Brownsville, Texas: It Will Cost You A Buck To Use Plastic Bags

Brownsville, Texas will be another US city that plans on going green by banning plastic bags. The ban on plastic goes into effect on January 5, 2011 with an added feature. Customers can still opt to use plastic bags at $1 per transaction. According to a local news report the city fathers want their city to be beautiful and to take care of the environment.

According to a local news article it states that:

But the law will not affect all businesses. Camarillo says amendments to the ban will target mostly convenience stores and supermarkets, big and small.

“We exempted cleaners, for example, garments that may be plastic material. That wasn’t the issue and so we defined those. Pharmaceutical, Small hardware stores,” he added.

The surcharge would be handed out by the stores. “Those funds would be given back to city for clean up and environmental projects,” Camarillo added.

As previously mentioned by some of our readers, this is not such a novel approach as some would have us believe. There are some cities in other countries who have banned plastic for years.

Comments welcome.

Source – ValleyCentral.com

Latest 'Green' Packing Material? Mushrooms

There should be an image here!A new packing material that grows itself is now appearing in shipped products across the country.

The composite of inedible agricultural waste and mushroom roots is called Mycobond, and its manufacture requires just one eighth the energy and one tenth the carbon dioxide of traditional foam packing material.

And unlike most foam substitutes, when no longer useful, it makes great compost in the garden.

The technology was the brainchild of two former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute undergraduates, Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer, who founded Ecovative Design of Green Island, N.Y., to bring their idea into production.

“We don’t manufacture materials, we grow them,” says McIntyre. “We’re converting agricultural byproducts into a higher-value product.”

Because the feedstock is based on renewable resources, he adds, the material has an economic benefit as well: it is not prone to the price fluctuations common to synthetic materials derived from such sources as petroleum. “All of our raw materials are inherently renewable and they are literally waste streams,” says McIntyre. “It’s an open system based on biological materials.”

With support from NSF, McIntyre and Bayer are developing a new, less energy-intensive method to sterilize their agricultural-waste starter material — a necessary step for enabling the mushroom fibers, called mycelia, to grow. McIntyre and Bayer are replacing a steam-heat process with a treatment made from cinnamon-bark oil, thyme oil, oregano oil and lemongrass oil.

The sterilization process, which kills any spores that could compete with Ecovative’s mushrooms, is almost as effective as the autoclaving process used to disinfect medical instruments and will allow the Mycobond products to grow in the open air, instead of their current clean-room environment.

“The biological disinfection process simply emulates nature,” says McIntyre, “in that it uses compounds that plants have evolved over centuries to inhibit microbial growth. The unintended result is that our production floor smells like a pizza shop.”

Much of the manufacturing process is nearly energy-free, with the mycelia growing around and digesting agricultural starter material — such as cotton seed or wood fiber — in an environment that is both room-temperature and dark. Because the growth occurs within a molded plastic structure (which the producers customize for each application), no energy is required for shaping the products.

Once fully formed, each piece is heat-treated to stop the growth process and delivered to the customer — though with the new, easier, disinfection treatment, Bayer and McIntyre are hoping the entire process can be packaged as a kit, allowing shipping facilities, and even homeowners, to grow their own Mycobond materials.

Based on a preliminary assessment McIntyre and Bayer conducted under their Phase I NSF SBIR award, the improvements to the sterilization phase will reduce the energy of the entire manufacturing process to one fortieth of that required to create polymer foam.

“This project is compelling because it uses innovative technology to further improve Ecovative’s value, while also providing the environmental benefits that NSF is looking for,” said Ben Schrag, the NSF program officer who oversees Ecovative’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award. “The traction that they have gotten with their early customers demonstrates how companies can build strong businesses around products whose primary competitive advantage lies in their sustainability.”

In addition to the packaging product, called EcoCradle, Ecovative has developed a home insulation product dubbed greensulate. Comparable in effectiveness to foam insulation, it has the added benefit of being flame retardant.

Ecovative is already producing custom protective packaging products for several Fortune 500 companies, though they are leveraging the new disinfection process to produce turnkey systems that they plan to deploy to off-site customers and do-it-yourself homeowners by 2013.

Joshua A. Chamot @ National Science Foundation

[Photo above by Edward Browka, Ecovative Design]

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Is Hard Plastic Packaging Necessary?

During the past few weeks, I have been working with a youth group, and we have been building a computer system. The main purpose is to give the students, 8th and 9th graders, practical hands on experience in building a system from scratch. Once the system is completed, we will be donating the computer to a local charity that provides food and clothing to people in need.

Some of the parts, hard drive, DVD rom, cpu container and heatsink/fan came in hard plastic packaging. You know the type of packaging I am talking about. The type of packaging that you need a table saw or hatchet to open. The hard plastic stuff that becomes razor sharp when cut with scissors and can take off a chunk of flesh if you are not careful.

So now here is a question. What is the purpose of hard plastic packaging? It is some type of a test to see if we can open the package to get to the product? Is it to see how many people we can get into the emergency room? :-)

Comments welcome.

AllCDCovers

Whenever you purchase a new CD or DVD, you’re probably in such a rush to get to the actual disc that you peel off the packaging and open the case as quickly as you can. The disc is what matters to you, and the rest is just filler. However, if you download or make a copy of your content (read: legally), then you may begin to miss the nice and familiar packaging and presentation. Instead of just having a ton of blank discs and cases taking up space, you can use AllCDCovers to to make everything look official.

This site contains a bunch of images of the fronts and backs of many different CD and DVD cases, and for some entries, you’ll even find a picture of the disc itself. This will help you to recreate the real disc experience that can be lacking when you purchase audio or video content over the Internet. While looking for covers to download and print out, you’ll also find related information about the content and other similar content that has been pulled from a number of different sources. AllCDCovers is a simple idea, but it’s a useful one.

[tags]AllCDCovers, CD, DVD, Disc, Packaging, Cover, Cases[/tags]