How Elephant Poop Becomes Fancy Paper in Sri Lanka

Read the full story at Atlas Obscura.

Grown-up elephants can eat more than 300 pounds of food—mostly grass, twigs, foliage, and tree bark—in a single day. In the same period, they may defecate 16 to 18 times, producing over 200 pounds of dung. In Randeniya, a small village in the lower wetlands of Sri Lanka, elephant poop is a renewable resource. The sun-dried, deep-brown dung piles up like haystacks in a painting by Claude Monet.

Visitors could be forgiven for thinking that the poop is useless. But at Eco Maximus, a manufacturer in Randeniya, it takes on a second life. More than 20 years ago, a man named Thusita Ranasinghe saw some dung and had an idea. “He thought he could make paper from it,” says the company’s brand designer, Susantha Karunarathne, with a smile. At his office inside the company factory, Karunarathne wears a green t-shirt which says #elephantdungpaper and shows off some of his recent journal designs.

The best science and math moments in Sesame Street’s first 50 years

Read the full story at Ars Technica.

There was nothing on television like Sesame Street when it premiered 50 years ago, and the truth is, there’s still nothing quite like it now. (That’s a big reason why it was such a valuable acquisition for HBO in 2015.) Throughout the years, the show has always been on the front lines of what’s important to teach children. And as some of the show’s greatest hits demonstrate, long before educational advocates began popularizing the STEM acronym (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), Sesame Street was already there with silly characters promoting serious lessons.

To Make This Tofu, Start by Burning Toxic Plastic

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Plastic waste from America, collected for recycling, is shipped to Indonesia. Some is burned as fuel by tofu makers, producing deadly chemicals and contaminating food.

Elusive deer-like animal ‘rediscovered’ in Vietnam

Read the full story in Nature.

Camera traps have recorded the first images of the silver-backed chevrotain in the wild.

Fargo scientists search for next generation of plant-based plastics

Read the full story from MPRNews.

In a noisy industrial lab at North Dakota State University, graduate students make dog bones with an injection molding machine — but there are no dogs in sight. The students are researchers, and they use the bone-shaped plastic pieces to test the strength of new bioplastics — plastics made out of plant material, like wheat germ, corn, soybeans and plant-based polymers.

This research effort — formally, the Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites — is based at NDSU but happening in conjunction with three other universities: Iowa State, the University of Georgia and the University of Washington. 

And while bioplastics have only a tiny share of the plastics market today, some major companies — the Ford Motor Company, The Coca-Cola Company and 3M —  are joining the research effort. Scientists expect more plant-based plastics to find their way into everyday products. 

Packaging industry pumps up R&D to keep pace with green goals

Read the full story in Food Engineering.

Packaging industry insiders at the recent PACK EXPO in Las Vegas noted that many larger processors are rolling out sustainable packaging in one brand or a small number of products to start. The industry also is waiting for the supply of post-consumer resin to get steadier as the United States tries to improve its recycling rates to catch up with Europe.

The climate chain reaction that threatens the heart of the Pacific

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The salmon catch is collapsing off Japan’s northern coast, plummeting by about 70 percent in the past 15 years. The disappearance of the fish coincides with another striking development: the loss of a unique blanket of sea ice that dips far below the Arctic to reach this shore.

Fukushima to be Transformed into Renewable Energy Hub

Read the full story at e360 Digest.

Eight years after an earthquake and tsunami transformed Fukushima into the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters, plans are underway to turn the Japanese prefecture into a hub of renewable energy. Japanese officials announced a new $2.7 billion project that will include 11 solar plants and 10 wind farms, built on abandoned or contaminated lands, according to The Nikkei, a Japanese newspaper.

Listening to Nature: The Emerging Field of Bioacoustics

Read the full story at e360.

Researchers are increasingly placing microphones in forests and other ecosystems to monitor birds, insects, frogs, and other animals. As the technology advances and becomes less costly, proponents argue, bioacoustics is poised to become an important remote-sensing tool for conservation.

Text Messages Sent by Roaming Eagles Bankrupt Scientific Study

Read the full story in Smithsonian Magazine.

A steppe eagle named Min spent months out of range before reappearing in Iran and sending hundreds of expensive SMS texts.