Tag Archives: ENSO additive

landfill biodegradation

Manufacturers Beware!

Have you ever thought about where your plastic garbage goes?

Shopping for items packaged in plastic may end up costing you more in the long run; that is, if you discard the packaging incorrectly. The same could be true for plastic manufacturers if California passes their latest bill (Assembly Bill 521) on “extended producer responsibility”.

Right now; in San Francisco, California it is against the law to not recycle your trash.  That’s right…you; as a law abiding citizen must separate all of your garbage, recyclables, and compostable items.  To ensure that all citizens are complying with this law, trash auditors check garbage bins the night before it is scheduled for pickup. If you do not comply after several warnings, the non-complying residents will receive fines and/or have to take educational classes on recycling.

Taking this a step further, California is now working towards making plastic manufacturers responsible for the end of life of their product; ultimately, charging hefty fines for material that is not disposed of properly.  (This, after recently making the word biodegradable illegal on labeling)

So who is responsible for all of this plastic pollution that is littering our oceans and filling our landfills? Is it the consumer?  Is it the plastic manufacturer? Is it the recycling industry? (Who happens to discard more plastic than it recycles.) California may think they are doing the right thing by penalizing those who are in the path of plastic – from beginning to end – but they’re not supporting or encouraging better solutions…so who’s fault is it, really?

Despite whose responsibility this may be; it leads to a very important question…”Why are we not producing plastic that is biodegradable or even marine degradable? And, (ok, two questions) if there is a solution, why, as consumers and manufacturers, are we not jumping on that solution?”

I think that if there is a solution to this plastic pollution problem and a plastic manufacturer is using a product that is proven to be biodegradable and/or marine degradable, they are showing their end-of-life responsibility and it should be encouraged and rewarded amongst those companies; as well as, consumers who use such a product.

Does such a product exist?

Yes!

ENSO Plastics has created an additive, that when added to the plastic manufacturing process will cause the plastic to become biodegradable; as well as, marine degradable. There are two customizable blends that offer many options to manufacturers – ENSO RESTORE and ENSO RENEW.

This is the solution California needs to recognize, before they start penalizing all of their citizens and plastic manufacturers. California may want to make the people responsible, but I think the state needs to be responsible by allowing new technology and better options for their residents and local commerce.

Wake up California! The solution is staring you in the face!

 

Oceanic gyres

Destination: Garbage Island

I’ve heard stories over the years about “islands”, out in the middle of the oceans, which are created completely from discarded plastic. It’s hard to believe that such a place would exist. I recently watched the documentary, “Garbage Island”, by Vice. This documentary proved there is no such island, at least not in the terms of plastic patches so thick you could walk on them.

What is actually out there; 1,000 miles from any landmass, is much worse than a simple growing patch of used up plastic. There are vortexes, holding in tons of broken down plastic particles from the plastic that doesn’t sink (LDPE, HDPE). This plastic floats along the currents of the ocean, breaking down year after year from the sun and the salt water, ultimately finding its home in and around the slower currents of the gyres.

It would be relatively easy to scoop up all the large items of trash and clean up our oceans, but the small, usually microscopic, size pieces of plastic particles would be nearly impossible to clean up.  All marine life has to live in an environment that is ultimately becoming toxic. They ingest the plastic particles and, in turn, we ingest the seafood.

How do we limit the amount of plastic that is ending up in our oceans? This isn’t a problem only confined to the United States, this is a worldwide problem. It’s not enough to just know where our plastic products are ending up, i.e. being recycled, landfill, etc. We should also be more aware of what types of plastics are being used and how their end of life is affecting our environment.

ENSO Plastics Restore is leading edge technology that gives plastic material biodegradability in landfills; and ENSO’s Renew resin will make plastic marine degradable. This is a solution that can solve the plastic pollution problem in our oceans. A solution that needs to addressed; because once the plastic is out of our hands, it’s up to nature to take care of the rest.

 

 

 

 

Regulation: Friend or Foe? Is it coming soon to your town?

We have heard regulatory agencies wanting to do more to protect the consumer and the environment alike.  And while regulation is a necessity for a properly functioning society, what does the current trends of regulation do for your business?  What does it do for our economy?  What does it do for innovation and ultimately the environment?

Unfortunately, there is also an additional qualifying question anyone familiar with the way the world spins around will ask themselves… “it depends on which private business is lobbying for, and what agenda…”  Todays environmental issues have an opportunity to be treated with innovation and forward thinking.  Perhaps never before in our history have we been more prepared and evolved to address the real problems relating to the environmental issues we face.  Words like; Life Cycle Analysis, Carbon Footprint, Sustainability, green movement…the list goes on-all in the name of greening up business and consumer habits.  But at the end of the day, what has been the net result?  Because in the end, what is paramount is results-positive results.

How is regulating this “green movement” helping?  Today, innovations have to answer questions of legitimacy and solid science.  Federal agencies like EPA, FTC, FDA are all both educating and becoming more educated on what the market trends are doing, and what materials are available to help green up materials and processes.  They demand companies to sufficiently demonstrate the validity of their claims, and help to curb “green washing” for the irresponsible opportunists looking to only capitalize on our consumer base sincerely wanting to do the right thing.

We at ENSO take this demonstration of legitimacy and solid science behind our innovative material VERY seriously.  We have engaged top-of-their-field scientific minds to aid in the quest to help our innovation receive the understanding and market reception it warrants.  Sometimes innovation outpaces conventional understanding, and what helps bridge the gap between innovation and acceptance is education and credibility.  Some of these processes take more time than desired, but in the end, things that are worthwhile and lasting often endure hurtles.  Many of our past innovations were looked at as a “pipe dream” only to turn into life changing propositions for markets-cars, electricity, a round earth etc. all took time for conventional wisdom to catch up to these innovations.

Today, I believe the market is ripe to receive an increase in both innovation and education, with responsible regulatory agencies sifting through relevant information to help environmental and economic impacts in our market.  Although the budgets in many agencies have been drastically reduced, they are hard at work to create a viable market which will include an earth friendly future marketplace.  Hopefully this work combined with everyone’s convictions and individual effort will drastically reduce the length of time processes can take, so we can more efficiently make innovative materials a positive conversion in our market.  So all can answer, regulation is a friend, not a foe.  One thing is for sure, we need regulation, as long as it helps an ever evolving marketplace.  Indeed nothing these days seem to remain static, questions and answers will always evolve, and so will regulatory process.

 

Doing What’s Right When Nobody’s Looking

In a time when environmentally conscious branding is paramount in marketing circles, the overall adoption of “Green” initiatives should be, first and foremost, a fundamental decision. Where choices are made based on what’s right instead of what’s convenient. Often, technologies advance so rapidly that legislation is caught playing “catch-up”. It is during these times that brands face the decision of doing what is the scientifically proven best choice for the environment or shelving this choice because of marketing obstacles.

Often the final decision comes down to the corporate integrity of the brand and personal devotions of those brands leaders. The “why do we do what we do?” question. Do you implement environmental measures because it is the right thing to do, or do you implement them because it may improve your bottom line?

For example: Novartis is an international company who has made a corporate commitment to pay a ‘living wage’ to all employees worldwide. This means that they are often paying above legally required minimum wage because they understand that minimum wage does not provide for basic human needs. They implemented this corporate directive, not because it improved their immediate bottom line; but because their corporate moral standing includes a belief that an appropriate standard of living should always be respected in the course of business.

This is a specific example about human rights issues, and environmental rights follow the same path. Many companies are in business simply to make money for the shareholders, while others hold themselves to a higher standard or social cause, whether that is human rights, environmental issues, legislative involvement or truth in advertising. When your brand faces these tough decisions, it is much like a refiner’s fire where the true moral standing of your brand shines through. When all is said and done, those companies that tout their environmental accountability through the integrity of that decision and not the convenience that it offers will be clearly recognized by the consumers as brands with integrity and moral.

ENSO Plastics is both proud and honored to be partnered with many brands and manufactures who stand behind their commitments, with the foundation of scientific research, to become leaders in the adoption of improved methods for a healthier planet.

The Maturing of Biodegradable Plastics

Striving for growth and improvement is a fundamental part of the human experience. We, as a whole, are never satisfied with status quo.  This is true both personally and as a society. If one were to travel back in time to the beginning of any industry; we would discover a couple of things; industries began with the initial ideals of improving lives, they utilize best of current knowledge and understanding to bring those ideals to the masses and they improve over time.  We can clearly see that as time marches on from the beginning days of each industry, the  knowledge and understanding  changes;  resulting in improvements, wide acceptance and change.

History is riddled with examples of industries beginning as young ideas then growing and maturing over time to become well-established. In doing so, they’ve added essential improvements to the quality of life for mankind and often overcome significant opposition in the process.

It’s easy to take look at where we are today in industries such as aviation, space exploration, manufacturing, construction, education, legislation, science, and many others and forget the massive changes that have taken place since the beginning of each of these industries began.

  • Human flight was only dreamed of until the first powered flight by the Wright brothers in 1903 (which lasted only 12 seconds!). Through improved technology we now fly not only across the world daily but into space as well!
  • Copernicus suggested that the earth revolves around the sun in the early 1500’s. Books written supporting this theory were banned and supporters were persecuted and executed for heresy.  In fact Galileo was ordered by law to not hold, teach or defend this concept. Today, we accept this theory as common knowledge.
  • People laughed at Henry Ford’s “horseless buggy”. Today it is not only an essential mode of transportation, but we are finding better ways to prevent pollution and conserve energy resources consumed by these “horseless buggies”.

Industries begin just as the examples above, with the best knowledge available and often a bit of controversy. However they are regularly improving as a result of lessons learned, developments of new processes and protocols, scientific breakthroughs, and having a better understanding of what questions to ask; as well as knowing what issues to focus on and allocate resources to.

The story of ENSO is no exception to this process.  ENSO was created with the mission to change the world in the way we handle plastics – we want to solve the world’s plastic pollution issue.  Following more than a year of research to understand the plastic pollution issues; we developed ENSO additives. This additive is designed to enhance the biodegradation of standard plastics and allows the plastic material to recycle along with standard polymers.

ENSO utilizes the best of science’s understanding, processes and protocols to test and validate our technology.  As our industry matures we recognize that it is no different than the many industries that have come before us.   This industry is young and has much maturing to work through.  The culture of ENSO to improve the life of mankind with solving the plastic pollution issue does not make us shy away from the growing pains that happen with young industry and we are in the forefront, pushing the envelope by improving the science, process and protocols associated within this industry.   This does not come without hurdles, but as we see from the examples throughout history of matured industries, the key to success is continually improving the science, knowledge and education of our products. ENSO is dedicated to this continued maturation and the value that this provides to the industry and our environment.

Part #2 – A New Look At Zero Waste

If you recall, last month we discussed ZERO Waste. The key points were that every living entity creates bi-products, which can become waste if the byproduct has no value – think of your kitchen trash.

This trash is comprised of food waste, paper, plastic and anything else you did not find value for in your home. Luckily this trash goes to your curb and is neatly taken away where you no longer have to see it. Perfect right? A few years ago I would have said “NO WAY! This trash is going to the landfill where it will sit for decades or centuries. How is that perfect?” Fortunately, today we are learning how to turn that landfilled trash into a huge value – for you and the environment!

Methane. One of the cleanest and most inexpensive sources of energy available today, straight from your neighborhood landfill! That’s right, you send out trash and get back electricity! OK it is a bit more complicated than that but fundamentally that is exactly what is happening at over 550 landfills across the US.

Here are the facts:

As material biodegrades in landfills it produces methane. Methane has over 22 times the greenhouse gas effect of CO2, however when landfill methane is used for energy production, there becomes a carbon positive effect. The NRDC states that the use of landfill gas for energy has the potential to offset up to 12006lbs of CO2 per MWh, as it offsets traditional energy production such as coal and gas.

The greenhouse gas reduction benefits of a typical 4 megawatt LFG project equate to:
• Planting over 60,000 acres of forest per year or removing the annual carbon dioxide emissions from over 45,000 cars.
• This would also offset the use of 1,000 railcars of coal or prevent the use of almost 500,000 barrels of oil.

Producing energy from landfill gas avoids the need to use non-renewable resources such as coal, oil, or natural gas to produce the same amount of energy. LFG electricity’s offsetting of fossil fuel derived energy can avoid gas end-user and power plant emissions of CO2 and pollutants.

Did you know that 14 percent of renewable electricity generation (not including hydroelectric dams) comes from operations that recapture energy from discarded waste.

Companies today have a unique opportunity to utilize packaging that retains the beneficial properties of traditional plastic, such as strength, shelf life, visual aspect and process-ability, while creating a zero waste program and potentially reducing your carbon footprint. ENSO plastics are designed for disposal in today’s biologically active landfills where they will biodegrade and convert to methane for clean and inexpensive energy production. In 2009 there was 30 million tons of plastic packaging discarded into US landfills, converting this plastic to ENSO would result in about 10 million tons of plastic being converted to clean energy and offsetting the dirty energy production of coal and gas. It would also potentially free up over 70 million cubic yards in our landfills.

Did you know?

When converted to methane, 34 ENSO bottles (19.2 gram) can light a 100W light bulb for 1 hour.

Using ENSO materials provide companies a unique opportunity to step into a future of zero waste, where all product packaging is converted to clean energy, and returned to the earth in a beneficial form. In a life cycle analysis this could prove to be a carbon negative option to traditional plastic packaging.

Waste is a byproduct that has no value. Plastic that is recycled or biodegrades in a landfill has a value (economically and environmentally) and is not waste.

ENSO PLASTICS DEVELOPS NEAR-PERFECT PLASTIC BOTTLE

As featured on Newhope 360; Full Article link http://newhope360.com/packaging/enso-plastics-develops-near-perfect-plastic-bottle


ENSO Plastics develops near-perfect plastic bottle

Wed, 2011-11-09 13:09

While many can’t imagine life without bottled water, it wasn’t that long ago—the 1960s, in fact—that plastic bottle production didn’t exist. Today, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the plastic of choice in the beverage industry. According to ENSO Plastics, more than 75 percent of the ubiquitous bottles (and 94 percent of all plastics) end up in landfills. “We really want to solve the world’s plastic pollution issue,” said President Danny Clark of the Mesa, Ariz.–based company. ENSO is taking advantage of this statistic with its current solution: fully biodegradable and recyclable PET plastic.

“When we started, some of the cofounders had experience with bottled water companies. I was one of them,” said Clark. “We were exposed on a regular basis to the environmental impacts that bottled water has in the environment.” Customers asked the co-founders regularly for alternatives. Continue reading

Landfill Biodegradable Products engage in Carbon Negative Activity

POINT OF CLARIFICATION ON CARBON NEGATIVE ACTIVITY

The phrase carbon negative activity can have many interpretations that I feel needs clarification.  Carbon is sequestered in plastic as we all know, but when the plastic is biodegradable, the off gassing of methane (comprised of C02 and Methane) from the biodegradation process is combustible.  If this bio-gas is utilized in methane to energy generators, the result is considered a “green” source of energy.  However, carbon is still emitted from the process, the benefit is that we used energy from bio-gas instead of using energy from say…coal.  Utilizing methane from a landfill is only part of a possible process of creating a carbon negative cycle.  There’s a major running debate right now as to the carbon positivity/negativity of landfill biogas generation.  The back-to-back papers at the SPC conference last Spring in San Diego by Adam Gendell and Mort Barlaz spoke to two sides of this issue.  As more data flows in from many different projects currently underway, we will have a more definitive understanding of how to apply it to carbon life-cycle analysis, in the ultimate goal of realizing carbon negativity!

In the hopefully not so distant future, we will have plastic that has come from renewable sources that are not land-crop depended, but will still utilize carbon available in our atmosphere, to help in the carbon sequestering process.  ONLY when carbon is being pulled out of the atmosphere, and less carbon is being put back into it (by engaging activities like methane to energy), can someone be truly carbon negative.  Having an ENSO biodegradable plastic is part of the whole picture that is entirely up to progressive sourcing of material, and responsible end of life process.

Thank you,

Del Andrus

 

 

Part #1 – A new look at Zero Waste

 

zero waste

I often hear the term “Zero Waste” in sustainability conversations, but what is zero waste and how can a business achieve it?
We must all understand that any living organism creates bi-products, commonly referred to as “waste”. From a plant that produces oxygen and biomass, to animals that produce carbon dioxide and excrement and finally humans that create immense amounts of waste. Over millions of years the earth has dealt with these “bi-products” of life and created systems to convert this bi-product into a value. In nature there is no such word as waste.

For humans, waste is a constant reality. Our ingenuity has created processes and materials that do not integrate with the natural cycles and have no value – this is not a bi-product – it is simply waste. Plastics are a sore example of human waste. Don’t misunderstand my intentions, I do not mean to state that our products are bad, just that we do not handle them properly. For example: in 2009 the US generated 30 million tons of plastic waste. Over 90% of this plastic is buried in our landfills filling up over 220,000,000 cubic yards of space. Every year this number compounds and we are forced to continue finding new space to bury this waste.

Keep in mind that waste is simply a by-product that has no value, and EVERY system has byproducts. Let’s look at a few ways companies today can create products and processes that produce byproduct, but no waste.
1. Reduce material use – I know! Reducing does not prevent waste – but it does reduce the amount of waste you will need to address so it is key to sustainability and zero waste. Can you buy in concentrate or bulk? How about light weighting your packaging? Can you reduce multiple layers of packaging to just one?

2. Recycle – Create products that integrate whenever possible with community collected recycling programs. Look internally at your processes to determine where you can re-use scrap or send to recyclers (many recyclers pay top dollar for industrial recyclables). Most common recycled plastics are PET and HDPE.
3. Evaluate – Audit your systems regularly to prevent excess energy use, unnecessary product waste, and unturned inventory. A small air leak in a compressed system is often overlooked. Can you continue using existing product labels rather than wasting them when doing a redesign?
4. Educate – Educate your staff and customers on how to create less waste. Implement educational programs and reward success.
5. Determine product end of life scenarios – Where does your product go after use? Ensure your product is designed for that end of life and creates a value in that scenario. In the example of plastics going to a landfill, ensure those plastics are biodegradable in the landfill. (stay tuned next month to learn how biodegradable can create zero waste)

This is just a brief listing of areas you can change to create zero waste in your environment. Keep in mind that you will always have byproducts, but you need not have waste. Next month we will explore in more detail how biodegradable ENSO plastics are part of the zero waste solution.

So What?


So WHAT?!

There is no question the biodegradation of traditional plastics is a reality, and YES plastics can now biodegrade in a landfill.  However, as was so eloquently posed to me recently, “SO WHAT!?” We make plastics for every purpose imaginable and when we are done with them, we thoughtlessly toss the plastics in the landfill out of sight, out of mind…but “SO WHAT”!? Does it really matter if those plastics last forever or for just a few years?  “SO WHAT”!?

Let’s look at the past 50 years: We used 7 million tons of plastic in 1960.  We increased that to 196 million tons in 2005 and are expected to exceed 365 million tons in 2015. “SO WHAT”!? We put almost 90% of our plastic waste in our landfills. That equates to over 300 million tons of plastic every year in the landfill. TONS.  Billions of tons filling up our landfills with plastic that will last pretty much forever.  And each of us continues to add TONS more every day.  If that is not enough to make you jump out of your seat and upgrade all of your plastic products to biodegradable…

 

Let’s look at things from a different view; The ENSO view.

 

Biodegradable Plastics –

Because we can reduce the volume of our landfills

Because we can build fewer landfills

Because every biodegradable plastic product you use can be converted to clean energy

Because we can choose plastics that work with nature rather than against it

Because your products can create a better world

Because WE created the mess and continue to do so

Because it’s this generation’s responsibility, not our children’s or our grandchildren’s

Because today you have a choice and tomorrow may be too late

Because your customers want it

Because you know it is the right thing to do

 

“SO WHAT” will you choose?