Tag Archives: enso biodegradable plastics

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.”

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.


PEC to Develop Biodegradation Standard for Plastic Additives

Plastics Environmental Council to Develop Biodegradation Standard for Plastics Additives and New Certification Seal

Biodegradable Additives Play Critical Role in Helping Solve the Plastics in Landfill Issue

Milton, GA, OCTOBER 24, 2011 — The Plastics Environmental Council (PEC) today announced the
sponsorship of a research study to produce the first standard specification for the landfill
biodegradation of petroleum- and natural gas-derived plastics that have been treated with additives
that enhance biodegradation. The PEC is undertaking the development of the biodegradation standard
specification to build confidence in the efficacy of plastics additives with regulators, consumers and
businesses. Plastic additives that speed up the breakdown of plastic in landfills, without affecting their
performance during use, are critically important to helping reduce the volume of plastic waste in

Despite the fact that readily consumer-separated items such as soda and milk bottles are collected and
recycled at increasing rates, the majority of plastics simply cannot be recycled for a variety of reasons
including contamination, collection and logistics costs, second end-use limitations, etc. According to
the United States Environmental Protection Agency, 13 million tons of plastic containers and packaging
ended up in landfills in 2008. The PEC’s effort to develop a landfill biodegradation specification standard
is intended to address this issue.

To develop the standard specification, PEC has partnered with Georgia Tech and North Carolina State
University to conduct a large-scale research and development program, headed by a leading expert on
landfill technology, Professor Morton Barlaz of North Carolina State. Professor Barlaz and his team will
study waste degradation rates under both laboratory and field (landfill) conditions of petroleum- and
natural gas-derived plastics that have been treated with PEC member companies’ additives to produce
the standard specification. Once developed, the standard specification will reliably project the landfill
biodegradation rates for a given PEC-certified product in a given range of landfills over a given range of
moisture conditions with much more certainty than is possible today.

“While we already know from various independent laboratory tests that our member companies’
additives are expected to be effective at speeding up the biodegradation of petroleum and natural gasderived
plastics in landfills, this will be the first-of-its-kind study to verify biodegradation rates of plastic
waste treated with such additives under both laboratory and field conditions,” said Senator Robert
McKnight, PEC Board chairman. “The new standard will allow us to develop a simple certification seal
that will inspire confidence in these additives from businesses, consumers and regulators.”

While most plastics from hydrocarbons are recyclable, they are not biodegradable without the addition
of chemical additives and remain in landfills virtually forever. Chemical additives, many of which are
approved for use by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), are added to the plastic resins during the
manufacturing process and do not alter the final product’s performance, are undetectable by the end
user, and products containing them can be processed through current recycling methods.

The PEC expects the landfill biodegradability certification seal to be available in approximately 18

PEC member companies include Wincup, Ecologic, Bio-Tec Environmental, ECM Biofilms, ENSO Plastics,
Pure Plastics, C-Line Products, Inc., Ecolab, and FP International.

About the Plastics Environmental Council
The PEC is a consortium of businesses, independent scientists and academics, engineers, landfill and compost
operators, and environmental groups. Our goal is to assist our members in promoting the efficacy of state-of-themarket
technology to facilitate the biodegradation of conventional petroleum-derived plastics in landfills and
related disposal environments. For more information, please visit: http://pec-us.org/.

Toyota Using Sugar Cane Bio-Plastics To Replace Oil-based Plastics


Toyota, who has long been experimenting with the use of bio-plastics in vehicle production, is now using a newly developed bio-plastic derived from sugar cane in its Japanese-market Sai Hybrid Sedan.

Originally released with 60 percent of its exposed interior surfaces made from bio-plastics, the new model, to be released on November 1, will have no less than 80 percent of its interior exposed surfaces – including seats – made from the new sugar-based bio-material.

The new bio-plastic is employed in high-use areas such as the seat trim and carpets. Toyota testing confirms that it matches petroleum-derived plastics for durability and cost, while outperforming other bio-plastics for heat-resistance, durability and shrink-resistance.

Toyota developed its bio-polyethylene terephthalate (bio-PET) by replacing monoethylene glycol (commonly used in PET manufacture) with a biological raw material derived from sugar cane.

It may not be commonly known, but the manufacture of the Lexus CT200h achieved a world-first when bio-PET ecological plastic (derived from plants) was employed in its boot lining.

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.

Coco-Colas plant bottle business plan

This isn’t the most recent use for those up to date with cokes plant bottle. This article however goes into a more detailed business view of Cokes decision and long term goals. Definitely worth the read, comment and let me know what you think!


Coca-Cola in green bottles


The software drinks giant has come up with a technology to use plant material in plastic bottles. But it is not an easy task

    Coca-Cola has come up with a formula that will reduce the use of plastic in making bottles. Photograph: George Frey/Rueters

    You could forgive Scott Vitters the occasional spate of Monday morning blues. As global head of sustainable packaging at The Coca-Cola Company, he has an unenviable job. Some might even call it impossible. Every day, consumers around the world slurp their way through 1.5 billion Coca-Cola products. Packaging those servings accounts for the most sizeable chunk of the company’s environmental footprint. Now Vitters’ bosses back at Coca-Cola’s Atlanta HQ are saying they want to double sales over the next decade.

    Yet today finds him surprisingly upbeat. Hitting UK shelves today is PlantBottle, what Vitters calls a “breakthrough technology” destined to green not just Coca-Cola but the entire packaging industry.

    “We know that we need to do more with less and we know that we can do that through technological innovations like PlantBottle”, he says.

    So how does it work? The theory is simple. Plastic bottles are currently made out of a variety of petroleum-based materials. What the chemistry wonks in Coca-Cola’s labs have done is replace some of those with plant materials.

    The result is to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and cut carbon emissions by 8-10% in the process. Furthermore, the plant-based solution is an identical match with polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a recyclable plastic already widely used by Coca-Cola.

    “This isn’t about an innovation that’s just a little green widget or flavour of the day … We’re taking the next step of the journey to decouple our plastic from fossil fuels”, Vitters insists.

    The numbers seem to back him. Coca-Cola expects to shift over 200 million packs in the UK this year as it switches 500ml bottles of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero to the greener formula.

    The UK is no guinea pig. PlantBottle has already been around for a couple of years, rolled out first in Denmark to coincide with the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen. Coca-Cola currently produces around five billion packs in twenty markets.

    Vitters is adamant that the new bottle makes long-term financial as well as environmental sense. Although the plant alternative currently costs more than petroleum, he expects that to drop to parity or below by 2020 – due to predicted oil price increases and efficiencies in the PlantBottle supply chain.

    Recyclability is another big win. As one of the toughest, most efficient polymers around, PET can be reused many times. That way, the plant material stays within a “continuous loop” – one up on biodegradable plastics that go to landfill and “then sit like a petroleum bottle”.

    The impacts across industry could also be profound. Coca-Cola is working with Heinz to help it produce a PlantBottle-packaged ketchup. Toyota is also said to be interested to use the technology for the seats in its cars.

    “Across all commodity plastics, this same pathway could be followed. For HDPE [High Density Polyethylene] plastic, polyethenes, films and even PVC”, says Vitters.

    Although Coca-Cola is in the process of patenting the application of the plant-based technology (known as Bio-MEG) to containers, Vitters insists that Coca-Cola ultimately intends for the technology to be open. “This is bigger than Coke”, he says magnanimously. Vitters isn’t even again arch rivals Pepsi getting a look in too. “We believe that our competition will need to be part of this journey.” Coca Cola’s sustainable packaging chief may have skipped to work this morning, but his job is still far from complete.

    Work to do

    PlantBottle is a step in the right direction, but it’s far from the final destination. The plant-based alternative only covers ethyleneglycol – around 22.5% of PET by weight. Coca-Cola has yet to develop a commercially viable plant solution for the other 77.5%, comprising the petroleum-based compound terephthalic acid.

    Vitters admits that his marketing team would have been “much happier” if the ratios were the other way around. As it is, the US beverage giant hopes to have a market-ready, plant-based alternative to terephthalic acid by 2015. A date for its integration into brand packaging is yet to be set.

    His problems don’t stop there. ‘Plant-based materials’ all sounds very wholesome and green, but not if their production requires excessive water use, pushes up food prices (by using arable land for non-food purposes) or relies on genetically-modified technologies.

    As the Coca-Cola packaging head admits: “We knew inherently that just because it’s a plant, it isn’t better for the environment by any stretch of the imagination…this programe fundamentally rests on the ability to demonstrate proven social and environmental sustainability.”.”

    For the moment, the company has turned to Brazil and the bio-ethanol extracted from the country’s vast sugar cane plantations. As a major buyer of Brazilian sugar already, Vitters says Coca-Cola has a “comfort for getting the programme started” there.. Not that the social and environmental record of Brazillian sugar is perfect. Far from it. Vitters admits there is still “a lot of growth room to meet [Coca Cola’s] sustainability criteria”. As a result, the company is working with WWF towards a sugar certification scheme in Brazil.

    In the future, Vitters conceded that it’s not sustainable to “source only from Brazillian sugar cane. If PlantBottle takes off in the way he predicts, Coca-Cola will have to look elsewhere, as well as to other plants. Excessive demand could present supply problems as well as pushing sugar prices up – something, Vitters jokes, that “wouldn’t be a good career choice” for him.

    Wisely wary

    The clever polymer chemists in Coca-Cola’s labs have identified other potential feedstocks, but the company is wary about jumping in too fast.

    “We need to be very careful about expanding use of land at a time when we think agricultural environments for feeding a growing population are going to be essential”, says Vitters, who acknowledges the need to proceed “responsibly”..

    The US drinks giant is therefore looking to second-generation technologies focused on agricultural waste, such as switch grass, pine bark, corn husks and fruit peel.

    Even then, challenges still exist. Supply is one. Finding such agricultural bi-products in commercial volumes is no easy task. Land productivity represents another issue. In many parts of the world, agricultural waste is typically returned to the soil as a natural fertiliser.

    “Disruptive” though PlantBottle may be, it falls far from enabling Vitters to fulfil his sustainable packaging brief completely. Commercialising a plant-based solution for the terephthalic acid portion of PET would help considerably. But we still have to wait for 2020 until Coca-Cola bottles of all sizes boast the 22.5% plant content.

    Nagging at his mind as well must be the fact that Coca-Cola was recently thrown out of the prestigious Dow Jones Sustainability Index. More galling still, the Index praised Pepsi as a “supersector leader”.

    There’s a silver lining, though as Dow Jones did award Coca-Cola an “uptick” for its packaging and material sourcing – another reason Vitters’ Monday shouldn’t be too blue.

Battling the bottle- from the Inside

Aspen native battles the bottle — from the inside

Max Ben-Hamoo fights bottled water — with better bottlesStewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Aspen native Max Ben-Hamoo is the president of WorldLife Water, which has introduced water in a biodegradable bottle.Stewart Oksenhorn / The Aspen Times

ASPEN — As a kid growing up in Aspen, Max Ben-Hamoo was intensely interested in science; he went on to major in environmental science at the University of Denver. But as he got older Ben-Hamoo became more practical-minded, and after getting his bachelor’s degree, he changed directions and earned an MBA, also from the University of Denver.

“Once I realized how much more powerful business is than science, I wanted to combine my passion for the environment with some knowledge of business, and grow that,” the 25-year-old said.

Ben-Hamoo’s current career is a near-perfect reflection of the development of that sort of thinking. Where in his childhood, Ben-Hamoo disdained single-use bottles of water — “I gave my parents trouble when they got bottled water: ‘Get something you can refill,’” he said — he has adjusted his perspective and has joined the bottled-water business. But with a twist. WorldLife Water, the company which he serves as president, has introduced what Ben-Hamoo says is the first single-use water bottle to use completely biodegradable plastic. The bottles are manufactured by an Arizona company that treats the PET plastic with an additive that attracts microbes, thus speeding the decomposition of the material. (The bottles are also made without BPA, a plastic which Canada has banned as a toxic substance.)

WorldLife Water arrived on shelves two weeks ago at the Highlands Pizza Co., at Aspen Highlands. “I asked the guy there if he wanted it, and he said, ‘Yeah, looks great. I think people will love it,’” Ben-Hamoo said. “I think he understands people will want it.”

For the moment, Highlands Pizza is the only place to find WorldLife Water, but Ben-Hamoo believes retailers, especially in Colorado, will see things the way Highlands Pizza did: Customers who are attached to the convenience of bottled water will happily switch to a product that is relatively easy on the environment.

“It’s the conscious consumer we’re after, someone who will notice that biodegradable plastic is important for the future of our environment,” Ben-Hamoo said, adding that he is working on adding accounts in Aspen, where he visits frequently to see family, and Denver, where he now lives. “And Colorado is the best place for that — most people have a good understanding of that connection. We’re optimistic because we’ve gotten a great response from everyone we’ve shown it to. It’s like people were waiting for it. They feel bad about their bottled water habit, and this helps them do something about it.”

Ben-Hamoo said making a bottle biodegradable costs 70-80 percent more than a regular plastic bottle, but the added manufacturing expense results in only a slight increase in price for the customer. A 500-milliliter bottle of WorldLife, he said, will sell for between $1 and $2. The trick will be to get the big retailers who emphasize low prices to stock it.

WorldLife was founded two years ago by Kris Kalnow, a Cincinnati resident who has a house in Snowmass, and whose son, Chip, was a friend of Ben-Hamoo’s in college: “She founded the company, then quickly realized, while she wanted to keep it going, she didn’t want to be the one running it,” Ben-Hamoo said. “She knew my background and thought I’d be a good one to run it.”

Taking over the business has required some readjustment of his perspective. Now, instead of shouting out against bottled water — and seeing its use more than quadruple in his lifetime — Ben-Hamoo is on the inside, trying to make the product more environmentally palatable.

“I understand how much bottled water is out there; people are going to buy it,” he said. “If we can replace the standard market with this product, that’s better. It’s better for the earth.” (Ben-Hamoo added that the best thing that can be done with plastic bottles is to recycle them, but that, in practice, some 70 percent of bottles end up in landfills.)

Ben-Hamoo is currently the only employee of WorldLife. While he looks to line up some interns, he is handling sales, marketing, manufacturing, warehousing and accounting. And while he gains broad business experience, his curiosity about science hasn’t died. In the yard at his father’s house are buried several WorldLife bottles, so Ben-Hamoo can monitor for himself how quickly his product biodegrades.


Paper, Plastic and BPA

Don’t be intimidated by the below article, it may be long but it is quite a good read! Some great points are made but it wise to keep in mind that BPA is not found in all types of plastics and is never found in PET which is what plastic bottles are made of. The photo the article uses shows a plastic bottle but just remember that BPA is not found in PET bottles.Too often are people confused by all the misleading information out there on the web. Hope you enjoy the article! Please leave a comment below!

Paper and Plastic: When Political Ideology Trumps Sound Science


By Jon Entine Thursday, September 1, 2011

Scientific institutions around the world reject bans on BPA. So why are politicians imposing them?

Well-meaning laws sometimes backfire. That’s especially true when they are passed in reaction to media frenzies driven by ideology rather than science. And that’s what’s happening in the United States and Europe, where advocacy groups are raising new alarms about bisphenol A (aka BPA), a controversial plastic component used to prevent spoilage in myriad products, including containers, dental sealants, and epoxy linings.

On Tuesday, the California State Senate approved a ban on baby bottles and sippy cups that contain BPA, with the measure now going to the Assembly for a final vote. Set to take effect next July, the ban was approved despite the fact that no governmental science-based advisory board in the world has concluded that BPA is harmful.

But political systems often operate with limited information and short time horizons, while much of science is complex and evolving. Bowing to relentless campaigns, restrictions on BPA used in baby bottles have been imposed politically in 11 states and in a few countries, such as France and Canada.

In a sidestep around the science, activists are aggressively turning up the heat on legislators around the world. The latest uproar involves the presence of miniscule amounts of BPA on thermal paper receipts printed at supermarkets or ATMs, and on the money that comes in contact with them. The brouhaha has touched off a swirl of recent media coverage, much of it just plain wrong.

Thermal paper has a chemical coating, usually made in part with BPA, which colors when heated during the development process. Greenpeace Germany just released an analysis of receipts collected from eight European supermarket chains—that’s right, just eight. There was not even a façade of scientific controls. Seven had traces of BPA or a related chemical, bisphenol S (BPS). The European press exploded with stories of the alleged harm faced by consumers, and a prominent French legislator called on stores to abandon paper containing either chemical, or face a legislative ban.

Political systems often operate with limited information and short time horizons, while much of science is complex and evolving.

Greenpeace was copying a media stunt run last year by the Washington-based Environmental Working Group, which co-sponsored the California legislation. EWG tested 36 registers from around the United States, finding BPA on 29 of them. There was no pretense that this was a scientific study, but the survey generated more than a thousand news stories. That’s because conventional wisdom among many journalists is that BPA should be banned. Just last week, the Portland Oregonian declared, “BPA represents a health risk,” trashed “industry lobbyists” for scuttling a state bill that would have partially banned the chemical, and called for new restrictions.

In June, Connecticut became the first governmental body to ban thermal paper containing BPA. The ban is set to take effect in two years, assuming the Environmental Protection Agency identifies a safe, commercially available alternative, or in four years even if it doesn’t.

Are these votes based on good science? Why are politicians imposing bans on BPA, when regulators and scientific institutions around the world have carefully reviewed the entire body of evidence about the chemical and have opposed calls for bans?

Endocrine disruption brouhaha

Anti-ban campaigners often cite two well-known but often misunderstood facts: toxics sometimes pose dangers to pregnant women and newborns and BPA shows up in the urine of more than 90 percent of adults and children. How do these two facts fit together? Are prospective mothers and infants exposed to dangerous levels of BPA, as many media reports reflexively suggest? What does the weight of evidence show about the effects of BPA?

We know that BPA has an estrogenic effect and may subtly impact endocrine function. But so do a variety of foods, such as tofu and many nuts, to no ill effect. To put this in context, BPA is less potent than the naturally occurring estrogens in these foods and 10,000 to 100,000 times less potent than the synthetic estrogen in birth control pills.

The critical concern is whether BPA gets into our system in its bioactive form at a level that would have anything beyond a mild impact. As of 2008, the scientific jury was out on that question. Some environmental groups had heatedly contended that studies on BPA which indicated little or no effect were not even worth considering if industry was linked to the research in any way. They argued that the only reliable studies were those done at universities or by government scientists.

Over the past decade, a string of small-scale studies, widely promoted by chemophobic advocacy groups, has led to a popular but not a scientific consensus that BPA may be harmful.

It’s prudent to be aware of potential conflicts of interest when evaluating studies, but anti-BPA campaigners have created a strawman in the way they portray the research landscape. There have been thousands of studies on BPA, most of which are called “exploratory” research done primarily at universities. Many consist of laboratory animals exposed to BPA by injection (more sophisticated studies administer BPA orally to more accurately mimic how humans are exposed) at doses hundreds or thousands of times higher than what humans face. In many of these smaller-scale studies, animals have suffered developmental abnormalities. In contrast, the most comprehensive studies—many funded by industry, but by no means all—have shown little or no effects.

Over the past two years, in an attempt to close the knowledge and controversy gap, five prominent international regulators or toxicology organizations reviewed thousands of BPA studies—government, university, and industry.

•    In January 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, relying on extensive data from the National Toxicology Program, rejected tighter restrictions on BPA, raised questions about the contradictory findings in “novel” small-scale studies, stated BPA “is not proven to harm children or adults,” and reaffirmed that the most reliable studies to date support “the safety of current low levels of human exposure to BPA.”

•    In September 2010, the 21-member European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) science panel reviewed 800 studies over three years and rejected a ban or a lowering of threshold exposure limits, concluding in particular that the data did not support claims that BPA induced neurotoxic effects.

•    In November 2010, the World Health Organization expert review panel on BPA said it would be “premature” to regulate or ban the chemical.

•    In April 2011, an evaluation of thousands of BPA studies by the German Society of Toxicology concluded, “The available evidence indicates that BPA exposure represents no noteworthy risk to the health of the human population, including newborns and babies.”

•    In July 2011, two Japanese oversight agencies combined to produce an extensive update of BPA policy, responding to what they wrote is “a tremendous amount of new information on BPA with regard to human health.” Their conclusion: no reproductive toxic effects; no carcinogenicity; no concern for skin contact; and no evidence of adverse neurotoxic effects. “The risk of BPA with regards to human health was believed to be very small.”

What’s more, U.S. regulators under President Obama have moved aggressively to fund researchers at several government laboratories to address the frequently heard complaint that the more robust studies are “tainted” by industry connections. Their findings:

•    No developmental neurobehavioral effects from BPA

The National Toxicology Program had expressed concern about the possible neurological impact of BPA, which had shown up in some small-scale rodent studies. Two well-designed studies done at separate EPA and FDA labs found no evidence for neurobehavioral effects from exposure to BPA.

•    No developmental effects of BPA on male reproductive organs

Some small studies, but not others, have suggested that BPA might impair the development of the reproductive organs of rats. In a comprehensive study, the EPA tested this thesis, using a potent estrogen as a baseline comparison. No effects were found from BPA exposure, although the estrogen did result in adverse effects.

•    BPA is efficiently metabolized and rapidly eliminated, making it unlikely to cause health effects

There was no pretense that this was a scientific study, but the survey generated more than a thousand news stories.

It is important to determine whether BPA is bioactive in humans or relatively harmless (as the CDC has reported). A series of studies on monkeys and rats found it is efficiently metabolized not only in adults, but also in pregnant animals, newborns, and the fetus. The mother processes bioactive BPA, rendering it harmless. What about in humans? In June, scientists from the FDA, Centers for Disease Control, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory published a study that had tracked the blood and urine of volunteers who ate lots of canned food over a 24-hour period, which exposed them to high amounts of BPA. The result according to lead author Justin Teeguarden:

“Blood concentrations of the bioactive form of BPA throughout the day are below our ability to detect them, and orders of magnitude lower than those causing effects in rodents exposed to BPA. For me, the simple takeaway is that if blood concentrations of bioactive BPA are much lower than those in this sensitive animal model, effects in the general human population seem unlikely at best.”

•    Fetus is not significantly exposed to bioactive BPA after oral exposure to mother

Almost all the concern about BPA’s effects has been generated by studies of developing animals or in maternal and fetal fluids and tissues. The research so far has been contradictory and difficult to interpret. To address flaws in prior research, a team with the National Center for Toxicological Research released a study in July concluding that the fetus is not significantly exposed to unmetabolized BPA after oral exposure to the mother.

In sum, over the past decade, a string of small-scale studies, widely promoted by chemophobic advocacy groups, has led to a popular but not a scientific consensus that BPA may be harmful. Now, independent scientists carefully examining that thesis are finding it wanting. The latest research suggests BPA is unlikely to cause adverse health effects because the body efficiently metabolizes and eliminates it. Yet, remarkably, none of these studies—state-of-the-art independent and government-conducted—has received anything more than token notice.

The dearth of popular articles reporting on the latest trends in BPA studies has established an unvirtuous cycle. Because most opinion and health writers rely more on Google than on science papers when writing their stories, they end up regurgitating outdated and increasingly alarmist conclusions, hardening ideological lines. That brings us to the hysteria du jour, thermal paper.

Thermal paper

BPA is less potent than the naturally occurring estrogens in these foods and 10,000 to 100,000 times less potent than the synthetic estrogen in birth control pills.

As the scientific consensus on BPA’s endocrine effects has shifted from amber to a cautious green, advocacy groups are turning away from the science toward populist campaigns. Thermal paper receipts are the latest battleground. Consider a recent report by the Environmental Health News (EHN), which was founded by one of the progenitors of the now questionable “endocrine disruptor” thesis. “Money is Dirty” highlighted a new study that found BPA transferred from paper receipts in wallets to currency and often showed “considerably high amounts.” That grossly misstates what authors Chunyang Liao and Kurunthachalam Kannan conclude. “The estimated daily intake of BPA through dermal absorption from handling paper currencies was on the order of a few nanograms per day,” they wrote—an amount that “appears to be minor.” Rather than a cause for alarm, as EHN presents it, this study demonstrates that even when the “worst case” exposure is taken into account, BPA exposures from money are still 140-thousand-fold lower than doses considered safe by worldwide regulatory authorities.

EHN also referenced a 2010 study by Sandra Biedermann and colleagues claiming, “up to 27 percent [of BPA found on humans who handle thermal paper] can be transported to the bloodstream within two hours of dermal exposure.” That’s inaccurate. Biedermann actually concluded, “The experiments did not enable us to determine whether or not BPA passes through the skin into the human metabolism.” The estimated exposure was miniscule even for store clerks handling receipts all day—42 times lower than the exposure dose considered potentially harmful—a level which itself has a built-in safety buffer of at least 100 times.

While scientists believe the presence of BPA on thermal paper or paper money is a non-issue, from the media we get groupthink and the reckless use of words like “tainted.” A web search couldn’t find one article citing last year’s influential World Health Organization panel, which pointedly concluded that BPA found in receipts was of “minor relevance.” Nor was there mention of the thermal paper study released in June by the precaution-obsessed Danish Environmental Protection Agency. It concluded, “Risk assessment shows … receipts do not pose a risk to consumers or cashiers who handle the receipts.”

Caveat emptor

So what’s the big deal, you might ask? Why not placate public opinion and just switch from BPA-based paper even if there is no evidence it causes harm? There has already been a move away from BPA-based thermal receipts. Consumer-focused companies care more about what customers feel than what scientists know. In May, Kroger, the nation’s largest grocery chain, announced it would get rid of BPA in register tapes by the end of this year. Whole Foods and Yum! Brands, owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, followed suit. But for shoppers, the operating headline might be “naïve consumer beware.”

Appleton Papers, the nation’s largest thermal paper maker, has removed BPA from its products, but is instead using diphenyl sulfone, which is the chemical name for BPS. It claims: “There is little evidence that diphenyl sulfone [BPS] poses risks to human health.” But BPS has a very similar chemical structure to BPA. The company can’t have it both ways, alleging that BPA is harmful while the mildly estrogenic BPS used in its paper is totally safe.

BPS is one of 18 chemicals for use in thermal paper that the EPA is evaluating. Like other alternatives, its only real virtue at this point is that it has been less tested than BPA. That doesn’t mean it’s safer. BPA is readily biodegradable, which is important because chemicals in register paper end up in the recycle stream, in effluents. Bacteria naturally degrade traces released to the environment. BPS, on the other hand, is not readily biodegradable. Once paper with BPS gets to a recycling plant, it may be difficult to remove in the wastewater treatment system and more likely to be emitted.

Businesses that adopt an alternative are replacing an inexpensive, well-tested substance that has limited but identifiable risk (BPA) with a more expensive and untested chemical that has other yet unidentified health and environmental impacts.

Appleton also boasts that the “EPA … has identified bisphenol sulfone as a potentially acceptable substitute for BPA.” Well, no. The EPA rejects claims that substitute chemicals are safer than BPA, which it has not determined is unsafe. “We have no opinion on the alternatives we’ve identified,” said Cal Baier-Anderson of the EPA. Its recommendations are expected next year. “It’s unlikely that EPA is going to come out with the list of preferred chemicals,” she said, because hazard assessments like this one usually identify nothing more than a list of tradeoffs. “One alternative may not be a reproductive toxicant but it may be an acute aquatic toxicant.”

This is a classic case of unintended consequences. Businesses that adopt an alternative are replacing an inexpensive, well-tested substance that has limited but identifiable risk (BPA) with a more expensive and untested chemical that has other, yet unidentified, health and environmental impacts. They are throwing the toxic dice in order to appear green and avoid controversy. This is not a scientific-based response to consumer safety concerns but short-term thinking—cynical tactics in reaction to simplistic advocacy campaigns buttressed by lemming reporters.

But the science catches up in the end. There are no silver bullets in toxicology. Every chemical, including natural ones, has effects. More than likely, the EPA will not endorse an alternative, but it will simply allow each manufacturer to select a less-than-perfect printing solution.

There are lessons for the media and policy makers: (1) Journalists need to do their science homework and not remain vested in any one conclusion, no matter how ideologically attractive, and they must have the backbone to follow evolving evidence even if it leads to conclusions that contradict earlier reporting; and (2) Science, not Google postings, should drive legislation.

At its best, evidence-based science offers the opportunity to make sober regulatory decisions. At this stage in our scientific understanding, the various bans of BPA will cause more harm than good. Before a regulation is passed, it should undergo a cost-benefit evaluation to assess unintended consequences. That won’t prevent unforeseeable problems, but sometimes the wisest course of action is to do nothing.

Jon Entine is a visiting fellow at AEI and senior fellow at the Center for Health and Risk Communication at George Mason University and STATS.

FURTHER READING: Entine also writes “Milwaukee’s Best No Longer,” “A Toxic Setback for the Anti-Plastic Campaigners,” “Genetics and Health 2.0 vs. the Old Guard,” and “Toxic Alert:There’s a Killer, C8, Lurking in Your Kitchen, Says the Associated Press—Oops, Maybe Not!

Image by Rob Green | Bergman Group

ACC demands positive marketing towards plastic bags

Group alleges ACC influenced comments about plastics in Calif. curricula

Posted August 22, 2011

WASHINGTON (Aug. 22, 2:35 p.m. ET) — An investigative reporting team alleges that the American Chemistry Council pressured educational officials in California to revise a section of an environmental curriculum to present positive information about plastic shopping bags.

Washington-based ACC says the allegation “distorts and misrepresents” what took place during a public comment period.

The California EPA also issued a statement, saying that all revisions to the Education and Environment Initiative curriculum were made for “accuracy and educational value” and “thoroughly vetted.”

California Watch, a reporting initiative of the Center for Investigative Reporting, claims that Gerald Lieberman, a private consultant hired by California school officials, added a new section to the 11th-grade teachers’ edition textbook called “The Advantages of Plastic Shopping Bags,” with the title and some of the textbook language inserted almost verbatim from letters written by the chemistry council.

California Watch posted the report on its website on Aug. 19.

The group also alleges that Lieberman added a workbook section that asks students to list some advantages of plastic bag, and that the correct answer in the revised teachers’ edition is that “plastic shopping bags are very convenient to use. They take less energy to manufacture than paper bags, cost less to transport and can be reused.”

The claim by California Watch “distorts and misrepresents public process and the role the ACC played in it,” said Steve Russell, ACC’s vice president of plastics. “When CalEPA developed its curricula, the agency … posted an invitation [for public comment] on draft versions of the curricula.”

“We submitted comments in response to the state’s public solicitation for input,” Russell said. “The purpose of our comments was to correct factual inaccuracies and to present a more complete view of plastic bags’ environmental attributes, including their benefits, which were absent from the draft. Our comments, and those of all other stakeholders, were submitted via email and through an online form on CalEPA’s website.”

Lieberman is director of the State Education and Environment Roundtable, a nonprofit group developed by 16 state departments of education to enhance environmental education in schools. He declined to comment on his role in editing the textbook, and referred Plastics News to CalEPA, which defended the EEI curriculum.

“We stand by the integrity of the EEI Curriculum and the open and transparent process in which it was created,” said Lindsey VanLaningham, director of communications for CalEPA. “The curriculum was thoroughly vetted by all appropriate state agencies and was ultimately approved (unanimously) by the California State Board of Education.”

“Throughout the development process, the state made revisions to the curriculum based on two primary factors: (1) accuracy; and (2) educational value,” said VanLaningham. “Teacher feedback supports our belief that the EEI engages students on issues of vital importance to them and their environment, including the role of plastic in our society.”

Regardless, state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Santa Monica, author of the 2003 legislation that requires that environmental principles and concepts be taught in the state’s public schools, plans to write ask CalEPA officials to tweak the current text to remove language that portrays plastic bags in a favorable light.

The curriculum covers science, history, social studies and the arts, and weaves in environmental principles and concepts. It is currently being tested at 19 school districts that include 140 schools and more than 14,000 students. And an additional 400 school districts have signed up to use it, according to Cal-EPA.

In its letter to CalEPA dated Aug. 14, 2009, ACC said that it felt the lesson plan on Mass Production, Marketing and Consumption in the Roaring Twenties was “extensive in its inaccuracies and bias about plastic and plastic bags.

“The ACC takes exception to the overall tone, instructional approach and the lack of solutions offered — most especially, the lack of mention of the overall solution of plastic recycling,” wrote Alyson Thomas, a senior account executive with Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, who submitted the letter on behalf of ACC.

“We recommend that the list of concerns related to plastic bags be balanced with a measured response regarding efforts … to promote the recycling of plastic bags,” ACC said.

Plastic bags are referred to as “litter” in the text, ACC said. “To be clear, plastic bags don’t start as litter. They can become litter through behavioral actions leading to inappropriate disposal.”

The new text incorporated that view, as it now says that plastic bags “can become litter,” instead of calling them litter as the original version.

According to California Watch, the first teachers’ edition also had been highly critical of plastic shopping bags, noting the long decomposition rate of the bags and their threat to marine life and ocean health.

That information remains in the text, but a section on the benefits of plastic bags was added, after ACC made its comments.

“To counteract what is perceived as an exclusively negative positioning of plastic bags issues, we recommend adding a section entitled “Benefits of Plastic Shopping Bags,” ACC said in its letter.

It suggested that the text point out that plastic grocery bags require 70 percent less energy to manufacture than paper ones, that lightweight plastic bags save space and fuel in transport, and that paper bags are reusable, and also can be recycled and made into new plastic bags, and plastic lumber for decking, park benches and picnic tables.

“We recommend adding text referring to the second life of plastic products, and the increase in the recycling of plastic bags,” ACC said. “Recovered plastic bags and wraps can be recycled into many products, including backyard decking, fencing, railings, shopping carts and new bags.”

Better labeling for Bio plastics

This article discusses an array of trending concerns in the plastics  market, give it a read!

Waste Management World

Report Calls for Better Labeling of Bioplastics


The European Commission’s DG Environment’s news service, Science for Environment Policy, has published a new report which outlines a roadmap for environmentally-friendly plastic design and the development of biodegradable plastics, as well as policy options to maximise benefits.

With such an enormous volume of plastic product sold on the world’s markets, an inevitable knock on consequence is an equally huge volume of plastics entering the waste stream, or in some cases escaping the waste stream and entering the environment, said the report.

One particular concern raised was ‘plastic soup’, which exists in the world’s oceans and seas, containing everything from large abandoned fishing nets to plastic bottles, to miniscule particles.

However, according to the report, the redesign of plastic products, both at the scale of the individual polymer and in terms of the finished product’s design, could help alleviate some of the problems associated with plastic waste. The authors claimed that thoughtful development and redesign could have an impact at all levels of the hierarchy established by the European Waste Framework Directive: prevention, re-use, recycle, recovery and disposal.


U.S. Government Launches Waste Electronics Strategy

The U.S. government has launched its National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship, which provides recommendations on steps the Federal government, businesses and citizens can take toward tackling the problem of used electronics. It is to target the goals identified by President Obama, of protecting human health and the environment from the potentially harmful effects of the improper handling and disposal the almost 2.5 million tons (2.27 million tonnes) of used electronics that is discarded in the U.S each year.

The announcement also included the first voluntary commitments made by Dell, Sprint and Sony to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) industry partnership, aimed at promoting the environmentally sound management of used electronics.

According to the administration, the strategy will:

  • Promote the development of more efficient and sustainable electronic products
  • Direct Federal agencies to buy, use, reuse and recycle their electronics responsibly
  • Support recycling options and systems for American consumers
  • Strengthen America’s role in the international electronics stewardship arena.

Under the strategy, the EPA and the General Services Administration (GSA) will remove products that do not comply with energy efficiency or environmental performance standards – from the information technology purchase contracts used by Federal agencies, and will ensure that all electronics used by the Federal government are reused or recycled properly.


In addition, the GSA said that it will promote the development of new environmental performance standards for categories of electronic products not covered by current standards. Several Federal agencies will work together to identify methods for tracking used electronics in Federal agencies to move toward reuse and recycling.

Key components of this strategy include the use of certified recyclers, increasing safe and effective management and handling of used electronics in the United States and working with industry in a collaborative manner to achieve that goal. As a first step in this effort, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has signed a voluntary commitment with Dell Inc. CEO Michael Dell and Sprint CEO Dan Hesse to promote a U.S. based electronics recycling market. Representatives of Sony Electronics also committed to improving the safe management of used electronics.

According to the EPA, the collaboration with industry is aimed at encouraging businesses and consumers to recycle their electronics with certified recyclers, and for electronic recyclers to become certified. There are two existing domestic third-party certification recycling entities, R2 and E-Stewards, and the electronics recycling industry is increasingly embracing these programs.

“A robust electronics recycling industry in America would create new opportunities to efficiently and profitably address a growing pollution threat,” said Jackson.


John Shegerian, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Electronic Recyclers International (ERI) welcomed the announcement, and was encouraged to see the Federal government leading the way by establishing a policy to utilise only certified recyclers for its electronics processing, increase U.S. jobs, and reduce harm from U.S. exports of e-waste.

“As an R2 and e-Stewards certified company, ERI supports the safe handling and recycling of electronics here in the U.S. and abroad and looks forward to working with the Federal government in promoting scientific and technological developments to improve the electronics recycling process and maximise the recovery of valuable materials from discarded electronics,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Willie Cade, CEO, PC Rebuilders & Recyclers was also optimistic about the strategy’s potential to create jobs in the U.S.: “This will prove to be a very successful jobs creation and sustainability or ‘Green’ program…This is the first comprehensive sustainability strategy in our nation’s history,” he added.

Robin Wiener, president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) commented on the Federal government’s position as the largest source of used and end-of-life electronics, and its commitment to lead by example in ensuring that it is the nation’s “most responsible” consumer of electronics.

“We are encouraged by the Obama Administration’s flat dismissal of burdensome and overreaching legislation that would ban exports and pull the rug out from under an industry that continues to create jobs and contribute to both the U.S. and global economy,” he said.

in brief

U.S. Study to convert landfill gas to hydrogen

BMW has launched the first phase of a program to validate the economic and technical feasibility of converting landfill gas into hydrogen.

BMW’s manufacturing plant in South Carolina is using hydrogen fuel cells to power nearly 100 material handling vehicles. If this is successful, follow-up phases of the project will provide infrastructure to use hydrogen to fuel the company’s entire fleet of material handling equipment.

UK: Waste to Energy Facility Given Go-Ahead

A 269,000 tonne capacity waste to energy facility has been granted planning permission near Ipswich, UK. The Environment Agency has issued the necessary draft permit for the site – effectively giving SITA UK the green light to proceed. Building work is due to start later this year and the plant is expected to be operational by December 2014.

The 25-year contract will be awarded by Suffolk County Council.

GM and ABB Demonstrate Battery Re-Use

General Motors and ABB Group have offered a potential solution to the problem of what to do with the lithium-ion battery packs used in a growing number of electric and hybrid vehicles, as those vehicles reach the end of their lives.

According to GM, the battery packs used in its Chevrolet Volt will have up to 70% of life remaining after their automotive use is exhausted. Earlier this year, GM signed a definitive agreement with ABB Group, a power and automation specialist, to identify joint research and development projects that would reuse the Volt’s battery systems.

The partners claim to have demonstrated an energy storage system that combines electric vehicle battery technology and a grid-tied electric power inverter. The companies are building a prototype that could lead to battery packs storing energy, including wind and solar energy, and feeding it back to the grid.

The system could store electricity from the grid during times of low usage to be used during periods of peak demand, saving customers and utilities money. The battery packs could also be used as back-up power sources during outages and brownouts.

– Turn to page 41 to read a summary of the report ‘Recycling of Li-ion Batteries: Trends and Challenges of the Future.

Scrap Industry Worth $90 Billion to U.S. Economy

The economic and environmental impact of the scrap recycling industry in the U.S. has been highlighted in a report from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).

The study, undertaken by John Dunham and Associates and commissioned by ISRI looks at different kinds of economic activity such as jobs and exports, at the national, state and congressional district levels. According to ISRI, the economic analysis shows that the industry creates over 137,000 direct jobs, rising to more than 459,000 jobs when the wider economic impacts are taken into account. In addition, the industry generates $10.3 billion in tax revenues for governments across the U.S. as well as delivering environmental benefits.

The industry also generates significant export revenue for the U.S. The report claimed that approximately 34% of the scrap materials processed in the United States are exported to over 155 other countries for manufacture into new products. This generates nearly $30 billion in export sales, significantly helping the U.S. balance of trade.

The total economic activity generated by scrap recycling in the U.S. exceeds $90.6 billion, according to ISRI, making the industry similar in size to the nation’s forestry and fishing industries combined.

in brief

U.S. Investment in New E-Waste Facilities

Garb Oil & Power Corporation has formed a joint venture with ACG Consulting to build seven e-waste recycling facilities within the next three years, with the first planned to break ground in South Florida in March of 2012. Garb said that it intends to start work on a new e-waste recycling facility every four months thereafter, at various sites in the U.S.

Haiti: Recycling Enterprise Initiative Launched

A ‘cash for recyclables’ program has been launched in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The social enterprise project – Ramase Lajan – which means ‘picking up money,’ will expand the collection of plastics to create permanent jobs through a network of independently owned and operated neighbourhood collection centres. The initiative has been launched by Executives Without Borders, in partnership with CSS International Holdings and Haiti Recycling.

UK Wood Waste Down as Demand Rises

Largely due to reduced activity in the construction industry, wood waste arisings in the UK have fallen by 10% since 2007, according to the Waste & Resources Action Programme’s (WRAP) recently published Wood Market Situation Report.

Arisings from the construction industry showed a 13% decrease, while arisings from the furniture and joinery sectors fell by 23% and total arising fell from 4.5 million tonnes to 4.1 million tonnes between 2007 and 2010.

However, WRAP said that an increase in the amount of wood waste being used in the biomass sector has more than doubled over the same period to 500,000 tonnes in 2010. The total amount of wood waste recycled or used in energy recovery in the UK increased to 2.3 million tonnes in 2010 – more than half of all wood waste arisings. Exported wood waste has also increased, rising to almost 200,000 tonnes in 2010.

A combination of these factors has been reflected in lower gate fees for wood recyclers since early 2009. The report claimed that while recovered wood arisings are likely to grow gradually as the economy recovers, rising demand may put further downward pressure on gate fees.

Growing demand and falling supply have led to lower gate fees Credit: WRAP

Marcus Gover, director of the Closed Loop Economy at WRAP, said: “It’s easy to put the decrease in wood waste arising down to a reduction in construction activity during the recent economic downturn, but it’s also important to note that the construction industry – one of the biggest contributors to wood waste arising – has also taken proactive steps to reduce the amount of wood they send to landfill.”

According to WRAP, the introduction of site waste management plans in April 2008 requires construction companies to plan, monitor and measure the waste generated on site, as well as industry commitments such as Halving Waste to Landfill, launched by WRAP in 2008, have also had an impact.

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