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

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

This windmill converted into a beach house is the perfect waterfront getaway

October 2, 2015 by  
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e-Shower feels like a traditional shower head but uses just 30% of the water

October 2, 2015 by  
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This ain’t your mama’s low-flow shower head. This game-changing and tiny shower head delivers a shower experience equal in strength and feeling to a standard shower, while saving 70% water and the energy needed to heat it. Ten years in development, Australian ‘back shed’ inventor Richard West is now bringing his e-Shower to the world on KickStarter . The most outstanding difference of e-Shower is its use of centuries-old science to deliver a powerful stream of nano-bubbles that feel like a regular shower even though only 30% of water is used. The same science has a very unusual benefit. e-Shower never clogs with calcium – the most common problem of water saver showers. Richard has tested it on Australian surf beaches, in Australian army barracks and in remote Outback mining camps, so you know it will work well in your home. + e-Shower on Kickstarter 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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e-Shower feels like a traditional shower head but uses just 30% of the water

New plastic recycling process uses no water and cuts costs in half

January 8, 2015 by  
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A Mexico-based tech company says it can recycle more than 90 percent of any type of plastic without using water. The new method also reduces costs by half without suffering any loss in quality, representing what could be a revolutionary development for the recycling industry. This green technology can also be used to recycle materials that currently go into landfills, such as styrofoam and polystyrene—both of which take more than 500 years to biodegrade. Read the rest of New plastic recycling process uses no water and cuts costs in half Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: cost reduction , energy conservation , mexico , plastic , plastics , polystyrene , recycling , recycling method , styrofoam , water conservation , water issues

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