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Sludge Treatment at U.K. Facility Turns Waste into “Black Gold”

Photo Credit: Helen Apps/ United Utilities Group Plc via Bloomberg

 The Davyhulme facility in U.K., a sludge recycling center built by Black & Veatch for United Utilites Group Plc has been awarded IChemE’s international prize as “the most innovative green-energy scheme on Earth”. The plant converts human waste formerly disposed in the Irish Sea to generate biogas that is enough to power 25,000 homes and also produce the resulting sludge as fertilizer. By employing thermal hydrolysis technology, the facility can generate 50 to 60 percent more volume of biogas than conventional methods. Biogas from the digested sludge is stored in two giant green “gas bag” showed in the picture above. With the advanced digestion technique, the facility that processes the sewage of 1.2 million people in Manchester can now be energy self-sufficient and even export surplus power to the U.K. grid.
Date & Source: August 29, 2014, Bloomberg

Brazil Arrests Greatest Destroyers of the Amazon Rainforest

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On August 28, Brazilian police has arrested six members of a criminal organization who are involved in the illegal deforestation of large portions of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, with 14 warrants issued as the result of a joint investigation called “Operation Chestnut”. The operation is the collaboration between the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), the Federal Police, the IRS, and federal prosecutors. The organization is prosecuted for invading, logging and burning areas of public land and selling them as farming and grazing allotments while the members will be accused with six offenses which could put them in prison for more than 50 years.
Brazil has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, losing more than 36 million hectares of forest between 2001 and 2013.
Date & Source: August 28, 2014,

Haagen-Dazs Commits Not to Use Synthetic Biology Vanilla

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Haagen-Dazs, a leading ice cream company, has committed not to use vanilla produced via synthetic biology in their production. Synthetic biology or synbio is a new technique that uses artificial DNA and reprogrammed, genetically engineered yeast to produce vanilla that can replace natural vanillin flavoring from vanilla beans. The commitment came as a result of a joint petition raised by Friends of the Earth and six other organizations on concerns about the safety of synthetic biology ingredients in food and consumer products. Labeling of synthetic biology products as “natural” would eventually impact small-scale farmers who cultivate and harvest the real plant in rainforests, and render the forests vulnerable to massive clearing for industrial-scale plantations that displace these rainforest products.
Date & Source: August 27, 2014, Ecowatch

Plastic Pollution at Sydney Harbour Reaches Alarming Levels

Photo Credit: Vivian Sim/ University of NSW
Researchers have discovered a high level of plastic pollution in Sydney harbor, mostly caused by fibres from clothing and toiletries. The Sydney Harbour Research Program shows that plastic debris measuring less than 5mm in size have been found in sediment sample from all 27 sites in the harbour. The samples contained 60 to 100 plastic particles per 100ml of wet harbour sediment, which is much higher than the 24 plastic particles found at a busy harbour in Sweden. According to Emma Johnston, director of the research, these micro-plastics pose more threats to animals than larger ones and could be ingested by up to 96 percent of animals and invertebrates.
Date & Source: August 25, 2014, The Guardian

Malaysian Police to Use Electric Motorcycles and Hybrid Cars

Photo Credit: Bentley Smith   
In this coming October, the Royal Malaysian Police will start deploying hybrid patrol cars and electric motorcycles throughout the nation for crime-prevention patrols. More police patrol cars would be installed with the Revolo hybrid systems in the near future, if approved, with a target of 2000 hybrid cars and 30 electric motorcycles. According to Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah, the director of Bukit Aman Logistics Department, the use of hybrid cars is estimated to save 30 percent in fuel cost and reduce carbon emission by 30 per cent.
Date & Source: August 25, 2014, Environment News Service

Identifying Polymers Using Fluorescent Fingerprint Could Expedite Plastic Recycling

Photo Credit: alexandro900/ Fotolia   
Researchers from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have successfully developed a technique which could automatically sort out different types of plastics by identifying their polymer constituents using fluorescent fingerprinting. The new technique exposes plastics to a flash of light which causes the material to fluoresce and then measure their fluorescence lifetimes which is specific for every polymer. With near-zero errors in the sorting process, contamination and down-cycling problems could be minimized. In addition, the high purity of the recycled plastics allows it to replace virgin plastic for the manufacture of high-quality plastics. The sorting speed of 1.5 tons per hour achieved means it is ready for industrial scale application.
Date & Source: August 21, 2014, ScienceDaily

Partnership between Bon-Ton Stores and Goodwill Shows How Retailers Can Help Boost Textile Recycling

Photo Credit: Emily May   
Over the past 20 years, Bon-Ton USA, a clothing retailer, has organized a bi-annual donation drive and sale event in collaboration with Goodwill. The attractive aspect of the event is the exchange of one discount coupon for every item of clothing donated. The most recent event has successfully collected an estimated 2.5 million pounds of clothes. According to Christine Hojnacki, the Vice President of Events for Bon-Ton, the Goodwill sale is a win-win solution that not only helps to reduce clothing from filling up the landfill, but also financially supports the company in its community youth and job training programs.
Date & Source: August 21, 2014, Treehugger

Massive Decline of Monarch Butterfly’s Population Linked to Disappearance of Milkweed

Photo Credit: Journey North
Research done by various parties, including World Wildlife Fund Mexico, Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and University of Guelph have revealed that loss of milkweed had the greatest impact on the massive decline of the monarch butterfly population. Milkweed, which is the only plant on which monarch butterflies lay their eggs, also serves as the primary food source for the monarch caterpillars. From 1995 to 2013, milkweed decreased 21 percent due to the large-scale use of herbicides in U.S. farms. According to the censuses, only 33 million of monarch butterflies had migrated to their wintering site in central Mexico in 2013, which is much fewer than the 550 million that was estimated in 2004. Loss of their habitat ground, combined with illegal deforestation and extreme weather have also hampered greatly the survival of this winged golden icon.
Date & Source: August 19, 2014, National Geographic

Photo Credit: Christine Daniloff/ MIT

Single Used Car Batteries Could Power 30 Households!

Photo Credit: Christine Daniloff/ MIT
Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have proposed an innovative system that recycles lead from discarded car batteries into perovskite-based solar cells. Perovskite, specifically organolead halide perovskite, can be extracted from lead-acid batteries to form a thin film photovoltaic measuring only half a micrometer thick. A single car battery could produce solar panels that are able to generate sufficient energy for 30 households. Perovskite-based solar cells have also attained more than 19 percent power-conversion efficiency, which is comparable with other commercial solar cells in the market. In future, low cost and large-scale production of the solar cells could be achieved due to the simplified manufacturing processes. This approach not only diverts a large stockpile of the toxic metals from landfills but also turns them into clean energy.
Date & Source: August 18, 2014, ScienceDaily

Photo Credit: Christine Daniloff/ MIT

Japanese Company Helps Fund the Rehabilitation of 250ha of Degraded Mangroves in Sabah

Through the funding contributed by a Japanese company, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co Ltd, Sabah is on its way to rehabilitating some 250ha of degraded mangroves within the next five years. The project is the second phase of collaboration between the state Forestry Department and the International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (IMSE). The previous phase had restored about 152ha of wetlands in Sabah over the past four years. With funds of RM169,235, the project would rehabilitate about 50ha of mangroves every year until 2019.  For more information, visit Boh’s Facebook page at or register online at
Date & Source: August 17, 2014, The Star