just that: continuously innovating to future-proof our business and our communities, and inspiring our people in the meantime, right? Inspiring our consumers through our brands as well. Pull Quote Our commitment in sustainability, our 2025 goals, they remain the same. You can think of us as a global company, but our local footprint is really deeply rooted in our operations. Topics COVID-19 Food & Agriculture Corporate Strategy Beer Sustainable Development Goals / SDGs Regenerative Agriculture Collective Insight The GreenBiz Interview 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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AB InBev VP: Our quest for ‘agile’ sustainable development continues

Native Shoes’ Bloom collection is made of repurposed algae

May 18, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Many conventional shoes are made with materials sourced from petroleum, but conscientious companies, like Native Shoes, have been rethinking that choice, digging for solutions in using readily available and eco-friendly materials instead. For Native Shoes, turning to algae , which naturally occurs in lakes and rivers, presented a benefit that is two-fold. Algae take oxygen from the water, and if oxygen levels deplete too much, they can kill off fish and become toxic to humans. Although algae often serve as food for aquatic life, removing some algae from the water makes it safer for the entire ecosystem. But then what do you do with all of this excess algae that has been removed? Native Shoes’ Bloom collection is made using “Rise by Bloom” technology that repurposes the algae, transforming it into a high-performance material for the shoes. The company stated, “The innovative manufacturing process cleans up to 80L of water and 50 square meters of air per pair, resulting in cleaner lakes and rivers , healthier air and featherlight footwear.” Related: Algae Lamps are a work of art and natural shade in one The newest line builds on Native Shoes’ classic Jefferson model, with designs for women and children in new colors to welcome spring and warmer weather. The collection also includes the new Audrey Bloom, a classic, feminine flat; the Jefferson Bloom Child features a slip-on, slip-off kids’ shoe . The Jefferson Bloom is priced at $45, the Audrey Bloom is $55 and the Jefferson Bloom Child starts at $40. Native Shoes’ mission is to fuse innovation with sustainability to create comfortable, durable shoes that leave a small footprint on the planet. According to Native Shoes, the company hopes to find alternative uses for all of its products by 2023 in a goal to “Live Lightly.” As such, it has created initiatives such as the Native Shoes Remix Project, which recycles the shoes into playground equipment for local kids in Vancouver. Native Shoes is also experimenting with 3D printing and more plant-based designs. + Native Shoes Images via Native Shoes

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Native Shoes’ Bloom collection is made of repurposed algae

Recycled materials and traditional techniques define this farmstay in India

May 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

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At the edge of the Sasan Gir wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, India, d6thD design studio has completed Aaranya, an agricultural farmstay that pays homage to the rural vernacular and Mother Nature. Crafted with a small carbon footprint, the building adopts low-tech systems, such as passive solar orientation and terracotta roofing, to minimize energy usage. The use of local construction techniques also helped stimulate the economy by employing nearby villagers and craftspeople. Completed in January 2019, Aaranya comprises a series of buildings, each consisting of two attached cottages topped with gabled terracotta -tiled roofs that help offset the monsoon seasons’ heavy rainfall and intense heat in summer. Carefully set amidst the mango trees, the low-profile cottages blend into the lush landscape and look as if they were “planted” on site. The east-west orientation of the buildings also helps minimize heat gain and takes advantage of the cooling breezes from the adjacent agricultural field. Related: A terracotta home keeps naturally cool in one of Thailand’s hottest regions “Rather [than] spending millions on the best technology to create the greenest of green buildings when very few Indians can associate with them and even fewer can afford, we have came up with a simple, established and honest approach inspired by the vernacular architecture,” the architects explained. The use of terracotta, for instance, helps evoke the image of traditional Indian village architecture that has been built from the earthy material for generations. Over time, the tiled roofs will be covered in creeping plants and, as a result, the building will “virtually disappear” once the roof is fully vegetated. In addition to terracotta roof tiles, the architects also looked to traditional construction techniques for the rubble stone-packed foundation, load-bearing exposed natural sandstone walls and the brick dome, which features a mosaic and a window wall of recycled glass bottles . The architects noted, “Every effort has been made to ensure that the cottages remain true to its context and testifies itself to the norms of vernacular architecture.” + d6thD design studio Photography by Inclined Studio via d6thD design studio

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Recycled materials and traditional techniques define this farmstay in India

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