Destiny

4 05 2009

Appropriately named, the city just south of Orlando Florida, called Destiny, is poised to become America’s first environmentally-sustainable city.

Destiny, Fl

Destiny, Fl

The city would span 61,000 acres in central Florida, keeping 25,000 acres as open space. The development project would only build residential buildings on land that has been exhausted by citrus groves and can no longer sustain agriculture.

Destiny is still in its early stages. The first phase includes constructing a “Research and Development Campus housing a Technology Incubator, Distribution Center, and an Academic Village and Training Center” on a 500-acre plot..

Eco-Sustainability

Eco-Sustainability

Eventually, city developers of Destiny like Randy Johnson, plan to harvest sorghum and jatropha plants to make biofuels. More ideas, such as using pyrolysis (burning organic matter to speed up decomposition), gasification and other “waste-to-energy” facilities like converting methane into energy for turbines, are in the works.

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Bottle Bill Approved!

1 03 2009

Last Thursday, February 26, the bottle bill in Connecticut was expanded to include a $.05 deposit on plastic water bottles! The idea to expand the bottle bill has been around for a few years, but was seriously considered only recently because it could potentially generate much-needed revenue for the state.

Senator Meyer and Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams

Senator Meyer and Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams

In theory, the bill will produce revenue because many people don’t bother to return their recyclables for the deposit. In this case the state collects the unclaimed deposits.





Plastic Bags From Corn

16 02 2009

Plastic grocery bags that are 100 percent biodegradable exist, so why aren’t they used in stores? Some American stores like City Market use these bags, but why aren’t more?

Biodegradable Plastics

Biodegradable Plastics

The brand of plastic bags called BioBags uses a bio-polymer instead of polyethylene to make plastic. Essentially, this means the bags are made from corn.

BioBag

BioBag

These two articles, one from India and one from Guam show that the U.S. is far behind in utilizing biodegradable technology. One debate, which recently took place in Virgina, was over bills that proposed the banning of thin plastic bags in favor of thicker bags with durable handles to encourage re-use. The bills were denied by both the state House and Senate. While I don’t think this is the way to go with plastic bags, at least the U.S. is starting to recognize the problem.





Where Have All The Plastics Gone?

11 02 2009

With the recent economic downturn, recyclable materials (plastics, cardboard and scrap metal) are not being purchased by waste manufacturers. The price and demand for these products has severely dropped, so many waste organizations are left with growing piles of paper, plastic and metals.

Mixed Paper Stored in Massachusetts Facility

Mixed Paper Stored in Massachusetts Facility

By December 2008, the term “the trash has crashed” was printed in The New York Times, detailing the dropped price of recyclables. For instance, by the end of 2008 the price of mixed paper on the West coast was about $20-$25 per ton, even though the same amount sold for about $105 only a month before. Also, the price of tin dropped 98% over the course of 2008.

Recycling Scrap Metal in China

Recycling Scrap Metal in China

It used to be that China would buy plastics and scrap metal the U.S. did not accept for recycling (usually plastic containers numbered three, four, five and six) to make goods like toys, car parts and kitchen ware. But since the entire world is feeling the economic pinch, little is being manufactured, because no one is buying.

So where have all the plastics, metals and paper gone? I hope they are in storage somewhere in the U.S., however, storage does get expensive. A recycling operator in Candia, N.H. explained his dilemma, “We’re just trying to stockpile everything. When we get to the point where we don’t have storage anymore here or in our trailers, we have to get rid of it.” However, he said the “getting rid of it” does not mean burying the recyclables in a landfill, because it’s actually cheaper, as of now, to “hoard” the materials.

Mixed Paper Held in Massachusetts

Mixed Paper Held in Massachusetts

Whole Foods has implemented a new plastics drive to help the U.S. properly dispose of it’s reusable, number five plastics.

Whole Foods

Whole Foods

Nearly 80 stores in the Midwest, Northeast and Northern California are piloting “Gimme 5,” a recycling program powered by Preserve, a manufacturer of 100% recycled home products. Participating stores collect number five plastics from shoppers and ship them to Preserve’s manufacturing plant, where the materials are used to make household products such as toothbrushes and kitchenware.

Where do you think recyclables should go?





Water, Water Everywhere, and Finally Refundable?

5 02 2009

As of now, Maine is the only state to offer a bottle deposit for all containers except milk and cider, but perhaps that is soon changing. On Feb. 4, Governor M. Jodi Rell of Connecticut proposed, as part of her state budget, to make plastic water bottles refundable.

Listen toRell’s Water Bottle Deposit Plan here.

Adding a 5 cent bottle return on water bottles would, “add $12.1 million in new revenue to the state annually,” Rell said.

Because drinking bottled water has become trendy in recent years, making the plastic containers refundable in extremely necessary. Since water bottles first grew in popularity around 2000, they have been plaguing landfills ever since.

In 2006 U.S. citizens consumed the most bottled worldwide at 8,254 gallons of bottled water, with Mexico in a far-from-second place at 5,360 gallons. This is ironic because much of the tap water in the U.S. is perfectly safe to drink and it usually tastes no different than it’s trendy, bottled, identical twin. Where does bottled water come from…no surprise, a tap!

Water Bottles in Landfill

Water Bottles in Landfill

This refund idea is not new in Connecticut. In, fact the idea of making all plastic drink bottles refundable was approved in the Connecticut Senate in 2007, but later rejected in the House.

Though recently CT representatives have been scrambling to dig up money where ever they can in light of the astronomical state deficit, and bottle deposits was one idea. Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr. said it nicely, “While this is not a new proposal, I believe there is a new sense of urgency for an expanded bottle bill that will improve Connecticut’s environment and its budget.”

Connecticut is only one of 11 states that offer bottle deposits. With a struggling economy and growing landfills, why don’t more states hop on the recycling band wagon? In this age, plastic = money and it’s time to cash in.