Pollution prevention

What we can learn from Denmark’s near-zero-waste wonder

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This article first appeared at Ensia.

When we look closely at systems in nature — coral reefs or rainforests, for instance — we see something we don’t often see in human systems: mutually beneficial relationships and energy flows among the various elements, such as air, water, rocks, soil, and plant and animal life. If we emulate these relationships in our cities and in our industrial infrastructure, we can vastly improve the sustainability of natural resources and energy use.

That’s exactly what the municipality of Kalundborg, 64 miles west of Copenhagen, is doing. In fact, for over 50 years, Kalundborg has been home to the first — and still the most advanced — example of this concept: the Kalundborg Symbiosis. Anchored originally by a power and district heating plant, this innovative industrial complex has grown to include some large and profitable enterprises, including the biggest oil refinery in the Baltic Region; an insulin-producing plant with 2,700 employees; factories making enzymes for use in everything from bioenergy to textiles, and gypsum for lightweight building materials; and the largest sewage treatment plant in northern Europe. Heat, water and a host of other resources that would otherwise be treated as waste supply some of the energy and many of the feedstocks to these operations and to the surrounding municipality, including farms.

DuPont and GM’s lessons for closing in on zero waste

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Every time something in your company’s production cycle gets thrown into a trash can and ends up in a landfill, you throw out some money.

A landfill-free strategy is too costly, too challenging, and too hard to implement, you say? Check out how the experts featured in Greenbiz’s recent webcast “Innovative Approaches to Recycling and Waste Reduction” did it.

New Web Series Highlights Pollution Prevention Accomplishments

Via EPA’s Greenversations Blog.

For many toxic chemicals and industry sectors, reported TRI releases have trended downward considerably in recent years.  In such cases, TRI’s Pollution Prevention (P2) Search Tool is a great resource for identifying the P2 activities or other environmentally-friendly practices that have contributed.

To spur discussion of these practices, we looked at how the metals industry reduced their use, waste generation, and releases of a recognized carcinogen (trichloroethylene). We examined the P2 information that fabricated metals facilities submitted to the Toxics Release Inventory, and also followed up with one of the facilities with the largest reductions to find out more about what they did.

Check out our findings in our first P2 Accomplishments Bulletin and let us know what you think. Should EPA offer more of these analyses? Which other chemicals and sectors are worth highlighting from the standpoint of P2?

New York State Pollution Prevention Institute awards $455,000 in research and development projects

The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) has awarded approximately $455,000 to fund six research and development projects focused on applied research designed to stimulate solutions that will help New York state companies remain competitive while reducing their environmental footprint.

As part of its ongoing research and development program, NYSP2I annually solicits proposals from faculty and staff at the institute’s partner universities—Rochester Institute of Technology, Clarkson University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University at Buffalo—that support research intended to develop innovative green technologies for organizations to implement. NYSP2I’s efforts are driven by business and organizational needs and are designed to solve specific issues where the solutions result in transferable practices and technologies.

Current research and development priorities include the elimination or substitution of toxic chemicals, overall waste reduction as well as energy-and-water efficiency opportunities in priority manufacturing sectors around the state.

Projects were selected based on their potential to reduce the environmental footprint of New York state businesses.

“This marks the sixth consecutive year that the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute has funded research and development grants selected through a competitive application process,” said Anahita Williamson, NYSP2I director. “We’re proud to once again advance important research efforts that will further develop innovative solutions in sustainability and pollution prevention.”

The following projects were awarded funding from NYSP2I:

  • “Transforming food waste digestate into fertilizer for controlled environment food production,” Susan E. Powers and Stefan J. Grimberg, Clarkson University
  • “Liquid-phase electrical discharge plasmas for inactivation of pathogens and spoilage organisms in fruit juices and milk,” Selma Mededovic, Clarkson University
  • “Increasing the reliability and efficiency of wind turbines by reducing gearbox friction and wear,” Patricia Iglesias Victoria and Michael Haselkorn, RIT
  • “Performance enhancement of bioplastic blends,” Carlos A. Diaz, RIT
  • “Microbial fuel cells for prevention of food processing wastewater discharge,” Thomas A. Trabold, RIT
  • “Feasibility study of antifouling membranes for wastewater reuse,” Haiqing Lin, UB

About the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute

The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) is a partnership between the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University at Buffalo and Clarkson University, with a statewide reach. The goal of NYSP2I is to make the state more sustainable for workers, the public, the environment and the economy through pollution prevention. Pollution prevention is reducing or eliminating waste at the source by modifying production processes, promoting the use of non-toxic or less-toxic substances, implementing conservation techniques, and re-using materials rather than putting them into the waste stream.

Go to http://www.nysp2i.rit.edu to learn more about NYSP2I and its research and development program.

Corporate Sustainability Practices: Waste & Recycling

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When it comes to waste, everyone knows the 3-R mantra: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. But it’s tough to follow the 3 Rs when products, packaging and materials aren’t designed with end-of-life in mind.

GreenBiz Group and Waste Management recently conducted a joint research effort to identify current trends in waste reduction and recycling. The research was undertaken to identify insights into how waste and recycling decisions are made by sustainability executives, the metrics they are employing in their drive toward waste reduction, and the actions they plan to undertake in the future.

How to brew beer better: Less water, less energy, more innovation

In the latest P2 Impact column for GreenBiz, Paula Del Giudice highlights the changes that breweries are making to reduce their environmental footprint.

You can view previous P2 Impact columns here.