As one of the world’s most in-demand resources, paper has a massive carbon footprint. Because of the waste it creates, many are recycling or seeking paper alternatives. Startup MOO produces business cards made with fabric waste, while Paper Saver is a no-new-paper journal. Now, a Dutch province is recycling tons of toilet paper into a 1km bike path for cyclists.
The bicycle path uses what’s called tertiary cellulose, extracted from waste streams, says Erik Pijlman, director at KNN Cellulose, one of the partners on the project. “We take the cellulose out of these streams and once again make it into a [raw material],”
But not to worry — you won’t be seeing any remnants of used tissues on the bike path. The process includes sifting paper fibers, which are then cleaned, sterilized, bleached, and dried. To say the technique is doing fine is an understatement — it’s taking over Dutch roads.
“What we did is not only create technology and prove that it works, but we also have a market that is willing to take in the material,” Pijlman says. “And that’s really the next step in this kind of development.”
The fiber can also be used in creating filters, biofuel, and textiles, among other things. Of course, while in theory it’s useful in creating other products, we’ll keep it away from direct human contact. No one wants a stinky pillow case.
At present, some 795 million people don’t get the proper nourishment they need. While the number is staggering, only a few farms and soup kitchens are taking action. This Australian family is playing its part, feeding dozens of families with produce from its 1-acre permaculture farm.
At Limestone Permaculture Farm, they grow organic produce, raise sheep goats and chickens, keep bees, and even build with recycled materials. Much of the farm is powered by energy from wood, water, and the sun.
In essence, permaculture pays homage to natural ecosystems and how they function. Instead of growing a single crop in large-scale, permaculture integrates symbiosis so different plants may flourish. Owners of Limestone, Nici and Brett Cooper, believe that permaculture is the future of food.
“We feel there has been an awakening across our beautiful country, self-reliance is on the rise again; urban and rural homesteading has people taking their food and energy supply back into their own hands.”
To encourage the unique farming technique, the Coopers offer workshops, internships, and permaculture design programs to tourists. As it seems, permaculture is opening doors for rural communities and, in turn, also helping out the needy.
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.
Oftentimes, for a piece of rubbish, landfills are an eternal resting place. Rarely do they see a better climax, save for those that become furniture or even vodka. Despite lack of efforts to recycle, some continue to hold the Earth near and dear to their hearts. One such individual is 12-year-old Nadia Sparkes, a.k.a. “Trash Girl”, Norwich’s newest cartoon hero.
The Hellesdon schoolgirl was so “shocked” by litter strewn near her home and school she began picking it up in her bicycle basket, leading to jibes and the seemingly cruel nickname.
Sparkes has since encouraged the public to pick up three pieces of litter a day, and hundreds have agreed. If you haven’t heard, kids, sustainability is all the rage — and bullying is so yesterday.
Creative Nation’s Alex Jeffery said… “We think she is a superhero for putting the planet first in the face of the bullies who chose to criticise, rather than help her and get involved.
“We also wanted to see if our image could inspire a nationwide cartoon, sent to schools to inspire more young people to do the same fantastic work.”
Never pick on the kid with a basket of empty cans. It could be their greatest weapon!
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!
Engineers are always on the hunt for more efficient ways to power the humble double-A battery. So far, industry geniuses have tried unusual mediums such as air and even spit. Yet the search is far from over–as electronics innovator Juan Pablo Esquivel is testing a paper battery.
“We develop small, nontoxic, inexpensive fuel cells and batteries that don’t need to be recycled and could be thrown away with no ecological impact,” he explains.
The petite power cell will charge disposable devices and microelectronics. And no–we’re not talking Hot Wheels. Esquivel aims to make pregnancy, glucose, and and disease tests cheaper and more accessible.
“Esquivel is like Cristiano Ronaldo, and, like Ronaldo, he’s playing for an excellent team. That’s why he gets results,” jokes Antonio Martínez, a professor at the Polytechnic University of Madrid.
With single-use devices hitting the bins before they lose charge, landfills could use a little less lithium.
When determined joggers aren’t plucking trash off running paths, coffee-goers are investing in reusable to-go cups. Yet plastic pollution persists around the globe, inspiring other groups to make initiatives. Playing its part in a more eco-friendly society is dessert colossus Dunkin’ Donuts. The popular brand is hacking its disposable foam cups by 2020 for a sustainable substitute — but the process hasn’t been easy.
“Transitioning 9,000 restaurants from our iconic foam coffee cup is a big decision that has implications for our franchisees’ bottom line and the guest experience, and we did not want to take it lightly,” the company said.
Deciding against a polypropylene cup, Dunkin’ Donuts is trying out double-walled paper. It’s far superior in terms of recyclability and how easily it’ll biodegrade, and a total hit with sustainable forestry standards.
“With more than 9,000 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in the U.S. alone, our decision to eliminate foam cups is significant for both our brand and our industry,” [said] Karen Raskopf, Chief Communications and Sustainability Officer.
Lucky for us kids, the material will still, apparently, keep drinks piping hot. No one wants to sip on a cold Americano.
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.
Since the UN drafted its resolution to allay plastic waste, various superpowers have been succeeding its proposal. Among the campaigners is the European Union, which hopes to produce materials that are fully recyclable by 2030.
“If we don’t do anything about this, 50 years down the road we will have more plastic than fish in the oceans … we have all the seen the images, whether you watch [the BBC’s] Blue Planet, whether you watch the beaches in Asian countries after storms.” [said Dutch diplomat Frans Timmermans.]
Bearing in mind that plastics take 500 years to break down, making them entirely reusable is a smart move. To kick off, the EU is looking to tax single-use plastics, aiming to recycle 55% of materials within 12 years. Versatile, recyclable product designs will help keep oceans comparatively unsoiled.
“More and more it is becoming a health problem because it is degrading, going to little chips, fish are eating it and it is coming back to our dinner table,” said European Commission vice president Jyrki Katainen.
As Europe produces over 25 million tons of plastic waste a year, any start is a good start. The Blue Planet waits for no one.
Incentives such as edible coffee capsules and money-back deposits are finally making rounds in popular cafes. Though sustainable coffee has caused a significant ripple in the waste world, old habits die hard. To encourage coffeegoers to indulge in reusable tumblers, Starbucks is charging Londoners 5p for paper cups.
“To that end we will be exploring the impact that a cup charge may have in changing behaviour in addition to the measures we, and the whole industry, are taking on cup recycling,” [said Starbucks in an official statement.]
While Starbucks’ paper cups are recyclable, its thin sliver of plastic lining isn’t. Still, everyone’s go-to caffeine stop is better off than most. Plus, the cup money it raises will fund a “behavior change study” in the hopes of encouraging consumers to go green.
“We will investigate the impact of a 5p charge on a paper cup, coupled with prominent marketing of reusable cups, on customer behaviour,” the statement continues.
Well, folks — mug season starts today!