Researchers Study Whether Renewable Is Always Better

Read the full story from Carnegie Mellon University.

Making plastics from plants is a growing trend. It’s renewable, but is it better?

A recent study by Carnegie Mellon University researchers examines the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of three plant-based plastics at each stage of production compared with that of their common fossil fuel-based counterparts.

The study by Daniel Posen, Paulina Jaramillo and Michael Griffin in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy (EPP), was published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology.

The study is novel in the way it treats uncertainty and looks at emissions over the life cycle of plastics. The researchers used a technique called life cycle assessment that analyzes emissions at each stage in the life of a product: resource extraction to manufacturing, to use of the product and end of life.

 

These Shoes Are Knit From Recycled Water Bottles

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Two weeks ago, this new shoe was three plastic water bottles. After ground-up bottles are turned into recycled filament fiber and delivered to a factory, a San Francisco-based startup uses a proprietary process to 3D-knit the fiber into a seamless, essentially waste-free shoe. The knitting process takes just six minutes.

Scotch egg company claims to have cracked problem of eggshell waste

Read the full story in The Guardian.

An egg mayonnaise supplier has partnered with scientists at Leicester University to turns leftover eggshells into a filler for plastics.

Why Tech Companies Design Products With Their Destruction in Mind

Read the full story in the Wall Street Journal.

Apple introduced a piece of technology recently that will likely never be used by any consumer. Instead, it kind of cleans up after them: a robot that breaks down iPhones for recycling…

The company spent more than three years building Liam, of which there are currently two. Each carefully separates iPhone components such as the camera module, SIM card trays, screws and batteries. Instead of tossing the whole device into a shredder—the most common form of disposal—Liam separates materials so they can be recycled more efficiently.

Other electronics makers take a different recycling approach, designing products that simplify disassembly by replacing glue and screws with parts that snap together, for instance. Some also have reduced the variety of plastics used and avoid mercury and other hazardous materials that can complicate disposal.

 

Are antibacterial building materials making you unhealthy?

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

As green design turns its eye to health, architects are looking not only at chemical properties in materials but also at the microbes around us to promote environmental health and sustainability and human health.

Rare and minor metals, or chemicals made from metals such as cadmium, titanium and molybdenum, are in everything in our buildings from sheeting, to LEDs, to solar panels, to appliances, equipment and paints. We use them, for example, to enhance steel and prevent corrosion.

Tracing the environmental and health consequences of acquiring and using and recycling these metals is unwieldy, from destructive open pit mining in Mongolia to unregulated waste disposal of materials in China to the unstudied health effects of these metals, Ken Geiser of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Products at University of Massachusetts told an audience at the BuildWell symposium in San Francisco.

With an increasing emphasis on health and wellness in green design, how are building professional addressing this heretofore somewhat unexamined aspect of their supply chain? Labeling and transparency of materials is a start. Geiser’s recommendations to design teams: Check all the components of a product, know your sources and, until we can clean up our supply chains, put a gap in between construction and move-in dates.

How might we fall in love with industrial waste? Create value from landfill-bound materials.

Read the full story from the Biomimicry Institute.

Sustainability is a journey and we have to start where we are today. How might we create real change within an industry? Embrace waste and all of its potential. This is an inside look into how our team is working to change industry from within a large manufacturing corporation by turning what we normally think of as waste into something better.