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Posts Tagged ‘recycling’

SpiroFlo discusses reusing food for animals, creating compost, and the joy of exploding watermelons.  

Why did nobody ever tell me that you can be sustainable by launching rotten watermelons from the back of a pickup truck?

I recently visited my in-laws close to Durango, Colorado (near the New Mexico border). As they have a small farm out back of their house, all those animals need feeding. This includes the dogs, goats, pigs, peacocks, chickens, horses, and the cats with extra toes, missing eyes, and country music star names. One of the ways to feed all these mouths is with the help of the local food bank.

If you didn’t know, the U.S. throws a lot of food away. Some of it has nothing wrong with it (more on that food waste another time), but as the donations the food bank receives are already a little past their “best” date, inevitably, some of it is too far gone for human consumption. But you know who doesn’t care? Pigs and chickens.

So this happens:

farmfood1

Basically, the food bank now leaves all this expired grub out for pick up. The in-laws grab all this food, load it in their back of their truck, then drive it home. After reversing the truck into the yard, you get to launch this food all over. We’re talking fruit, veggies, bread, etc. Lobbing watermelons across the yard is, of course, the best part. Even almost accidentally splooshed a peacock with one (I did pelt a pig while wildly machinegunning rolls—didn’t seem phased). Finally, you get the tractor and push all this food into a giant dirt mountain.

By doing so:

  • Food doesn’t go to waste
  • The chickens have something to do the next few days (wandering around the dirt mound, pecking for food), so they don’t peck each other; and
  • Any food left in the dirt mound becomes compost

Oh, and that giant food mess in the yard? It’s eaten up in less than 24 hours (save the mountain of relish I dumped out from a giant jar—apparently even chickens have standards about that).

Thus it’s official: Using expired food for farm animals is my recycling happy place.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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SpiroFlo shares on Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni’s cardboard bike: the Alfa.  

When I heard Izhar Gafni had designed a cardboard bike, the first image I had in my head was that of a bike on fire—because let’s face it: setting stuff on fire always pops up first—then that of a bike warping in the rain. Well, turns out Gafni thought of that, as the bike is both fire- and waterproof.

Dubbed “the Alfa,” Gafni spent three years perfecting the design. First off, he needed to make it functional. In the same way that paper folded over several times can be quite strong, the bike—made mostly of cardboard folded over repeatedly—can hold up to 485 pounds. After getting basic functionality out of the way, Gafni needed to improve the bike’s looks, as early designs looked like a cardboard box on wheels. Finally, some comfort tweaks were clearly in order, as a cardboard seat doesn’t sound appealing at first thought.

With the design basics out the way, Gafni is now looking towards mass production. Depending on subsidies—and you know what a mess that can be—initial estimates could put the sales price as low as $9. If it does go big, I expect some parent to threaten their kid with, “Mouth off to me again and I shove your bike in a wood chipper.”

For now, you can learn more about the Alfa bike by watching the video below:

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Ecotechnology, Ltd. (Ecotech Systems) reports on a generator that can convert urine to electricity.

By Turbotorque (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsWhile I don’t mean to make a lot of Ecotech posts about bodily functions (see here, here and here), as the non-thermal drying of biosolids is one of our key markets, that type of green slant gets placed in this area.

Also, while I still hope that one day I’ll be able to pee out a valuable fuel—minus the unfortunate side effects of a burning sensation and the likelihood of setting a toilet on fire once every three months—someone’s out there bridging the gap:

Today’s step of progress: Four African high school girls have developed a generator that turns a liter of urine into six hours of electricity.

Technology journalist Emil Protalinski broke down the process (source):

  • Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which cracks the urea into nitrogen, water, and hydrogen.
  • The hydrogen goes into a water filter for purification, which then gets pushed into the gas cylinder.
  • The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas.
  • This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator.

When asked for comment by NBC News, Gerardine Botte, the chemical engineer who invented the process, stated, “What these kids are doing is taking urea electrolysis and making hydrogen and then using that hydrogen to make electricity.” Although Botte said that the project is “empowering” for the students, she also swatted down some of the fanaticism over the project, stating, “It is a high school project, so don’t take it (so seriously).”

That’s the thing: Often times the green community is willing to excessively root for something before it’s had any real mass implementation. Throw in a couple of underdog factors like youth and it coming from a third world country—or really from anyone save big bad corporations in the western world—and some will cheer it more. Additionally, the details are a little slim as to what exactly gets fueled for six hours.

Here’s what we do know: Like biosolids, this human waste is a worldwide problem. Unlike biosolids, it gets somewhat of a free pass on the yuck factor. Regardless, this is a creative solution that—barring the impending doom of the apocalypse—will have raw material available. The biggest gimme is the wastewater treatment plants themselves. They’re already getting too much fuel delivered to them already; they should convert it to power their own facility.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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SpiroFlo looks at Sweden’s success in recycling and how that success has created a shortfall of trash for burnable waste.

Sweden: Land of neutral diplomacy, equal pay, and the top recyclers on earth (though it turns out that bit about them all being blonde haired and blue eyed is a myth).

While the rest of Europe wastes an average of 38% of their household trash in landfills, Sweden wastes only 4%, instead recycling or composting most of it. When that doesn’t happen, they also have high standards for their Waste-to-Energy program, where they burn trash to provide 20% of their district heating and electricity to 250,000 homes.

There’s just one problem: Sweden ran out of trash.

Sure, people are throwing things away every day, but Sweden is far enough behind that they’re importing trash from other countries. They’re looking for 800,000 tons a year from Europe. Right now, most of that comes from Norway; though Sweden is already eyeballing glorious trash piles in Bulgaria, Italy and Romania.

As much as I’d like to set up a catapult to fling trash at other countries, there are far more logical rules and tradeoffs:

  • For Norway, exporting their excess trash is cheaper than burning it (and landills are running out of space).
  • For Sweden, they get to return the toxic waste ashes (and the harder-to-treat-yet-easy-to-pollute dioxins) to Norway, thereby remaining all the more sparkly and clean.

Dioxins are nasty business (Agent Orange contained dioxins). Highly toxic, they’re established as a carcinogen that can mess with tooth and sexual development.

Yeah, not so sure if that trade is so great now…

However, some have already figured out that as the world continues to improve its recycling, the laws of supply and demand could push the value of trash up:

“Earlier this year, Catarina Ostlund, a senior advisor for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, said that in the future, waste will be valued even more. ‘Maybe you could sell your waste because there will be a shortage of resources within the world,’ Ostlund said.”

As of 2010, the U.S. only recycled 34.1% of its trash. I’ll see you at the catapult.

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SpiroFlo wishes you all a happy Thanksgiving.

Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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SpiroFlo looks at a recent journal that suggests those who live alone waste far more than those who live with others.

By Celiafung (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsIn today’s obvious news: Living alone is worse for the environment than if you live with 4+ people.

According to Environment, Development and Sustainability research,  in households of four or more people, each person produces 2,200 pounds of  waste annually, compared to 3,500 pounds of annual waste from those living alone. In addition, those living alone consume 38% more products, 42% more packaging, 55% more electricity and 61% more gas per capita than  four-person households.

It makes sense: When you live with others, you share your home, light bulbs, heating, etc. I’ll also assume that houses with four or more people involve more spouses (who share driving and energy/waste responsibilities) and kids (who don’t drive and have their waste/energy managed to a degree). I’ll also assume that those living alone are adults who have no one to share their waste/energy use and view convenience (not conservation) as a premium.

Also, when you live with others, they’ll shame you out of certain activities. No, you won’t eat that entire carton of ice cream. No, you won’t take apart your bike and roast a pig on the living room floor. No, you won’t watch “Weekend at Bernie’s 2.” And so on and so forth (all the way down to environmental issues). Caring what other people think has its perks.

Inevitably, it’s still going to depend on the people involved. A single person from the hardcore green crowd will be less wasteful than a guy with 16 brothers who’s got a predilection for gas guzzlers and nuclear weaponry. Maybe that will get a follow-up article.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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SpiroFlo looks at elementary kids in California who want Crayola to take back and recycle their used markers. 

Although it seems like many have gotten the memo to not use kids to heavily push their agenda, the hardcore green crowd still seems set on convincing families from the youngest on up. So when I came across this story about a “Green Team” of students from Sun Valley elementary school in San Rafael, California, petitioning Crayola to take back and recycle used markers, it was impossible not to hear the grown up agenda put into the kids’ mouths.

According to the online petition, the kids are “asking Crayola to make sure these markers don’t end up in our landfills, incinerators and oceans.”

Now you tell me, when was the last time you heard an elementary kid casually throw around the term “incinerators”? What I can believe is many of the kids saying that they like markers, but they don’t like the idea of hurting Earth.

Although the kids are (as of this date) close to nailing their goal of 75,000 signatures, according to MSNBC, Crayola has already stated that it is unlikely to change:

Crayola acknowledged the good intentions but said that, for now at least, there’s no practical way to take back and recycle entire markers.

“We value and encourage children to share their ideas and appreciate the suggestion that the students of Sun Valley brought to our attention,” Crayola spokeswoman Stacy Gabrielle told msnbc.com. “At this time, we do not have the facilities or a process that will enable us to offer a take back program.”

In describing Crayola’s environmental initiatives, Gabrielle did note that the caps on each marker can be recycled at centers that take polypropylene, one of the least recyclable plastics.

Inevitably, there is actually a legitimate issue buried beneath the kid manipulation tactics: Crayola makes 500 million markers each year — enough to circle (and perhaps doodle) the earth three times over. That’s an awful lot of waste from a product that is only partially recyclable as is.

I still don’t see this elementary school Green Team boycotting Crayola any time soon. Maybe by the time they get to middle school, Xcel Energy will have stopped exaggerating their savings numbers in their LivingWise kit, too, but I’m not holding my breath.

As for the Crayola issue, here’s the students video (I’ll admit my jealousy over the one girl’s birthday hat):

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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SpiroFlo looks at a video on bottled water from the Story of Stuff Project (providing information “about the way we make, use and throw away Stuff”).

This video starts off obnoxiously heavy-handed, but it’s amusing and informative, especially on the notion of manufactured demand for bottled water. Try not to get distracted by Annie Leonard‘s nonstop hands:

 

Thoughts:

  1. Although I’ve mentioned how 80-90% of bottles from bottled water are thrown away (since they actually shouldn’t be reused), the point about the mountains of water bottles in India is quite damning.
  2. Can’t say I’ve ever been “seduced” by a mountain stream, but I get what she’s saying about bottled water ads pretending that bottled water has flowed down like liquid manna from God. (I once met a successful advertising executive who said the key to marketing is to make people feel dissatisfied.) The bogus statements from Nestle and PepsiCo don’t help. That said, I still don’t see people spitting out bottled water like the cartoon characters do.
  3. Investing in public infrastructure is an interesting thought, but many recognize how bloated their spending is, too.
  4. And then, of course, since environmentalists often can’t make a fair point with any form of subtlety, this gem comes out towards the end:  “Carrying bottled water is on its way to being as cool as smoking while pregnant.”

Ugh. Sometimes there’s a reason why it’s only the choir you’re preaching to.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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