As the planet is hastily running short of natural resources, communities are looking to waste as an asset. Anything from biochar to human excrement are now staples in energy production. To bring everything together, engineers have created the NEWgenerator, which processes materials found in sewage.
First, the waste is fed into a bioreactor, where anaerobic microorganisms break down the solids and produce biogas.
The methane produced is chemical-free and perfect for cooking and heating. To complete the cycle, USF engineers have also made the most of liquid and solid waste.
The water that passes through is… disinfected with chlorine, and while the end result is probably still not drinkable, it’s clean enough to use to flush the toilets in the block or irrigate crops.
The remainder of the waste can be used as fertilizer. So far, the system is testing waters in India and South Africa. Each device is usable for up to 100 people a day, with future versions projected to reach thousands. Considering that millions are without access to basic amenities, the NEWgenerator is a game-changer for marginalized communities.
Since carbon emissions and the resource greed epidemic caused the downfall of nature, many have scrambled for a quick solution. While Peru is keeping its unscathed plantations guarded, China is restoring millions of woodland hectares. Not too far behind is the City of Love, aiming to reforest 5.2 square miles of land. The anticipated lush of trees will be 5 times larger than Central Park.
For around a century, Pierrelaye-Bessancourt has been a literal wasteland. From 1896 to the 1990s, the city of Paris sprayed sewage residue across 865 acres of the fields to fertilize them.
The unofficial landfill will take 30 to 50 years to mature into a succulent plantation. In the meantime, it’ll host a swell of hiking trails, equestrian center, and conservation areas. However, the ambitious plan will inevitably face some setbacks.
As many as 1,500 trailers are squatting on the land, and getting full approval will require a lengthy series of community meetings.
Still, a great portion of the planet has seen urban transformations over the centuries. I’m sure some parts won’t mind kicking it old school.
It’s the end of an era for plastic products. In the past year, Kenya bid goodbye to plastic bags while the U.K. made a final salute to microbeads. Latest to kick the bucket are cotton buds, axed by Scotland’s government.
“Despite various campaigns, people are continuing to flush litter down their toilets and this has to stop. Scotland’s sewerage… systems are not designed to remove small plastic items such as plastic buds, which can kill marine animals and birds that swallow them.” [said environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham.]
The ban is the first of its kind in the U.K. Subsequently, it has encouraged cotton product manufacturers to use biodegradable materials. E-charity Fidra has attempted a number of exhausting cotton bud clean-ups — and the damage isn’t pretty.
“This decisive action is great news for the environment and for wildlife. Cotton buds are a very visible sign of our hugely wasteful habits, turning up on beaches across the globe.” [said Richard Dixon of Friends of the Earth.]
Sure, cotton swabs may feel pleasant in your ear — but not in oceans and definitely not in anyone’s stomach!