Apple, Microsoft, Motorola wring new revenue out of e-waste

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

What do Apple, Microsoft and Motorola have in common?

All of these high-profile technology companies are harvesting new revenue out of discarded and end-of-life gadgets, rather than looking at them just as liabilities that require responsible recycling. What’s more, all three are among the roughly 100 organizations using Hong Kong’s Li Tong Group (aka LTG) to get the job done.

How the circular economy is taking off in the US

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Laptops made of plastic from old laptops. Aluminium car body parts made from old cars. Chemicals leased out, recovered, and leased again. These are just a few examples of how the circular economy, once seen as a Scandinavian speciality, is starting to spin in the United States.

Defining the circular economy

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Speedo is making swimwear out of factory textile scraps. Ford is turning old floor mats into engine components. And battery manufacturers are turning old batteries into — well, new batteries.

A successor to old school “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantras, these examples of unconventional material re-purposing help illustrate the much-hyped circular economy — a more ambitious, and more marketing-friendly, rethinking of how product materials and packaging can be cycled back into supply chains.

The Latest Thing in Green: FIT students test environmentally friendly ways to reuse textiles

Read the full story in the Wall Street Journal.

Mention the Fashion Institute of Technology, and green innovation isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. But two FIT students are undertaking a project that they hope will make the fashion industry’s use of textiles more environmentally friendly.

While the recycling of plastic, aluminum and paper is now commonplace, the recycling of organic fabric is rare, because no one has come up with an easy, environmentally friendly way to do it.

But Lydia Baird and Willa Tsokanis hope to change that. Students in FIT’s textile development and marketing program, they found themselves asking why the school routinely tossed out reams of muslin, a cheap strain of cotton used throughout the industry to test designs, once students were finished with it. While biodegradable, it takes longer to break down when mixed with other landfill refuse.

Thinking in circles, cycles and loops

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its annual municipal waste Facts and Figures report last month with a new tag line of “Advancing Sustainable Materials Management.” The new name comes at an interesting time in the world of municipal solid waste management in the U.S.

In short, if America wants to recycle, people will have to pay more. So far, there really has been no discussion about the underlying reality that current practices yield a lot of contamination (aka waste).

I recently spoke at a fundraising event in Barre, Vermont for the Toxics Action Center (TAC). As part of its mission to prevent landfill expansions and associated environmental impacts, TAC advocates for “zero waste” programs. I was asked to address zero waste initiatives, especially in light of Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law, which forbids disposal of recycled materials and organics by 2020.

While thinking about how to frame my remarks, it hit me that “zero waste” is equivalent to “100 percent resources.” In other words, every material manufactured or grown can be used or consumed, and then, because what’s left are resources, can be repurposed or reused as is, recycled, digested or composted.