Summary of “A scrappy solution to the fashion industry’s giant waste problem”

Last school year, Maione started bringing her students at Parsons School of Design here to give them a first-hand look at the current state wastefulness on the maker side of the fashion industry.
In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that individual Americans generated 16 million tons of textile waste.
Consumer kondo-ing isn’t even the biggest source of the fashion industry’s waste problem.
Although no one is keeping exact track of the scale, commercial textile waste is estimated to account for about 40 times as much fashion waste as residential dumping.
There are laws in place that are supposed to reduce fashion manufacturing waste.
New York City actually requires companies that generate waste consisting of more than 10 percent textiles to recycle rather than trash their excess fabric.
Tracking companies’ waste is challenging; making the recycling law difficult to enforce.
Companies aren’t required to report their waste streams to the city, nor does the city’s Department of Sanitation pick up trash from commercial businesses.

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Summary of “The Plastic Industry’s Fight to Keep Polluting the World”

“The industry has no idea what they’re putting in the plastic and who’s putting it in,” said Andrew Turner, a British chemist who recently found toxic chemicals in 40 percent of the black plastic toys, thermoses, cocktail stirrers, and utensils he tested.
“Plastics recycling is not a realistic solution to the plastic pollution crisis. Most consumer plastics are economically impractical to recycle based on market conditions alone,” Rep. Alan Lowenthal and Sen. Tom Udall wrote in a letter to President Donald Trump in June, noting that the “Spread of single-use plastic products has led to widespread pollution of plastic in the U.S. and has caused a growing financial burden on state agencies, local governments and taxpayers for remediation.”
Patty Long, interim president and chief executive officer of the Plastics Industry Association, the group that convened the Texas meeting, also acknowledged the pain of being the public face of an industry held responsible for the devastation of the natural world.
Asked about the apparent dissonance between its sustainability pledge and participation in the Plastics Industry Association, Walmart provided an emailed statement saying that “Walmart’s aspiration is to achieve zero plastic waste. We are taking actions across our business to use less plastic, recycle more and support innovations to improve plastic waste reduction systems.” The statement also said that Walmart has “Asked our suppliers to reduce unnecessary plastic packaging, increase packaging recyclability and increase recycled content, and to help us educate customers on reducing, reusing and recycling plastic.”
According to Jan Dell, an engineer who worked as a corporate sustainability consultant before creating The Last Beach Cleanup, an organization that confronts plastics pollution, the Recycling Partnership and other nonprofits supported by the plastics industry are using misleading information to ease concerns that otherwise might lead consumers to stop buying plastic.
In January, Taco Bell also crowed over its own new plastic lids, as if creating more plastic would somehow fix the plastics crisis.
The public-private partnership run by the ACC, which encourages the recycling of plastic bags through 18,000 plastic film collection sites around the country and promotes the idea that plastic bags can be recycled, launched a new effort in Connecticut in 2017 that coincided with the state’s consideration of a tax on plastic bags.
Even as WRAP promotes the message that plastic film can and should be recycled, and scolds people who don’t put plastic bags in recycle bins, many of the used bags and other plastic waste it collects wind up being burned or sent to landfills.

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Summary of “Should we say goodbye to the school lunch milk carton?”

“Sometimes people won’t even open their milk and drink it, so that wastes a ton of milk and the carton.”
“Sometimes people won’t even open their milk and drink it, so that wastes a ton of milk and the carton,” he tells me.
“So if we got the plastic washable cups with the milk dispensers, they could get the right amount of milk that they wanted.”
Despite the evident benefits, some school administrators argue that milk dispensers could violate school lunch regulations set by the USDA. Schools participating in the NSLP are reimbursed for every lunch served, as long as meals meet nutritional guidelines.
A USDA spokesperson writes: “The regulations do not mandate any specific type of packaging for milk served as part of the reimbursable meal, nor do they restrict the ability of schools to use milk dispensers. However, schools that use dispensers are expected to take steps to ensure that children receive the required 8 oz. serving when selecting milk.”
At 23 cents per eight ounces, the price of one percent white milk is the same whether it comes in cartons or in bulk sacks; chocolate milk is two cents cheaper in bulk than cartons.
According to a 2016 report from the state of Vermont, two schools which tested dispensers decided to revert back to milk cartons a) because workers spent time filling cups to guarantee eight ounces were served, b) because of extra labor cleaning up spills, and c) because the price of bulk milk was two cents more expensive per eight ounces.
Ultimately, tens of millions of milk cartons are handed out at lunch every school day and that creates a lot of waste.

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Summary of “These 20 companies use food waste to make new food”

A new wave of companies is figuring out how to make new products from food that used to end up in the trash, from pulp popsicles to beer bread. Here are 20 to watch.
ReFed, an organization that tracks the food waste industry, counts at least 70 businesses and nonprofits that now transform food that otherwise would have been wasted into new products.
In the U.S.-where Americans now waste 70% more food than they did in the 1970s-food waste is responsible for roughly the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as 37 million cars.
Waste happens at every stage of the process, from farm fields-where food may be abandoned if a farmer has a surplus or the food has imperfections-to distribution centers, supermarkets, restaurants, food processing plants, and homes.
The startups making new food from wasted ingredients typically focus on waste from farms and food processing plants.
While repurposing food waste in new food is only one type of solution-others range from innovations in labeling expiration dates to an invisible, plant-based coating that can help produce last longer-it can be cost-effective, as the ingredients are sometimes available at a reduced price.
When the products market their ability to prevent food waste, that can also make consumers more aware of the problem and potentially help inspire them to cut waste at home, where the biggest proportion of food ends up in the trash.
Though it can’t tackle the entire problem, upcycling food waste can make a difference; ReFed estimates that using donated products alone can divert more than 100,000 tons of food waste each year, and generate $285 million in economic value.

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Summary of “A sweet tale: the son who reinvented sugar to help diabetic dad”

So he dedicated his studies to a side project: creating an acceptable alternative to help his father and millions of Mexicans like him avoid sugar.
His business, Xilinat, buys waste from 13 local farmers, producing 1 tonne of the product a year.
“High fructose corn syrup is just a bomb of carbs and concentrated sugar that makes a high peak of insulin. It’s many times sweeter than regular glucose. Companies use and pay less and that’s the issue.”
Reusing agricultural waste is rapidly emerging as a promising sector for social entrepreneurs keen to tackle global heating and make useful things at the same time.
“One corn stalk has 70% to 80% waste by weight when you get down to it,” says Stefan Mühlbauer, of Cormo USA Inc. His company has a pilot plant in Alsace, France, and is building another in Indiana, US, to turn corn waste into a peat moss substitute and a super-absorbent foam for filters or soil.
In Mexico, agricultural waste is often burned, releasing greenhouse gases and creating one of the country’s highest sources of dioxin emissions.
“There’s definitely a sense of urgency in making sure that we farm in a way that is regenerative, preventing waste but also the waste that is currently not edible, with a food industry making the right options for consumers and for the planet.”
“It’s not just that he’s building a sugar substitute that tastes like sugar but that it’s going to become scalable so every company that uses sugar in its food has the opportunity to rethink what kind of substitute they use,” she said.

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Summary of “Where Are All the Trash Cans in Japanese Cities?”

For two decades, it was the lament of inexperienced visitors to Japan: Where are all the trash cans? It’s a cruel trick, in a way: In a country with innumerable vending machines, there’s often nowhere to put one’s wrappers or empty bottles.
Public waste bins and garbage cans were largely removed from Japanese cities following the 1995 sarin gas attacks, forcing residents to adopt some of the world’s more disciplined waste disposal techniques.
In recent years the long-absent trash cans have started to make a cautious return to public spaces such as parks and train stations.
The domestic terror attack remains deeply resonant among the Japanese public, in part because of the potent symbolism in targeting the Tokyo subway-a system that carries millions of passengers each day and serves as an emblem of the nation’s economic power and modernity.
When trash cans were axed in public restrooms, for example, so were paper towels, to head off a potential litter problem.
In recent years, garbage cans have slowly returned to public life in Japan.
The huge numbers of foreign visitors-a phenomenon dubbed kankō kōgai, or “Tourism pollution,” in local media-has convinced authorities to re-introduce more public waste receptacles to accommodate those unfamiliar with Japanese garbage mores.
Trash cans in Tokyo Metro stations are also positioned to be within eyesight of ticket gate staff.

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Summary of “From no recycling to zero waste: how Ljubljana rethought its rubbish”

Four years later, the city began collecting biodegradable waste door to door; separate collection of biowaste is set to become mandatory across Europe in 2023, but Ljubljana was nearly two decades ahead of the curve.
Most controversially, scheduled collections of the residual waste were cut by half – forcing people to separate their rubbish more efficiently.
The development of the most modern plant in Europe for treating biological waste has been a major step towards meeting the city’s commitment to a minimum 75% recycling rate by 2025.
The Regional Centre for Waste Management opened in 2015 and today services almost a quarter of all Slovenia, uses natural gas to produce its own heat and electricity, processes 95% of residual waste into recyclable materials and solid fuel, and sends less than 5% to landfill.
In addition to door-to-door collection, Ljubljana has two household waste recycling centres where citizens can dispose of their rubbish.
Almost every corner has separate waste bins for paper, packaging and residual rubbish.
Ljubljana still faces challenges – not least apartment buildings, where it is difficult to identify those who dispose of waste incorrectly, but also a huge ongoing glut of cemetery candles, a particular issue for Slovenia, which ranks third in the world for their use.
“Of course they could do even better,” says Pierre Condamine, waste policy officer at Zero Waste Europe.

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Summary of “This Town Didn’t Want to Be a Radioactive Waste Dump. The Government Is Giving Them No Choice.”

The DOE built the 1,200-acre facility, located just outside town of Piketon about an hour’s drive south of Columbus in southcentral Ohio, in 1954, as one of three plants it was using to enrich uranium and develop the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal.
Now, more than 15 years later, the DOE is left with the task of cleaning up the more than 2 million tons of low-level radioactive waste and thousands more tons of hazardous waste the plant’s operations left behind.
The DOE says it will save $218 million by burying the waste on site versus shipping it to facilities in the Southwest desert, according to a record of decision released in June 2015.
To bury the waste on-site, the DOE must waive a requirement that prevents it from constructing the landfill within 200 feet of these kinds of water bodies.
Despite the fancy cut-outs put together by DOE contractor Fluor-BWXT, Chillicothe city council members passed a resolution that day against the waste cell.
“DOE has a history in this community of not listening. DOE is not a popular government agency in this community.” – David Manuta, former chief scientist at Portsmouth.
Elizabeth Lamerson doesn’t know if she and her neighbors will succeed in stopping the DOE from dumping radioactive waste in their backyards.
Litigation takes money and for a small town like Piketon, taking on the DOE would be a serious investment.

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Summary of “Recycling Is Broken”

The recycling industry-which operates with next to no federal guidance despite processing a quarter of America’s waste-is in an existential struggle to chart a new path forward for itself.
Most of us think of recycling as a service our city provides, but in reality it’s a business.
The effect on the U.S. recycling business was, as one industry expert put it, like an “Earthquake.” Mixed paper and plastic exports to China plunged more than 90 percent between January 2017 and January 2018, according to data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. International Trade Commission.
Anne Germain, Vice President of Technical and Regulatory Affairs at the National Waste and Recycling Association, an industry trade group, told me that mixed paper went from selling for about $100 a ton to a high of about $3 a ton.
Ultimately, the effects have rippled back to the cities which, faced with soaring costs to keep recycling afloat, have been forced to make hard choices, whether that’s sending recyclables to a landfill or paring down the list of items they’ll accept.
McGrath said if Philly can convince residents to stop tossing plastic bags in the recycling bin, that alone would be a big deal.
Germain said public education was something the recycling industry as a whole had let slide over the years.
While a better educated public would translate to a cleaner, more profitable recycling stream, there’s also a desperate need for new manufacturers to fill the China-shaped void.

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Summary of “A Crusade In The Philippines Takes On The Big Brands Behind Plastic Waste”

NPR is exploring one of the most important environmental issues of our time: plastic waste.
He stopped using plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic anything, whenever he could.
With the foundation and backing from international environmental groups like GAIA, Grate helped teach communities to collect their own waste and segregate out the plastic.
Difficulties with plastic waste “Are not the responsibility of those who produce materials, fabricate packages and package goods,” he wrote in “Proceedings: First National Conference on Packaging Waste.” Rather, he said, it’s the consumer’s responsibility.
Jenna Jambeck at the University of Georgia, an engineer and waste expert, calculated how much plastic waste was going into the ocean every year.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., laid it out loud and clear in a Senate hearing: “Over 50 percent of the plastic waste in the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. Their upland waste management systems are a failure.”
He says the major consumer brands are already committed to reducing plastic waste.
A mediation group, the Meridian Institute in Washington, D.C., invited him to come talk to people in the U.S. who were concerned about plastic waste.

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