Carbon Footprint and Climate Change
American Forests Tree Equity program is using urban forestry initiatives to address both climate change and social equity in underserved communities; underserved, because they do not have enough trees, jobs, or opportunities. Tree Equity is using the model of ‘the right tree in the right place’ to develop healthy ecosystems and help encourage jobs to care for the new urban forests.
At the annual shareholders meeting, Amazon investors voted down proposals to increase transparency over the company’s carbon footprint. Last year, over 7000 employee shareholders pushed to encourage Amazon to disclose both its carbon footprint, and its plan to manage greenhouse gas emissions in the future. Amazon has responded to the repeated calls for action on transparency and says it will disclose its carbon footprint later this year.
Dow is working on a new asphalt recipe that includes recycled post-consumer plastic waste. They have paved two roads near one of their plants in Texas and will be studying the effects of traffic and that hot Texas sun on the roads over the next two to three years. They are using low-density polyethylene plastic in the mix, as well as rocks, minerals, and the asphalt. They have also built test roads with this plastics mix in Thailand and Indonesia.
With the high unregulated demand for palm oil, deforestation is on the rise in places like Indonesia. However, Revive Eco it aiming to change all that by recycling used coffee grounds. Coffee beans contain oils that could be used to replace palm oil, which usually ends up in the filter and is thrown out with the coffee grounds. Revive Eco process refines these oils so that they can be used in commercial production.
Recycling and Reuse
Haagen Dazs has joined in the Loop initiative, and their product engineers have developed a double-steel walled ice cream container. This container of ice cream can be used and returned for refilling. As Americans eat over 23 pounds of ice cream a year each, that is a lot of product packaging that is being saved from the landfill. Like many products with high moisture content, ice cream containers are usually paper or plastic, lined with polyethylene to keep the moisture intact. This method works, but can’t be easily recycled. The new reusable ice cream container will keep the ice cream frozen during transport and delivery, and is even designed to keep the top of the ice cream at the perfect consistency for eating. Researchers are working on developing new paper packaging through an initiative sponsored by both Starbucks and McDonald’s, to develop a compostable coffee cup that can be recycled.
Emerging Energy Technologies
Work on the new wavelength-selective transparent PV panel is moving forward, but slowly. These fully transparent PV panels work by using organic salts to absorb light wavelengths that are invisible to the naked eye. A transparent, flexible PV panel is the goal of many different research initiatives; the organic salts model is effective, but the lifecycle of the panel is less than ten years. Efforts are also ongoing for silicone and nanotechnology-based alternatives.