Squeezing New Life from Beverage Cartons

Wes Muir | Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments


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By Wes Muir, Director, Communications, Waste Management
Chew on this: nearly every breakfast table in the country holds a carton of orange juice or milk each morning. While we’re well aware that these beverages help us maintain a healthy and balanced diet, it’s easily overlooked that the milk and juice cartons we use can also help maintain a healthy and balanced environment. These cartons are largely made of paper that consumers can recycle, and giving these products a second life reduces the strain they put on the environment if they are merely put to waste.
Until very recently, milk and juice carton recycling received little attention, with only certain municipalities offering carton recycling services. Even information about recycling the more than 510,000,000 milk cartons used in the U.S. (a 2006 statistic from the National Recycling Coalition) was fairly unavailable. The EPA has general statistics about paper recycling, including the paperboard that makes up typical cartons. However, as one eco-conscious blogger noted in June 2008:

That got me thinking. How many milk cartons does my household go through over a short period of time, say a week? More importantly, why are milk cartons not recycled? They are made of paper aren’t they? Even more puzzling is the fact that on the side of some of the cartons I buy, it says “please recycle”. I want to, but my town will not take them. So I decided to do some research on how to recycle a milk carton, and why my town won’t do it. I thought the information would be readily available. I was wrong.

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Is there a Moore’s Law for Solar Cells?

| Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments

solar_panels_panelled_house_roof_array.jpgIn 1965 Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, wrote a paper on a phenomenon he noticed in the transistor industry: the number of transistors that could fit on an integrated circuit, or microchip, doubled about every two years, leading to exponential growth in speed and power. This rule of thumb, now known as Moore’s Law, has been remarkably resilient in the decades since.
In a recent article for Greentech Media, Michael Kanellos explores the possibility that increased efficiencies in manufacturing, combined with a growing flood of research, both private and public, could generate a version of Moore’s Law for photovoltaics (solar cells).

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Bush-era Smog Rule Bites the Dust

| Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments


Many legal experts are working diligently to put the Bush administration’s smog regulations, well, up in smoke. A federal appeals court (a three-judge panel of DC’s Court of Appeals) determined Friday to overturn a Bush administration rule controlling smog-forming industrial emissions. The panel ruled that the rule was inconsistent with the Clean Air Act, which defines the EPA’s responsibilities for defending and advancing the nation’s ozone layer and air quality.

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Kendall-Jackson: Seeing Green from New GE Lighting

| Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact
Energy efficiency is one of those low hanging fruits that is ripe to be picked. For Kendall-Jackson Winery, reducing expenses from lighting just made good business sense. It might not seem very sexy, but they expect to see the benefits of their new energy-efficient lighting solution for years to come.
According to the press release, “The California winery aims to save more than $100,000 annually in energy and maintenance costs as a result of an energy efficiency program that features innovative new lighting from GE Consumer & Industrial.”
Unfortunately, the press release does not detail what their upfront investment was nor what the pay back period will be.

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Starting a Green Business in Costa Rica

Scott Cooney | Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 1 Comment

bamboostudio.jpgStarting a green business, one that is environmentally-friendly, socially responsible, and economically sustainable, is one of the most gratifying experiences a person may have in their lives. Many people dream of the day when they can become their own boss and live their dream doing something they love, something that’s good for the planet, and something that will sustain them economically. Many more people dream of the day that they can live in paradise, where tropical birds sing every morning in your backyard, avocados and mangoes grow (literally) on trees, and they watch brilliant sunsets over the beach every night. Sofiah Thom dreamt of combining these dreams, and set up shop in Costa Rica to do just that.
Thom settled into Dominical, Costa Rica, two years ago and began work on her dream green business, a yoga studio and health retreat founded on the principles of bamboo. After a quick search on BetterWorldBooks.com, I found that the title “Principles of Bamboo” has not yet been written. If it sounds a strange topic for a book, you haven’t yet heard Thom’s metaphor for bamboo in her business.

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Finch Paper Launches Forest Management Service

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments

256px-Long_Pond_-_St_Regis.jpgFinch Paper LLC formed a forest management company last month called Finch Forest Management. The foresters will provide consulting forestry services to clients, and have Society of American Foresters’ Certified Forester credentials. They assist landowners who want to achieve third-party certification.
Finch foresters will prepare long-term management plans for its clients, which will include responsible timber harvesting, and identifying opportunities for forest owners to lease their lands for activities that will not negatively impact the forest. The foresters will help owners earn management certifications from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

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Singtex Produces Fabric from Waste Coffee Grounds

| Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Singtex Industrial Co., a Taiwanese fabric producer, has embraced the sustainable fabric craze, but with a caffeinated twist: recycled coffee grounds. The company’s S. Cafe material uses fibers from grounds to purportedly produce a fabric that is quick-drying, controls odors, and protects wearers from harmful UV rays.

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Cap and Trade for Fish?

| Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 1 Comment

codhead.jpgWhile Congress debates the value of cap-and-trade for carbon emissions, fishermen around the US and the globe have already implemented various cap-and-trade schemes to prevent depletion of fish stocks.
This summer, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration established a task force to accelerate development of cap and trade policies (which NOAA calls “catch share”) in US fisheries.

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AAA: Promoting Highway Safety and… Eco-Travel?

| Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Soon, a Google search for “green travel guides” may produce an unexpected result: AAA. Although it’s among the nation’s leading travel coordinators, the company may not be the first to come to mind when one thinks of sustainability. In upcoming TourBook editions, however, AAA will include “eco friendly” in its list of offerings, designating properties that promote environmental and energy conservation as “green” with an “eco” icon. To think I only associated AAA with my car breaking down….

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“Father” of GM’s Chevy Volt Leaves Retirement to Rejoin Workforce

| Monday July 13th, 2009 | 0 Comments

bob-lutz-GM.jpgMore than just General Motors’ finances have emerged from decline this week. The company’s heavy-hitting product promoter, Bob Lutz, re-joined the workforce after retiring just a few months ago. Lutz was the “father” – the driving promotional force – of the GM Chevy Volt, GM’s first extended-range electric vehicle, by which the company hopes to compete with rivals with hybrid models. (The Chevy Volt is scheduled for release in 2010.) Lutz has the product development and promotion skills necessary, some suggest, to sell vehicles to skittish and cash-strapped consumers.

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Why Google Chrome OS Is Good for Business and the Environment

Andy Greene | Monday July 13th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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In case you haven’t heard, Google has decided to challenge the 800 pound gorilla in the computer world, Microsoft. With the announcement of the Google operating system called Chrome OS, Google looks to turn the technology world on its head.
What does this mean for business and the planet itself? More than you may think.
Netbook Compatibility
One of the main advantages of Chrome OS is that it is made to work with netbooks (those cool little laptops that use minimal power). Microsoft XP and Vista were not meant for netbooks, so this leads to sluggish performance and strange errors. There has been much hype about how netbooks will change how businesses and individuals interact with computers. Without an efficient operating system, many businesses do not see the benefit of switching to netbooks. Now that Chrome OS is raising the bar on OS performance, you can expect a competitive response from Microsoft. In the end, this will benefit the consumer. Microsoft has controlled the OS market for almost twenty years now and this new found competition will benefit computers users worldwide.

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Greenwash Alert: Lucky Supermarkets Announce Indoor Farmers Markets

| Monday July 13th, 2009 | 8 Comments

Lucky%20Supermarket.jpg As I listened to the radio yesterday evening, enjoying the warm summer evening in my suburban Bay Area neighborhood, an interest commercial came on, nestled somewhere in between the ad for the cell phone carriers and the dating website. Lucky Supermarkets, a Northern California entity of the Save Mart chain, will now feature indoor farmers markets in select locations.
The commercial took the form of two country folk talking about what it was like to be indoors, following the assumption that neither had ever actually been indoors before. Aside from the questionable production value of the ad itself, it made me think about what the supermarket chain was really offering.
Fresh, local, and sometimes organic produce… great. It’s wonderful that a supermarket chain that caters to the bargain shopper would want to promote local farmers and fresh and organic produce. But–and this is a fairly large but–how will this be different from the normal produce section? More importantly, why don’t they just make the items offered at the farmers market the normal produce section itself? This, unfortunately, seems to be yet another moment of wanting to capitalize on the green, organic craze rather than a more sincere attempt to provide a better, more meaningful product to its consumers. Better luck next time Lucky…

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How Incentives Help Commercial Building Retrofits

| Monday July 13th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Rising electricity prices, climate change and a sagging economy are driving public and private institutions to focus on energy efficiency in the built environment. Before the economy soured, the focus was on constructing high performance buildings, but after lending dried up, a renewed interest emerged in improving energy consumption in our aging infrastructure through retrofits.
The fact is that over 80 percent of our existing commercial building stock will still be standing 10-15 years from now. Smart building technologies geared towards the retrofit market promise substantial energy savings. These technologies, coupled with targeted federal incentives, could mean a fundamental shift in the way our buildings use energy.

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How to Avoid Cash Flow Problems When Implementing Eco-Upgrades

3p Contributor | Monday July 13th, 2009 | 4 Comments

By Eric Cohen of Padosa.com: Helping Small Companies Get Green

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There is an assumption among sustainability vendors that a project with a short payback – under a year – is sure to get signed off on. I think this is a realistic expectation for a big company who is concerned with sustainability. I don’t think it is realistic for a small company, under $50M in revenue.
I have had a number of vendors propose sustainability projects – lighting, transformers, supply chain, etc. – to small companies that lacked a green strategy. These projects:
1) Had short paybacks of no more than 2 years, and often under a year
2) Were visible projects that would earn the company some green credibility
3) Were relatively easy to implement
Despite these benefits, it is difficult to get small companies to approve these projects unless they have a sustainability strategy in place. What is the hesitation? It is all about cashflow. Regardless of payback, a $40,000 lighting project still requires an investment of $40,000 out of what is likely a difficult cash situation. These companies need to use their cash to fund growth and a lighting upgrade won’t do that.

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Wine Tastings, Crab Cakes and Great Scenery – Is This Why Amtrak Is Rising?

Scott Cooney | Monday July 13th, 2009 | 3 Comments

coaststarlight.jpgAmtrak, the nation’s passenger rail system, has been declared dead so many times, it must feel like the characters in Monty Python’s SPAM-A-LOT musical. Amtrak’s been an easy punching bag for politicians railing (yes, pun intended) against federal programs that don’t pay for themselves.
But the last few years have seen big increases in ridership for Amtrak, begging the question: Is Amtrak finally on its way to self-sufficiency? With a much more efficient method for transporting passengers than aviation, does passenger rail get a boost from the coming legislation on climate change?
As a writer dedicated to getting out in the field and conducting research, I decided to hop a ride on the Coast Starlight train from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area to see what the nation’s renewed interest in Amtrak was all about.

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