Category Archives: Green Living

It’s time for U.S. employers to go green

By Margaret Badore

A survey released yesterday shows that many Americans want their workplaces to be more environmentally sustainable, and employers should take note.

The survey was commissioned by Ricoh Americas and conducted by Harris Polls. The survey of 948 employees, people defined as having part-time and full-time work, aimed to measure how much people care about their company’s sustainability practices.

The poll found that three out of four employees said they would insist on change if they saw an obviously wasteful practice at work. Sixty-seven percent said they would report if their company were harming the environment.

Perhaps most surprisingly, 44 percent of respondents said they’d rather be unemployed than work for a company that knowingly harms the environment. “People do not want to be associated with a company that is knowingly damaging the environment,” said Jason Dizzine, director or technology marketing at Ricoh. He also points out that the phrasing of the question regarding unemployment is very specific. “It’s not that they’d rather be unemployed than work for a company that doesn’t have the strongest environmental policy.”

It should be noted that the survey aimed to measure workers’ general attitudes towards sustainability, rather than look for their opinions on specific sustainability practices.

Many Americans feel that they are being more sustainable at home than at work, with 68 percent of respondents saying that they feel they do more for the earth at home than at work.

Although more than half (59 percent) of surveyed employees were optimistic about sustainability in the future, it’s clear that there’s still a lot of work to be done. Thirty five percent of employees think their companies would sacrifice the environment to increase profits and 18 percent said they’d seen an environmentally harmful activity at work.

“Employees are demanding these types of commitments to sustainability and environmental programs,” said Dizzine. He says that if companies want to attract top talent, adopting environmental practices is a good idea. It’s no longer just government regulations or even customers that should make companies care about sustainable practices. “I think it’s clear from this poll that employees are expecting us to take action as well.”

Read the original article here http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/its-time-us-employers-go-green.html

My personal comments by Danny Clark

This past weekend I was in one of the largest retail chains in the world shopping for a few particular items. Being that it was Easter weekend, there was a very large display area filled with gifts and baskets. One thing that stood out in the center of this massive display, was an enormous mound of white plastic buckets. A pile so high of these plastic buckets; useable for making gift baskets and/or the obligatory Easter egg hunt. . There must have been hundreds of these white buckets at this particular store and I could only imagine that this same display was the same all over the country in each and every retail location. Thousands upon thousands of these plastic buckets that would ultimately be thrown in neighborhood trash cans in the next few days.

I happen to know this particular manufacturer and have worked with several people within their company. This particular manufacturer is one of the top five largest plastic manufacturers in the U.S. and produces millions of pounds of plastic items just like these one-time-use buckets. The majority of products produced by this manufacturer are one-time-use, non-recyclable, that will inevitably end up in landfills around the country.

What environmental mission would you expect from a company like this that produces millions of pounds of plastics and how should they take responsibility? This particular manufacturer suggests and supports the idea “that we all should recycle our plastics.” This is a great idea but does nothing to reduce the environmental impact this manufacturer places on the environment everyday by producing millions of pounds of plastic products that are destined for a landfill.

Somehow some companies have developed the notation that by simply stating “we support recycling” is somehow reducing their impact on the environment. I’m not sure that those who take this approach really truly understand what it means to take responsibility and take action to reduce their impact on the environment. One must actually do something; make a change in some way to start reducing their company’s environmental impact.

“Lobbing the turd,” by simply stating that your company supports recycling only makes the recycling issue someone else’s problem. In my opinion if these people within this manufacturer really supported recycling they would no longer produce a single product that didn’t have at least 30% recycled content. Imagine the change this would bring?

And what about using technologies such as ENSO RESTORE that bridge the gap between recycling and landfilling plastics? The technologies are out there that are better for the environment so it’s time to stop playing the “green” game by promoting an agenda that does nothing to reduce your company’s impact on the environment. Take responsibility by doing something to reduce the environmental impact your company places on the environment every day.

We all play an equally important part in solving the global plastic pollution problem, but it’s up to each of us to ask ourselves what we are doing to reduce our impact on the environment and then start doing something now to make a difference.

The truth about reusable shopping bags

Some bags are only beneficial after more than 100 uses

By Quentin Fottrell

Los Angeles is the latest American city to ban the use of single-use plastic grocery bags, but experts say their most common replacements—paper and reusable bags—come with environmental and financial costs of their own.

Indeed, some reusable bags need to be used over 100 times before they’re better for the environment than single-use plastic bags. Polyethylene bags need to be used four times, a polypropylene bag must be used at least 11 times, and a cotton bag must be used at least 131 times, according to a study by the U.K. Environment Agency .

Starting Jan. 1, the Los Angeles City Council prohibited the use of plastic bags, joining nearly 90 other cities around the country in banning what environmentalists say have been the scourge of oceans for decades. Consumers in L.A. will now have to pay 10 cents for a paper bag provided by the supermarket or bring their own reusable bag to the store. But the cost of paper and reusable bags goes beyond just the 10-cent fee. “If we are really going to change behavior we need to come up with some other way than relying on shoppers to buy paper bags or carry their own bags,” says Phil Lempert, CEO of grocery information site SupermarketGuru.com . In other words, find an alternative to both single-use “carryout” and reusable plastic, Lempert says.

The widespread use of single-use carryout plastic bags raises significant environmental concerns, according to a 2010 report by professional technical-services company Aecom Technology Corp ACM -2.03% . It cited the short and long term adverse effects to marine ecosystems, solid waste management, global resource consumption and litter. In most instances, a switch to reusable bags provides the greatest environmental benefits, the report found, “if used at least a minimum number of times.” Many major retailers sell reusable bags in biodegradable canvas, plastic or “bioplastics” manufactured from natural materials. But some of these materials “are very, very energy intensive material to manufacture,” says Stephen Joseph, counsel for the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, a San Francisco-based coalition of plastic bag manufacturers.

People may not want to carry food in the same bag for extended periods for fear of contamination, experts say, although cotton bags may be the most easily washed and reusable. At the end of their life, only 5% of reusable plastic bags are recycled in the U.S., according to a 2011 report by California State University, Chico, and Clemson University. That’s the same recycling rate for single-use plastic bags.

Another problem: Many reusable bags being sold at the country’s major retailers are imported. Wal-Mart WMT -0.67% sells reusable bags with slogans like “A little green goes a long way.” In fact, many have also come a long way—over 7,000 miles. Wal-Mart’s standard reusable bag (50 cents) is made in China. Whole Foods has a variety of 99-cent “ Better Bags ” that are made from 88% recycled materials, but they’re not exclusively made in the U.S., a spokesman says. (Whole Foods shoppers are offered a rebate of 10 cents for each reusable bag they use.) Home Depot HD -0.87% also touts a store-branded orange nylon tote (99 cents), which is made in China. And Trader Joe’s polypropylene reusable bags (99 cents) are made in Vietnam.

Paper bags are biodegradable, but some experts say cutting down trees is no answer either. Some 46 million tons of paper and paperboard were recovered in 2011—a recycling of almost 66%—and accounts for over half of all recyclables collected in the U.S. by weight, according to the government’s Environmental Protection Agency. That includes all paper, of course, and not just bags. “By volume, it’s still enormous,” says Joshua Martin, director of the Environmental Paper Network, a global coalition of over 100 nonprofit organizations. Still, Martin welcomes the move away from plastic bags in L.A. and elsewhere, and favors a surcharge for each paper bag to encourage more people to think twice—and then some—about recycling. “You won’t find a whale washed up on the beach with its belly full of paper,” he says, “so I support the ban.”

To read the original Market Watch article click here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/are-reusable-bags-worse-for-environment-than-plastic-2014-01-09

When I ran across this article I knew that I needed post this as a blog. This is a fantastic article and the comments are very telling with the reality of the situation we face when it comes to solving global environmental problems. There really is no arguing the pros and cons of plastics in our lives. The introduction and development of plastics was and continues to be a significant innovation to the improvement to the quality of life and at the same time it also is a growing environmental problem.

This article and the comments are great examples and a sample of how our society is trying to address the environmental problem we have created with using plastics. The truth is that innovation got us into this mess and innovation will have to get us out of it. It is extremely frustrating to see society desperately trying to do something with most of what is trying to be done will take decades to get habits changed or make even a slight difference on a large scale. The truth is that what we are doing is barely making a dent in the problem we already have and is not even close to keeping up with global growth of plastic use.

It’s frustrating at the least to listen to the arguments about using reusable bags verse single use bags. Most of what is being done whether it is using reusable bags, recycling, trying to reduce plastic use, etc is trying to solve a huge problem using tiny approaches. Sure it feels good as an individual to use reusable bags or to choose to throw everything into the recycle bin, but these approaches will not solve our global plastic pollution issue. We must think big and bring big solutions to the discussion of how we are going to solve this issue, otherwise we are going to look back 10, 20 , 30+ years from now and see that the problem has only gotten worse.

ENSO Plastics has developed a renewable plastic resin which is made from agriculture waste, it is marine degradable and completely safe if consumed by humans or other animals. So why are we still dealing with figuring out if we should use reusable bags or if they should come from china or all the other little issues, when there are technologies that exist today that would make bags that would biodegrade (in landfill and compost), are marine degradable within a few weeks, would break down within months if littered (based on climate moisture) and if consumed by wildlife would do no harm and is digestible?

Using ENSO RENEW resin to manufacture bags would cost a fraction of what is being proposed for paper bags of ten cents. This is a no-brainer in my mind and is the passion behind ENSO Plastics to solve the global plastic pollution issue. This technology and others like it are available today and consumers should be demanding large scale solutions like these to address the large scale plastic pollution issue.

Plastics Recycling-Where Did We Go Wrong Mentally?

 

Ok before the recycling folks and their allies come Para Trooping into my office and try to seize my computer, I need to get out right away that recycling IS good and should be pursued to every extent possible.  This rant is about how best to accomplish this without essentially putting our heads in the proverbial sand!!!

I came across an interesting article in Waste & Recycling, “Coffee makers wrestle with recyclability of single-serve pods” where it speaks to the challenges with recycling single serve coffee pods made by Keurig which was acquired by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc.  Apparently since 2009, the company Terra Cycle has been able to capture 25 million of similar discarded single-use cups, and has been attempting to make good use of them, but it sounds like it is very difficult to nearly impossible to recycle them.  Also, the article says that, “approximately 13% of the U.S. adult population drinks coffee using these single-use cups.”

So let me get this straight:  Approximately 40 million (13% U.S. Population) of these containers are discarded EACH DAY, and the recycling efforts over a 2 year period to recover these cups has amassed a whopping 25 million?  Of which there has not been any useful value found for these lucky cups?  Am I the only one that sees a problem here?  In 2 years it has taken a noble attempt by Terra Cycle (I have much respect for this organization, awesome innovators!) to get nearly half of ONE days worth of consumption of cups, to then turn around and make a useless pile of cups, all in the name of recycling!!!???  Is there no other way to approach this end of life issue?  Is this the best thing we can do with this issue right now –today?  Why does recycling feel so good for the marketplace?  I repeat; 1/2 days’ worth of material collected over the span of 2 years, with no outlet in sight, yet we turn a blind eye to this complete failure because it is labeled “recycling”…so many questions and comments.

So at this point, I should proclaim the easy answer -after all it is easy to be a critic and to point at what is not happening -or flat out failing.  But I do not propose to have an easy answer or “silver bullet” to cure all, but I do have sense enough to see that we need to quit being so brainwashed into thinking recycling is the silver bullet as well.  It is clearly not working alone in that only 7-9% of all plastics are being recycled.  And lets not forget that a vast % of our recycled plastic WAS going to China, and now may not find a home as China’s “Green Fence” is clearly revealing.  We need to incorporate a multifaceted approach to our waste issues and material resources.

What if these cups were made to biodegrade in a landfill where they most likely belong?  75.8% of all Municipal Solid Waste goes into landfills that capture the biogas created by biodegradation.  There has been unprecedented growth in utilizing Landfill Gas to Energy (LGE) in the U.S. recently as the experts now understand that it is better to promote and capture this alternative source of energy, rather than try and stop nature taking its course and entomb or dry landfill our waste.  The “no smoking” signs on an old landfill turned golf course has to make one nervous and draw some obvious conclusions-we cannot stop nature from taking its course. (:

Lastly, the Utopian Societyists say we need to move to 0% landfills.  I say that this is wrong and absolutely impractical.  We should rather be saying we need to achieve 0% waste.  If composting is considered Organic Recycling (which by the way creates 0% energy and captures LITTLE to no emmissions) then similarly, LGE is a valuable alternative to creating useful end of life values towards 0% waste.  Picture that huge pile of unusable “lucky because they were recycled” coffee cups and tell me I’m wrong.  Can we PLEASE do more than bury our heads in the sand and actually address today and tomorrow and not let “best” practices get in the way of the good we could do NOW?  If the total recycling rate of all plastics is 7-9%, that means roughtly 91-93% of our plastics is going to a landfill where it has no further value.  If they were biodegradable plastics like the kind ENSO Plastics assists brands and manufacturing to create, they would slowly biodegrade and be an excellent feedstock to LGE.  If you are one that thinks that recycling is the only answer, I ask you to shift your mentality and question status quo, question what is popular as “best practices” with our waste and push for a multi-pronged approach to our sustainability.  People are smart if they open their eyes and minds to innovations and bury their head in a more progressive endeavor like answering the question, “What more can we do?  Today?”   

-Del Andrus

 

Go Green America TV with Jeff Davis

Talking Green with the “Go Green Guy” Jeff Davis

ENSO Plastics recently had the opportunity to talk about some green topics with the “Go Green Guy”, Jeff Davis from Go Green America TV .  As someone who is out there trying to educate and encourage people to live, and go green, we wanted to reach out to Jeff and see what his thoughts were on some topics that are relevant right now in our industry and field. ENSO Plastics shares a common goal with people like Jeff in that we want people to make the best decisions when it comes to environmental choices. We started off by just learning a little bit more about how Jeff got started in the “Go Green” movement:

Q: There are a lot of different reasons people get into the “Green Movement”, what motivated you to start your program,”Go Green America TV“?

Jeff: I was interested in finding some information for myself and my family. When I started searching for info on Green Living it just seemed so overwhelming. I thought there must be a better way to spread the word. So I started tweeting and blogging and before you know it “Go Green America TV” was born.

Q: That’s really great that something that started off as a personal goal turned into a much larger scale project of educating and providing information to others as to how they can go green as well. Now that your there, what is your goal with Go Green America? If there was something you could specifically achieve or a moment that would occur where you would sit back and say, “Man I’ve done it!”, what would that moment be or look like?

Jeff: My ultimate goal is to get “Go Green America TV” on television where I could reach millions. Daily I get interesting feedback from readers about how they enjoy what I am doing, for me that is it, knowing that I can effect people just by sharing what I learn, passing along information in such a way that it may just change they way people live their lives. I am not sure what the defining moment would be, but the little moments along the way will keep me going.

Q: Well we hope that you can achieve that goal! In regards to being on TV or how you run your program right now, you bring a lot of information to the table with your site and TV Channel, what is the biggest hurdle in trying to educate the public about green topics? What is the best way to go about getting the information to people?

Jeff: I think the biggest hurdle is finding an approach that people will actually take the time to listen to. There is so much Green washing out there that people are a little put off by the whole Green Living movement. I try to experience it with them, learn together and not be too much in your face. I want people to know that even the littlest things that we all do, make a difference.

I feel the best way to reach people is with video and I am in the process of finally getting that aspect of GGATV going.

Q: It is tough with the amount of Green Washing that has occurred, to keep people in the game and not be put off. One item of interest is plastic, and plastic usage is always a big deal, in packaging and with recycling, what is your overall impression of the environmental impact of plastics?

Jeff: It (plastic) has been a part of our lives for such a long time now it is difficult to just get rid of it. Recycling seems to be a key component in dealing with plastic but I still feel that the ultimate goal would be to reduce it’s use as much as possible. The trash factor, the landfill factor, the non biodegradable factor they all are a part of it, but sometimes we forget that plastics are petroleum based, love to see petroleum use cut when ever possible.

Q: There are a lot of factors involved in plastics, and specifically with plastic right now there is a lot of attention on plastic bags, specifically single use plastic bags, what is your take on it, what is the real solution, or is there one?

Jeff: I like the ban myself. I am not sure if it is the solution but I like it. Of all the single use items out there the plastic bag is the most widely used, the one that seems to get attention because it is easy to educate people on using reusable bags. People do tend to reuse plastic bags, but just for trash and they still end up in the trash can, they are one of the least likely items to be recycled.

Q: I agree with you in that I am also not sure it is the solution. It will be some time before we learn what kind of positive or negative impact the bag bans have. When you talk about ideas like using reusable bags, do you think we are we doing enough as people to go green? Even you personally do you feel there is always more and more you can do to be green but find difficulty in achieving all those goals?

Jeff: Are we doing enough? As long as we can get everyone to at least be conscious of there actions, hopefully it will be a cause and effect where they will make changes on there own. I think education is key, the more we understand why to live Green, the more people will make an effort. I myself know that I could always do more and I am striving to do so. It is a journey one step at a time, we just need to get as many people to start that journey as possible and the small steps will really make a difference

Q: On a global level there is a push to “Go Green”, even the Olympics this time around is trying to be as green as possible, and there is a lot of pressure for companies and brands to have “Green Initiatives”. From a global perspective what countries are really taking a lead with this, is the US in the lead?

Jeff: Globally I think that we are beginners when it comes to the environment. We’ve been the Global leaders in convenience, which is not a good thing. We have for the most part, become an unhealthy and somewhat lazy society. From what I can tell, England and many other European countries as well as Australia and Canada could teach us a lot about being environmentally responsible. I do think that we are finally catching on and hopefully catching up. We are finally educating people and a big part of that is just doing what we are doing right here, talking about it, sharing information, explaining why it is important.

We dropped the ball when Jimmy Carter tried to kick start the country down the right path and it wasn’t even called Green Living then. Solar panels, bio fuels, electric vehicles, we pushed them all aside and now we have to play catch up. I think we can do it!

I think we can too, and I think you have touched on something very important here. What really catches my attention here is when you said earlier, “the more we understand why to live Green, the more people will make an effort”. A lot of the time when I see a how to live green topic, blog or video it is simply that. It is at a high consumer level and sometimes it is effective and sometimes it is not. If though, we started focusing more on the “why” along with the “how” then I think more people would understand the importance of what it really means to “live” or “Go Green”.

Q: Thanks for your time Jeff, and we look forward to hearing from you in the future!

Jeff: It was a pleasure, thank you for taking the opportunity!

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To learn more about Jeff Davis and his “Go Green America TV” make sure you visit his site, gogreenamericatv.com and follow Jeff on twitter !

 

 

Don’t Be An Environmental Honey Badger

Think for a moment that you’re at the drugstore picking up a few items. Some products you may be loyal to, others you may be trying for the first time. Would the packaging play a role in what you buy at the store? Would you consider buying something in a recyclable container before buying a product with packaging that will go into the garbage?

Maybe you don’t care where it ends up. Maybe you do. Did you know that even if you were to you choose the packaging that says it can be recycled, will most likely end up in a landfill anyway? Surprising, I know! Don’t feel bad, most people don’t know this.

In an effort to be “green” those consumers, conscious of the environment, tend to purchase items with recyclability. Even though you may choose a product based on the “green factor” of its packaging being recyclable, ninety-four percent of recyclable products will end up in a landfill.  Turns out your efforts to be “green” are mostly moot.

Recycling is a misnomer. I’m not suggesting that we stop putting items in our green recycling can on recycle day. Six percent of our recyclable items get recycled. I’m suggesting we take a closer look at where our products and its packaging are ending up.

What if you are the person who doesn’t care where the packaging goes? You throw it in the garbage and it magically disappears when that big truck stops in front of your house once a week and dumps all your problems.  Not your garbage anymore, but it’s still your problem.  How can it still be my problem you ask? Because you, along with me, along with billions of other people live on this earth. And what we do to our planet affects us all.

And for you do-gooders who buy “green” and recycle everything, nice effort! But, most recycling facilities are very picky about what they recycle. Do you know what happens to the material they don’t recycle? Yep, it ends up in a land fill.

Ultimately, a land fill seems to be the final resting place for most of our products’ packaging. Landfills that are quickly filling to capacity.  Landfills that are full of packaging that will sit under the dirt for hundreds of years. It won’t be our problem by then, but it’s a problem we’re causing for the future. It’s a good thing if you’re wondering if there are any solutions to this environmental issue.

Biodegradable plastic is the solution.  An additive added to the plastic manufacturing process that will allow the plastic to biodegrade when placed into a land fill. The plastic that is not recycled can now be discarded without worry that it will affect the environment.

Going “green”, as a consumer, is an end result not a purchasing result; unless what you’re purchasing will end “green”.  Don’t be an environmental honey badger. Care enough to know where your products and its packaging are ending up.

Compostable Products Go Straight To Landfill

In Marin, Many Compostable Materials Go Straight to Landfill

Despite proliferation of biodegradable foodware, those products aren’t being composted at the two waste management facilities in Marin. As a result, people’s choices might not be as eco-friendly as they think.

Greenwood School 8th grader Leyla Spositto and her classmates knew something was amiss just a few weeks into the school year when they saw the trash piling up.

Greenwood administrators had chosen San Ramon, Calif.-based Choicelunch as the school’s new lunch provider largely because nearly all of its packaging was made of compostable materials – from corn-based bio-plastic cups to potato-based “spudware” forks and spoons – and therefore would be diverted from the landfill. The move fit with one of the school’s core values of environmental stewardship.

But when Greenwood environmental science teacher Julie Hanft told the students that so-called bio-plastics weren’t being composted in Marin, Greenwood’s 7th and 8th graders, who handle the school’s trash as part of their after-school chores, were stunned.

“All of the stuff from Choicelunch was going to the trash,” Spositto said. “We were very surprised that a system didn’t exist for the packaging to be composted like it was supposed to be.”

So was Greenwood School Director Debra Lambrecht.

“We were very, very surprised,” Lambrecht said. “And the fact that the children were shocked and appalled? We thought, ‘Well right on.’”

With lots of packaging that could neither be composted nor recycled – bio-plastics can’t be recycled like regular plastic – the students and Hanft arranged to have a large collection of their Choicelunch packaging taken to Recology near Candlestick Park in San Francisco, where bio-plastics are composted. But they quickly realized that having a parent or teacher drive a truck across the Golden Gate Bridge weekly wasn’t exactly a sustainable solution.

Greenwood’s students and school administrators found themselves at the crossroads of an issue that all involved say is riddled with complexities. As a result, many Marin residents who think they’re making eco-friendly decisions – buying only compostable plastic cups for their children’s birthday party, for example – are sending more garbage to the landfill than if they were using recyclable materials.

“That’s the big shame about bio-plastics – people think they’re doing the right thing,” said Jessica Jones, the district manager for Redwood Landfill and Recycling Center in Novato, where most of the trash, recycling and compost from northern and southern Marin is taken.

Jones said Redwood, a subsidiary of Waste Management Inc., doesn’t compost bio-plastics because the compost the company produces is sold to and used on organic farms. If its compost contained any materials that took longer to biodegrade – like corn-based foodware or bio bags, for instance – it could not be certified by the Organic Materials Review Institute, the Eugene, Ore., which provides independent review of products to be used in organic farming.

Jim Iavarone, managing director at Mill Valley Refuse, which sends all of its waste to Redwood, said the inability to compost bio-plastics “has been a continual issue for us” ever since the company rolled out compost service in August 2010.

“The makers of these products and food services (like ChoiceLunch) have hung their hat on that,” Iavarone said. “It’s a good idea that just isn’t delivering as hoped or as advertised.”

Devi Peri, the education coordinator for Marin Sanitary Service, which serves most of Central Marin, including San Rafael, Larspur, Corte Madera, San Anselmo, Fairfax and the Ross Valley and Las Gallinas sanitary districts, says her company is in the same boat as Redwood.

“Not all compostable plastics are created equal and we don’t even have any way to see if it’s a true biodegradable plastic,” she said.

But compostable bio-plastics are accepted by other Bay Area waste companies like Recology, which processes most of its OMRI-certified compost at Jepson Prairie Organics, a facility in Vacaville.

“There is a clear disconnect between how Recology can compost bio-plastics and how we can’t,” Jones said.

The difference, according to OMRO Program Director Lindsay Fernandez-Salvador, is that Recology has an extensive “foreign removal program.” That program, essentially a filtering system, calls for manual removal of any all bio-plastic products not clearly labeled compostable. Under California law, products labeled compostable must meet the Biodegradable Products Institute’s ASTM D6400 standards, which “determine if plastics and products made from plastics will compost satisfactorily, including biodegrading at a rate comparable to known compostable materials.”

“Any compost may become contaminated with compostable plastics, but if the program has a reasonably robust foreign removal program, that satisfies OMRI’s requirements,” Fernandez-Salvador said.

A foreign removal program means that bio-plastics that aren’t labeled clearly or don’t meet the standards either end up in a separate compost stream of only products that will degrade at a slower rate than food scraps or yard waste – or they’re tossed into the landfill.

Peri said there is some industry skepticism about how much bio-plastic material is actually ending up in the compost streams at places like Recology.

“I have a feeling that it might be more (going to the landfill) than people might want to hear,” Peri said. “And maybe more than they are reporting.”

Jack Macy, the Zero Waste Coordinator for the city of San Francisco, acknowledged that some “compostable stuff that is not labeled well ends up in the landfill.”

“But the reason that we accept compostable bags and compostable foodware is that it allows us to capture more of the organics that we’re trying to divert from the landfill,” Macy added. “Every composter would prefer not to take that stuff because of the challenges of identification and the breaking down aspect. It’s easier to say no.”

That’s the choice Redwood has made, which spurred Greenwood’s 7th and 8th graders to take on the issue as a community action project. The students researched other options, spoke with potential vendors and made a presentation to Lambrecht right before the holiday break. The school intends to move to a completely independent lunch system next year, with an in-house chef making lunches dispensed with reusable plates and utensils. The move is one that only schools as small as Greenwood, with just 127 students, can afford to make.

In the meantime, Greenwood administrators have decided to dump Choicelunch and explore alternative options for the rest of this year.

“It is very disappointing,” said Karen Heller, the director of business development for Choicelunch, whose company supplies lunches for more than a dozen schools in Marin, including the Mill Valley and Ross Valley school districts. “But it hinges on the waste management company. Our hands are kind of tied.”

For two days a week, the school’s 8th graders will be selling lunch from Grilly’s and Tamalpie Pizzeria (one day apiece) to raise money for their 10-day spring trip. Lambrecht hopes to have a new deal in place in the coming days for the other days.

“We’ve really felt like we’ve accomplished something,” Spositto said of the student’s campaign. “We’re glad we had the authority to make this happen.”

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.

 

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!

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