Innovative Recycling System Crushes Styrofoam Overload

May 8, 2019 by  
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Online shopping has made life easier in many ways. But … The post Innovative Recycling System Crushes Styrofoam Overload appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Innovative Recycling System Crushes Styrofoam Overload

Maryland could become the first state to ban plastic foam containers

April 9, 2019 by  
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Last week, the Maryland General Assembly voted 100 to 37 to approve a ban on plastic foam containers. If the bill is approved by Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland will become the first U.S. state to ban such containers because of their harmful impact on human health and the environment. The bill will now go to Republican Governor Larry Hogan for approval. Although Governor Hogan has not yet expressed a position, the bill has enough votes from the House and Senate that it would be able to override a potential veto, should the Governor decide to issue one. Related: TemperPack raises $40M to combat plastic foam waste “After three years of hard work, I’m thrilled to see Maryland be a leader in the fight to end our reliance on single-use plastics that are polluting our state, country and world by passing a bill to prohibit foam food containers,” Brooke Lierman, Democratic representative from Baltimore and sponsor of the bill,  said in a statement . “The health of the Chesapeake Bay, our waterways, our neighborhoods and our children’s futures depends on our willingness to do the hard work of cleaning the mess that we inherited and created.” Plastic foam  is widely used for food containers, because it helps maintain temperature and prevents spills; however, the material is highly toxic to humans and the environment. The problem with plastic foam Styrofoam is actually a trademarked brand name for the plastic material Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam. In her book  My Plastic-Free Life , Maryland based author and anti-plastic expert Beth Terry explained the four major problems with Expanded Polystyrene foam: 1. Polystyrene materials do not biodegrade. This means that every food container used once and thrown away will stay on the Earth forever. The containers do break apart into smaller pieces, but never compost . 2. Plastic foam is made with fossil fuels and toxic chemicals. Plastics are made from fossil fuel products and are detrimental to the Earth in their manufacturing, use and disposal. ESP includes the chemical polystyrene, which was labeled as a “ probable carcinogen ” by the World Health Organization. Not only does the manufacturing of polystyrene products pollute the air and cause serious health problems for factory workers, but the chemical also leaches into drinks and hot or oily food. This is especially problematic, considering plastic foam containers are frequently used, particularly for hot foods. Polystyrene is linked to cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma. As The Story of Stuff explained , “Yes it keeps your coffee hot, but it might be adding toxic chemicals to it, too.” By the Center for Disease Control’s current estimates,  100 percent of humans have traces of polystyrene in their fat tissues — an example of how pervasive this pollution and toxic problem is. 3. Animals try to eat it. Because plastic foam never biodegrades and floats on the surface of water, small pieces are often mistaken as food by marine animals , like sea turtles. In Baltimore Harbor, a trash-collecting machine has scooped up more than 1 million bits of plastic foam since it launched in 2014. The machine, locally nicknamed “Mr. Trash Wheel,” records approximately 14,000 plastic foam containers collected every month from the Harbor. Related: Baltimore’s floating trash-eaters have intercepted 1 million pounds of debris 4. Plastic foam cannot be recycled. Unlike some other types of plastic, polystyrene products cannot be recycled in most facilities; therefore, they often end up in landfills if not carried out to the ocean. The few facilities that do accept plastic foam only allow clean, uncontaminated products, which rarely exist because the containers are typically used for messy food items. The first state-wide ban Several counties in Maryland and throughout the U.S. have already banned plastic foam , but this will be the first state-wide ban. To see what cities and counties have banned the hazardous material, check Groundswell’s map . Opponents of the bill argue that it will unfairly hurt small farmers, food businesses and nonprofits, because biodegradable food containers are more expensive to source. Eco-friendly alternatives include containers made from cardboard, bamboo , mushrooms and other organic materials. These novel inventions are significantly pricier than plastic foam. Maryland’s ban will notably not include plastic foam items packaged outside of the state, such as microwavable instant noodle bowls. It will also not include the foam trays sold with raw meat products, nor will it cover non-food related items. This is Representative Brooke Lierman’s third attempt to get the bill passed. If successful, the bill will go into effect in July 2020 and be punishable by a fine of $250. Via Phys.org Images via  Matthew Bellemare ,

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Maryland could become the first state to ban plastic foam containers

Bananatex launches a sustainable material revolution at Milan Design Week

April 9, 2019 by  
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A party of three has collaborated to create a multi-purpose material sourced entirely from banana leaves. Swiss bag brand QWSTION, a yarn specialist from Taiwan, and a Taiwanese weaving partner spent four years developing the new material, which is being revealed at the 2019 Milan Design Week. The strong, flexible material, called Banantex, offers a new universal option in the search for sustainable materials . Beginning at the source, the banana leaves come from a natural ecosystem of sustainable forestry in the Philippines. The banana trees grow naturally without the use of pesticides or other chemicals. Plus, they do not require any additional water. The banana plants are a boon to an area previously eroded by palm plantations, bringing back vegetation and a livelihood for local farmers. Related: See how banana trees are recycled into vegan “leather” wallets in Micronesia With a long history of creating materials from sustainable resources, QWSTION saw the strength and durability of the banana leaves that were used in the Philippines for more than a century as boat ropes. Following three years of research and development, the bag company finalized the plant-based material. As a bag company, the first products they put together are backpacks and hip pouches, made completely with the plastic-free material. The larger goal, however, is for other companies to use Banantex in their own production, spreading the application to any number of industries that could eliminate many of the synthetic materials on the market today. United with the common goal of inspiring responsible product development, the team conceived the idea as an open source project with this in mind. The characteristics of the material makes this idea easy to imagine since it is durable, pliable and waterproof. Plus, it is biodegradable at the end of the life cycle, significantly reducing post-consumer waste rampant in the clothing and accessories industries in particular. The display will be open to the public at Milan Design Week on April 9-14, 2019. + QWSTION Images via QWSTION

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Bananatex launches a sustainable material revolution at Milan Design Week

New York City bans polystyrene foam starting January 1

January 4, 2019 by  
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New York City has officially become the largest jurisdiction in the United States to ban polystyrene foam food and beverage containers. On January 1st, the city’s new policy went into effect after a five-year lobbying and litigation effort from the plastics industry to upend the city’s environmental initiative. Back in 2013, the City Council authorized the statute that states NYC restaurants, food vendors and stores can’t possess, sell or offer polystyrene foam containers for food and beverages. In addition, stores can’t sell or offer “packing peanuts,” which is polystyrene foam used in shipping. They added the ban on the peanuts because they are difficult for both consumers and sanitation officials to dispose of sustainably . Even though the policy took effect on January 1st, businesses will have a six-month warning period to make the necessary changes before the sanitation department starts to enforce the ban. After June 30th, violators will be facing a $250 fine for their first offense. Related: Study finds microplastics in sea turtles around the world In anticipation of the new rule, many NYC food service establishments have already abandoned polystyrene containers and switched to more environmentally friendly options. Some of the substitutes are containers made from aluminum, compostable paper or easily-recycled plastics. Since hitting the market in the 1970s, polystyrene foam food and beverage containers have been an environmental problem because of their brittle composition, which means they break down into tiny pieces and litter the city streets, park, and beaches. To make matters worse, the foam gets flushed into storm drains and gets into local waterways, where fish and birds mistake the foam pieces for food. And, if the containers do make it to a landfill , they can survive for more than a century. The price of more environmentally-friendly containers is nearly the same as the polystyrene foam. However, if businesses with an annual gross income under $500,000 can’t find a substitute with a comparable price, they can obtain a waiver from the ban. Via NRDC Images via felixgeronimo

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New York City bans polystyrene foam starting January 1

MVRDV to transform an Amsterdam office complex into a green residential zone

January 4, 2019 by  
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In response to Amsterdam’s increasing housing demands, prolific Dutch architecture firm MVRDV has designed Westerpark West, a sustainable proposal to transform the former ING office complex into a new residential zone flush with green space. Located in the Amsterdam Brettenzone, directly west of the city’s popular Westerpark, MVRDV’s master plan envisions a neighborhood of approximately 750 homes that will range in size, building typology and price. Westerpark West will also follow an “innovative energy master plan” that combines district heating with seasonal thermal energy storage. Spanning an area of 70,000 square meters, the Westerpark West master plan will include twelve buildings, five of which will be designed by MVRDV. To reconnect the isolated area to its surroundings, the architects will work with London-based landscape architecture firm Gustafson Porter + Bowman to extend the landscape of the Westerpark onto the site and align the plot structure with the street patterns found to the south. MVRDV has also enlisted architecture firms TANK, Blauw, KRFT, Studio Maks, and DoepelStrijkers to design the architecture of Westerpark West. A number of existing office buildings on site will also be transformed into comfortable, energy-efficient housing. An abundance of outdoor green space will tie together the buildings and include front gardens and loggias as well as balcony gardens and roof terraces. The master plan also includes catering facilities, a child daycare center, as well as three underground parking garages with charging points and car sharing. Related: Shipping container village for startups pops up in Amsterdam “Amsterdam urgently needs housing in all sorts of sizes and price ranges, for both purchase and rental,” says Nathalie de Vries, co-founder of MVRDV. “Given the large number of homes that this project adds to Amsterdam-West, we have focused entirely on architectural diversity. The public space will be green and closely connect with the Westerpark. The combination of park and urbanity is unique to Amsterdam. Where else can you live in a park in the middle of the city?” + MVRDV Images © CIIID

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National Parks are being trashed during the government shutdown

January 4, 2019 by  
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As the government shutdown continues, many National Parks are suffering from a lack of staff as well as a complete disregard for the rules by visitors. According to multiple reports, some parks — like Yosemite National Park in California — are being overwhelmed by trash, vandalism, human waste and destructive off-roading. “It’s a free-for-all,” said Yosemite worker Dakota Snider, who added that the heartbreaking situation is the worst he has seen in his four years living there. The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week that people had seen some visitors at Yosemite dumping bags of trash from their cars, and the park closed two campgrounds and a redwood grove because of issues with human waste and a lack of staffing. Related: Air pollution levels in national parks rival those of major US cities “With restrooms closed, some visitors are opting to deposit their waste in natural areas adjacent to high traffic areas, which creates a health hazard for other visitors,” said National Parks Service spokesman Andrew Munoz. At the beginning of the shutdown, the Trump administration kept most of the National Parks open with skeleton staffs on site to make sure visitors followed the rules, like no littering and no hunting. But because there was no one to collect admission fees, the number of visitors has surged, and the skeleton crews can’t handle the park traffic. Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park has locked its restrooms and trash bins because of human waste issues, wildlife concerns and public health, according to a notice on the park website. In addition to the human waste problem, the weather has also been an issue in some locations. Arches and Canyonlands in Utah have closed because there is no money to plow the snow. The state of Utah was paying to staff all five of its National Parks , but as the new year started, it decided to staff only Zion. At Joshua Tree in Southern California , local residents and businesses are volunteering to help keep the restrooms functioning by cleaning them and hauling out trash, and private park tour companies are doing similar work in Yellowstone. In New York , the state is funding both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island to make sure they continue to operate during the shutdown. Via Huffington Post and LA Times Images via Joshua Tree National Park ( 1 , 2 )

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INFOGRAPHIC: The dangerous truth about Styrofoam

December 1, 2015 by  
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It might keep your coffee hot without burning your hand, but plastic foam – more commonly known as Styrofoam – is one of the most harmful materials around when it comes to the environment. This petroleum-based plastic has gained a lot of negative attention in recent years, prompting bans in many cities such as New York City and Washington D.C. But some cities are still on the Styrofoam bandwagon. Check out the following infographic to see why it’s time to ditch the stuff. Read the rest of INFOGRAPHIC: The dangerous truth about Styrofoam

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INFOGRAPHIC: The dangerous truth about Styrofoam

Plastic-eating worms may offer solution to our growing garbage problem

October 2, 2015 by  
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Every year, 6.4 million tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean . On land, plastic gathers in landfills, on beaches and in sensitive ecosystems all around the world. In America alone, we throw away 33 million tons of plastic per year and we show no signs of slowing down. Now, new research shows the tiny mealworm might just help us solve our massive plastic problem. Scientists at Stanford have discovered that the humble mealworm can live on a diet of Styrofoam and other polystyrene. Read the rest of Plastic-eating worms may offer solution to our growing garbage problem

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Japan will begin testing self-driving cabs next year

October 2, 2015 by  
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A company called – wait for it – Robot Taxi has announced it will begin trials on autonomous taxi cabs in Japan next year. Fifty lucky residents of Kanagawa prefecture, just south of Tokyo, will be the first to ride the taxis of the future on round-trip journeys from their homes to local stores. And don’t worry, there will still be a human riding along in the driver’s seat just in case the self-driving car gets into any trouble. Read the rest of Japan will begin testing self-driving cabs next year

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Inflatable, portable PhotonGrill cooks your food with nothing but the sun

October 2, 2015 by  
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