Cemented Plastic Makes Concrete Stronger

The existence of eco-friendly, weather-resistant structures such as Thailand’s bamboo building are evidence that designers are saving the planet. To drive a point, MIT students are embedding irradiated water bottles into cement to make concrete more robust and sustainable.

The research revealed that exposing the plastic to gamma radiation actually made it stronger. The irradiated plastic was then ground into a powder and mixed with cement. The subsequent concrete was up to 20 percent stronger than concrete made without the irradiated plastic.

Engineers found the added plastic (only 1.5% of the concoction) made concrete significantly denser. If you’re skeptical about incorporating the mix into future room renovations, don’t worry — it isn’t radioactive. Furthermore, using plastic will potentially relieve a few dozen landfills.

“Concrete produces about 4.5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions,” says [MIT professor Michael] Short. “Take out 1.5 percent of that, and you’re already talking about 0.0675 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. That’s a huge amount of greenhouse gases in one fell swoop.”

Environmentalists might campaign for a plastic-free society — but it isn’t the easiest option. Perhaps, now, it’s all about redirecting your waste to where it will be most useful.

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U.K. Installing Water Vacuums To Collect Waste

Technological advancements such as swimming robots and metallic glass have helped to alleviate water pollution. Despite this, consumers are polluting lakes and oceans quicker than we can restore them. To combat unreliable waste management, Indiegogo creators are taking “Seabins” to the U.K.

The Seabin’s creators say that each unit can collect around 1.5kg of waste a day and hold up to 12kg until it’s full. That amounts to 20,000 plastic bottles or 83,000 plastic bags a year.

At a plump price tag of £3,000, the Seabin is a splurge, but perhaps a necessary one. It functions simply and efficiently and is hardly a struggle to transport.

It houses a combination of a large natural fibre net and a dock-based pump (fed by the hook-like metal pole). This only collects debris floating on top of the water and sucks in surface oils, ensuring fish are safe.

Throw a few dozen Seabins into the Pacific and I’d say oil spills could be the least of anyone’s worries. It’s two thumbs up for this clever device.

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P&G Launches Recycled And Ocean Plastic Bottles

When it comes to recycled packaging, cosmetics brand LUSH is practically a veteran. It has repurposed 27 tons of ocean plastics and made donations to conservation groups. Now, manufacturing company Procter and Gamble is following suit, launching Fairy Ocean Plastic bottles made entirely from recycled materials.

As many as 320,000 of the 90% recycled and 10% ocean-plastic bottles are set to be released in the UK in 2018, with the overriding aim of raising awareness of the issues of growing ocean plastic levels.

As a leading brand, Fairy will likely have a significant impact on consumers and competitors alike. To ensure the success of Fairy products, P&G has also partnered with recycling group TerraCycle.

“The issue of ocean pollution is a pertinent one, we hope other brands will be inspired to think creatively about waste and make the circular economy a reality.” [said Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle.]

With plastic waste projected to outnumber fish by the year 2050, P&G hopes that Fairy will stunt the process. If anything, it will prevent some 8,000 tons of plastic from reaching landfills. It’s a start!

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42 Food Giants Pledge to Ax Plastic

2018 gave us a lot of eco-friendly changes in the food industry: Pepsi debuted reusable bottles for flavored beverages, Dunkin Donuts ditched foam cups from their packaging, even McDonald’s followed suit with foam cups and plastic straws. I hate to say that this environmentalist trend among food giants has reached its peak with the good news I bring now, but it does feel like a culmination of sorts.

A total of 42 food companies in the UK — composed of retailers, supermarkets, manufacturers, and brands — have pledged to ax single-use plastics by 2025.

Together, the signatories represent roughly 80% of the plastics sold in UK supermarkets. The initiative . . . has set a series of goals to cut wasteful packaging over the course of the next seven years. For starters, the initiative will ensure that 100% of plastic packaging must either be recyclable, compostable, or reusable in order to make it onto supermarket shelves. Some supermarkets have gone even further and declared that plastic packaging will no longer be used on fruits and vegetables.

The signatories include UK brands like Asda, Nestle, Lidl, Coca-Cola, Aldi, PepsiCo, Unilever, Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons, Sainsbury, and many others. Besides ensuring the elimination of single-use plastics, the pledge also covers recycling. The current recycling rate is 30%, and the participating food giants seek to bump it up to 70%.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who is backing the pact, said in a statement: “Our ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste will only be realized if government, businesses, and the public work together.”

In addition to bringing super chic eco-bags to the supermarket, well, I guess I just have to remember this pledge to feel less guilty when buying those apples.

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Dutch Group Builds Furniture With Canal Garbage

Nowadays, “fancy” isn’t about luxury materials and extravagant designs. Instead, lavish design is more so sustainable than it is expensive. Alternative to landfills, trash is making its way back into homes as furniture. Alongside startup Pentatonic, Dutch company Plastic Whale is turning plastic waste into chic furniture pieces.

Plastic Whale recently announced a circular furniture collection, composed of a conference room table, chairs, lamps, and acoustic panels that are all made out of PET bottles from Amsterdam’s canals.

A thousand bottles make a single high-end felt and foam-paneled table, while 50 to 60 make a chair. Considering the amount of plastic polluting bodies of water, furniture selections have ridiculous amounts of potential to grow. Even better, Plastic Whale models its furniture after marine life.

Ten percent of the profits… will be invested in local projects in other parts of the world that aim to use a similar economic model to turn plastic waste into something valuable. The resources generated from the furniture will go into more plastic fishing expeditions.

In an industry constantly on the hunt for the best textiles and constituents, trash is certainly their treasure.

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U.K. To Tax Plastic Products To Reduce Pollution

To minimize ocean pollution, nations are campaigning against single-use plastics in the hopes of replacing them with more eco-friendly options. While Costa Rica is steadily approaching its goal of going plastic-free in 2021, Kenya has banned the material altogether. To further the cause, U.K. chancellor Philip Hammond is calling to consider plastic tax.

“The Treasury’s announcement is only a statement of intent, but it recognises the significance of the problem and the urgent need for a solution. There is a long way to go, but hopefully this is the beginning of the end for single-use plastic.” [said Greenpeace campaigner Tisha Brown.]

To stunt the growth of an annual 12 million tons of plastic waste, U.K. stores began pricing plastic bags at 5p. In just 6 months, the move reduced usage by 85%. Suddenly, the tax proposal makes a lot more sense.

“Any action to tackle single-use plastic is a good thing, but we must ensure any action is truly ambitious if we want to make the real difference needed to help save the planet.”

Plastic may be convenient, but the millions of marine animals killed each year will beg to differ. Plastic tax — two thumbs up from me!

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Lego To Debut First Plant-Based Toys

They say starting em’ young is the best way to get a point across — and you often can’t go wrong with a toy. Since first promoting sustainability through bioplastics, Lego is already onto something greater. By the end of the year, the trinket tycoon will launch a collection of plant-based bricks.

Production has started on the sustainable pieces, which include “botanical elements” like leaves, bushes, and trees. The new pieces are made from polyethylene, a soft and durable plastic, and Lego notes that they are “technically identical to those produced using conventional plastic.”

Lego’s $165 million investment in plastic alternatives will hopefully see a drop in the 4% annual consumption of petroleum. The masterminds behind the popular Millennium Falcon build-it is also teaming up with WWF to reduce carbon emissions.

“It is essential that companies in each industry find ways to responsibly source their product materials and help ensure a future where people, nature, and the economy thrive,” said Alix Grabowski, a senior program officer at WWF in a statement.

For nearly 90 years, Lego has inspired us to build more than just fantasies, but sustainable realities.

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McDonald’s To Ax Plastic Foam Cups

We’re three months into the year and McDonald’s is showing up every fast food chain on the planet. From its impromptu discovery of an anti-balding agent in its fries, Mickey D’s is up to something even bigger. To get with the times, the Supersize Me star is phasing out all foam products by the end of 2018.

It’s the first time the fast-food giant has openly committed to a deadline to completely stop using polystyrene drink containers, which are eco-unfriendly and nearly impossible to recycle. The containers for its large cold drinks represent a mere 2 percent of its packaging, which still comes out to millions of dollars and cups annually.

The restaurant overlord last made a large gesture towards sustainability 27 years ago. The company then replaced styrofoam “clamshells” with eco-friendly paper packaging. Still, it’s a much-needed push en route to a greener Earth.

McDonald’s is expected to announce a packaging and recycling initiative [soon], said Conrad MacKerron, a senior vice president of As You Sow. “We do appreciate what McDonald’s has done,” he said. “It’s taken a long time, but better late than never.”

I guess slow and steady wins the race!

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Royal Family Plans For Waste-Reduction At Palace

In the war against plastic, the U.K. is proving itself to be a leading champion. Its ban on cosmetic microbeads and large-scale installation of water fountains is doing wonders for the nation. Now, Queen Elizabeth is taking her own measures against waste, phasing out plastic straws and bottles in all royal estates.

A palace spokesman told the press that there was a “strong desire to tackle the issue” at the highest levels. “Across the organisation, the Royal Household is committed to reducing its environmental impact,” he said.

On top of its plastic wipe-out, the palace itself is getting a green makeover. Solar panels will line its lush gardens, and the building will sport more efficient energy and composting systems. With 300 million tons of trash a year making their way into tranquil oceans, the Royals aren’t a family to be stagnant about it.

Prince Charles has delivered several speeches about damage to the oceans… he warned of an “escalating ecological and human disaster” from refuse in the seas. Charles and Dame Ellen MacArthur… offer a million-dollar cash prize to anyone with a great idea for keeping garbage out of the ocean.

I tip my hat off to you, Royal family. And I’m sure the fish do, too.

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Biodegradable Six-Pack Beer Holders Are A New Fad

At present, contemporary breweries have moved out of beer houses and into labs. To make up for scant resources, many sustainable groups are crafting tasty drinks from bread and other waste. While revamping recipes is a success in itself, we can’t yet say the same for packaging. Six-pack holders are often 100% plastic, but that isn’t the case for Mexican Startup E6PR. Eco Six Pack Rings’ holders are made with compostable materials that are completely biodegradable.

“With the help of E6PR, we would like to inspire the entire beer industry to follow our lead… Our goal is to transition all of the packaging in our facility to this six-pack ring alternative that goes beyond recycling and strives to achieve zero waste.” [said Chris Gove of SaltWater Brewery.]

The rings dissolve in water and are safe for marine animals to ingest. E6PR hopes to produce the holders for all types of cans and bottles along with their standard size.

“If most craft brewers and big beer companies implement this technology, we will potentially be saving hundreds of thousands of marine lives as a result,” said Francisco García, the engineer behind the project

It’s quite the genius party trick, and while it won’t harm any animals, we do hope you reach for a rubbish bin before making the ocean yours.

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