Tag Archives: going green

If you’re business isn’t thinking GREEN it will soon be!

Are you thinking green? Worried that it will “hurt” your bottom line?

If you’re in the plastics business you might want to think about putting the idea in your business model. Attached is an interesting reprint of a talk that you should read… and start thinking about how your business might PROFIT from “Going GREEN.”

Get green before it gets you, speaker advises

By Mike Verespej
CHICAGO (Nov. 20, 1:50 p.m. ET) — When it comes to doing something with sustainability and climate change, “No is not an option.”

That was the message that keynote speaker Andrew Winston, founder of Winston Eco-Strategies in Riverside, Conn., delivered at Sustain 08 in Chicago.

“It is not just an add-on to your job. It is your job,” said Winston, who urged plastics industry executives to make green thinking and sustainability a core part of their strategy instead of thinking of them as just costs.

“Apply a green lens to your business. This is happening. This is real. It is time to start moving,” he said.

The Nov. 5-7 conference was organized jointly by Plastics News and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.

“You have to be the brain trust on this,” he said. “You dont want someone else to do it for you. You need to be the solution and help your customers find ways to change their carbon footprint up and down the value chain. You have to compete or you will fall behind.”

Winston told attendees to think broadly and creatively about sustainability and climate-change issues. Companies should heed the new drivers in the marketplace and changing attitudes among customers and communities, he said.

“Governments are now regulating things down to the chemical level,” said Winston, pointing to European Union regulations;, state take-back laws and bans in the United States; the Western Climate Initiative; and the growing debate on cap-and-trade programs for carbon emissions.

There is no federal action so far on climate change, but that is likely to change after President-elect Barack Obama takes office. In a taped message to a bipartisan conference on climate change Nov. 18, Obama said, “Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change. Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all.”

In addition, retailers are forcing changes, Winston said.

He noted that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. now wants a “sustainability footprint” for every product it sells and is setting standards, such as how much lead toys can contain, that are “stricter than the federal government.”

“Compliance now is compliance with your customer,” he said, pointing out how Wal-Mart told detergent makers to eliminate water from their products destined for its stores and to sell concentrates — a standard that reduced the amount of resin in such containers by 95 million pounds annually and the water in those detergents by 450 million gallons.

In addition, he said, consumers are deselecting products with a perceived, even if unproven, risk to health or the environment. For example, Winston predicts the plastic bag “will be gone globally in its present form” in 10 years.

“Feelings are facts,” Winston stressed. “It may be easier to design something out than to argue with [consumers]. You should not seek out applications where the [consumer] use is about two minutes.”

He noted there are other, more valuable opportunities that can be found to replace revenue from plastic bags.

“Instead of fighting losing battles, plastics companies should be asking themselves, What can we do to reduce the carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions globally, ” said Winston. To do that well, they need to look at more than just their own products and manufacturing operations to the full value chain.

“You need to look downstream to your customers and upstream to your suppliers” to determine where the biggest impact can occur, said Winston. “You dont want to make the wrong investments” and spend money in one area when dollars spent elsewhere can have a greater effect.

It also means thinking creatively, he said.

For example:

* Procter & Gamble Co. determined that developing a cold-water detergent would have the biggest impact on the carbon footprint of its laundry products, so it developed Tide Coldwater.

* UPS developed delivery routes for its drivers that eliminated left turns, reducing wasteful idling and cutting fuel use by 3 million gallons annually.

* Wal-Mart cut energy use in the dairy sections of its stores by 70 percent by putting doors on its refrigerated aisles. It also is using a redesigned, square plastic milk container at some of its Sams Club stores. The container needs only half the storage space used previously, eliminates crates and cuts transportation costs by using 60 percent fewer trucks.

“You have to learn how to make products using a lot less stuff,” Winston said, noting global competition for limited resources. China is building the equivalent of 30 midtown Manhattans each year, he said, and 30 people in India move to cities each minute, creating the equivalent of 400-500 new cities in India annually.

“The challenge for us is to provide solutions,” he said. “Five years ago, the companies leading the sustainability charge were not U.S. companies. They were in Europe because they have a much more strict regulatory environment in the European Union. They are much more aggressive about the precautionary principle and ahead of us in managing waste.”

But the payoff can be the difference between making and losing money, as well as marketplace survival. A case in point: the money DuPont Co. saved from waste reduction and keeping energy costs flat from 2003-07 equaled its net profit in that time frame, said Winston.

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.


Community for Biodegradable Plastics

The “Green” movement is growing at a breakneck speed. Brands are positioning themselves around their environmental initiatives in many ways, but whatever they do, addressing their use of plastic seems to be the most prevalent step in having a greener footprint on the environment. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and confusion in the marketplace about this subject. It seems like every time you turn around there is a new ban or an extreme move to address the use of plastic and it’s as if nobody really knows what to do at this point. But it’s my understanding that the advancements in new technologies are what we should really be focusing on embracing and bringing to market. I appreciate groups like the Community for Biodegradable Plastics that allow an open forum to discuss this matter. If you find yourself looking for answers to questions about biodegradable plastics and technology then this is the place where you can find them.


Secrets of the Amazon – A solution for the Pacific Garbage Patch?

For decades we have known that the Amazon is home to more species than almost anywhere else on Earth. Amazon Rainforest constitutes the world’s largest “pharmacy” yielding thousands of previously unknown substances found no where else.  Compounds from tropical flora relieve headaches, help treat glaucoma and provide muscle relaxants used during surgery.  The Amazon Rainforest has also yielded guanine for the treatment of malaria and periwinkle for the treatment of leukemia.  Given the rainforest’s teeming biological diversity, its value to humanity as a laboratory of natural phenomena and as a medical storehouse is priceless.

Recently, the “pharmeceutical” benefits of the Amazon have been expanded to the potential of healing the Earth from the plague of plastic waste. A group of Yale students discovered, quite by accident,  a fungus that  appears to be quite happy eating plastic in airless landfills. This fungus shows a voracious appetite for a very common group of plastics: polyurethane.

Human beings have only begun to catalog and name the creatures that live here.  Home to thousands of varieties of flowering plants, the rainforest supports endless varieties of hummingbirds, butterflies and insects such a the rhinoceros beetle and the army ant.  It is also home to the spider monkey, pink and gray dolphins, Amazon river otter, piranha, anaconda, jaguar, blue and yellow macaw, toucan, harpy eagle, fishing bat, tapir sloth, tarantula, Cayman crocodile, manatee, etc.

The Amazon Rainforest, the largest rainforest and richest ecosystem on earth, has stood inviolate for thousands if not millions of years since its creation.  The profusion and variety of life forms present in the rainforest and its critical role in supplying the world with air has resulted in its being called the “Heart and Lungs” of the Planet. Indeed, the majority of the world’s oxygen is supplied by its dense foliage and teeming plant life which upon first inspection, seems boundless and indestructible.

A recent study by the Smithsonian Institution indicates that about 90% of all of the plant and animal species extant in the world today reside in the Amazon Rainforest and depend upon its complex ecology.  As the greatest repository of nature’s treasures and most significant source of air, the Amazon Rainforest is crucial to the survival of all life on the planet and to human beings’ understanding of their place in the web of life.  In the words of Guatama Buddha, “The forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demands for its sustenance and extends generously, the products of its life and activity.  It affords protection to all living beings.”

Before the arrival of Europeans and up to the third decade of this century, the Amazon Rainforest covered nearly 45 million acres in what is today Brazil, parts of Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.  Brazil has the greatest amount of tropical forest in the world.  It is also experiencing the worse losses:  between twelve million and twenty two million acres a year, according to the World Resources Institute.

Brazil’s rainforest is being decimated by a vast army of homesteaders, farmers, ranchers and corporate interests that include large scale mining and intensive farming. Drilling and mining leave scars, and farmers find that raising crops quickly exhausts the thin soil of cleared forest land.  Many farmers merely abandon their plots and clear new ones.  The cultivation of crop production leaves rivers polluted with chemicals.  The extraction of gold and other metals fouls waterways with mercury and other toxins used in processing.

Today, scarcely twenty years since the intensification of the development of the rainforest, it has shrunk to 88% of its original size.  It is estimated that each second, an area the size of a football field is destroyed, adding to the daily toll of approximately fifty thousand acres.  In one year, an area the size of Italy is decimated and made uninhabitable to nearly all forms of life.  Already thousands of plant and animal species about whom little was known have been irrevocably lost to the bulldozer, the chain saw and to the slash and burn methods employed by regional farmers, ranchers and miners.

Although its arboreal canopy reaches hundreds of feet into the air, the rainforest and its groves of giant trees are in fact rooted in very shallow soil and exist in a fragile balance.  The rainforest experiences an abbreviated life cycle in which the creation of top soil is bypassed through the efficient decomposing activities of tropical bacteria and fungi.  Rather than collecting in the soil, the nutrients are absorbed by the trees.  A layer of nutrient-poor soil in the rainforest is generally less than four inches deep.  Unlike other forests around the world, the rainforest once disturbed, cannot renew itself, remaining instead a barren sandy wasteland subject to erosion.

At the current rate of destruction, parts of the Amazon promise to turn into great stretches of desert within our lifetime.  The repercussions of this activity are global.  As the rainforest gets smaller, it is less able to supply the world with much needed oxygen or to absorb as much carbon dioxide contributing to global warming and the greenhouse effect.  The burning forest adds even more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere jeopardizing the stability of ecosystems worldwide.

Given the immense size of the Amazon Rainforest and it’s unimaginable bio-diversity, we have just begun to scratch the surface of the solutions residing within. If we can find cures for cancer, malaria, polyurethane waste and more; perhaps it holds the ability to cure the incomprehensible problem we face today of plastic fragments choking our oceans? What other mysteries lie hidden within the green foliage and moist soil?

ecoenthusiast Makes Valentine’s Day Green!

We all want to do our best to live green and make the world a cleaner place. When it comes to holidays though, I don’t always think about what is the greenest way to make the holidays environmentally friendly. Recently I have come across a great site that is focused on green products and living green. The site, www.ecoenthusiast.com , has great tips on different green topics and unique items of interest. Today I came across the article on how to make Valentine’s Day green. There are many great ideas there about how to make your Valentine’s green. Some of the great Valentine’s Day ideas that were in the post included sending e-cards, or saving a trip and having a romantic dinner at home. Or if you were going to buy gifts, it was suggested to buy from local craft fairs or better yet make it yourself! No matter what you do this Valentine’s Day, or any other holiday it is always great to find unique ideas on how to make it green. In this case with Valentine’s Day around the corner I would encourage you to see what the “ecoenthusiast” has in mind!

ecoenthusiast logo

Biodegradable Packaging-Nature Does it, We Should Too!

It dawned on me the other day when I was peeling a banana that nature uses its own “packaging” to protect food based material.  Yes I am talking about the banana peel as the example.   It seems as though a Banana will spoil within almost an hour when unpeeled, but if left in its peel (packaging) it will be protected for weeks being off the tree.

We peel oranges, bananas, corn etc. all paralleling the value ENSO plastics brings to the market.  The phrase, “nature does not produce anything that it cannot then break back down into its basic components” is so perfectly illustrated in this banana peel example.  Anyone will tell you, that when a banana peel is discarded in nature, they feel it will biodegrade (and I would also bet most would additionally picture someone slipping and landing on their backside because of a discarded Banana peel).

Nature accomplishes this miraculous process through the relentless activity of microorganisms designed to eat anything that has carbon available to “eat”.  Fruit, vegetables, leaves, meat etc. are just a few examples of the millions of items that are produced by nature, which will break back down into its basic microscopic components through the process nature provides.  These microbes are found everywhere, in fact there are more microbes found in a tablespoon of soil than inhabitants on the Earth.  Microbes are commonly known in high colony activity known as mold or fungus.

This nature produced packaging is a perfect parallel to what ENSO packaging is doing.  We see that we can initiate microbes to start the eating process of our treated plastic because they detect highly attractive food substances in our additive.  Once they begin to consume the additive, their digestive process, or enzymatic response, expands to consume the whole of the plastic and the additive.

This feature of our plastic working in harmony with nature is at the heart of our message to the world.  We can do things differently than we have in the past, and break out of “status quo”.  We can embrace innovation to foster change, and work with nature as opposed to working against nature.  The rewards overpower the downside when evaluated.  The upside to utilizing ENSO is growing in its understanding and impact.  Weather it is for a business wanting growth for doing the right thing, or the environmental impact of plastic on our planet, ENSO is here to help be a part of creating lasting, positive change.

During this New Year, we want to acknowledge those who are active in this change by utilizing ENSO material as part of their environmental mission.  In some instances, change has required courage and passion.  Anything worth-while has had to pass through the “growing pains” of society; hopefully those who have converted to ENSO has had more “growing” than they have had “pains”.  But in any event, the issue is too great, and the opportunity too real for anyone to not stand up and demand more.  So we want to invite others to create change for this New Year; to create a distinct legacy-whatever your position is at your company.  We invite those making key decisions for materials at their company to stand up and create change. We invite those who need to learn more about ENSO to make the decision to open their minds and get educated-misunderstanding or ignorance is part of the problem we face as a society, education can open up so many possibilities.  We invite all to hold ENSO to higher standard as well, and develop more information and answers to new questions and applications.  I hope everyone has a New Year’s resolution to be actively engaged in positive change to our environment, and elevate the status quo at your company/position to a new level of reality; even a higher standard.  We live in exciting times where someday I hope all of us can look back and say, “I was part of that great change in the market.”


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.


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