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EPA to Propose Fly Ash Rule by Year End

By Ted Nelson
October 27, 2009
File under: Alternative Sources, Energy Sources, Natural Resources, Waste Reduction


After speaking with a few EPA employees, I have some follow-up information related to the

Canary in a Coal Mine article from October 6th.

The EPA intends to propose a rule on the status of fly ash by the end of 2009. There are three broad options for what this rule might be:

  1. All residue of coal combustion may be treated as a hazardous waste.
  2. All residue of coal combustion may be regarded as non-hazardous.
  3. A hybrid approach to regulation. For example, disposal may be considered hazardous while some beneficial uses are considered non-hazardous.

Further information about fly ash is available from the Coal Combustion Products Partnership (C2P2).

Click here to learn more about Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) and Global Warming.

Click here to learn more about the Cap and Trade system.

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5 Smart Strategies to Save Money, Reduce Waste

By Marie Oser
July 20, 2009
File under: Saving money, Waste Reduction


Consider Packaging for Savings at Landfill and Check Out Register

One dollar of every ten-dollar purchase goes to the cost of packaging, and package waste accounts for more than half the trash in the U.S. These days, clever packaging can influence a purchasing decision and can be an important component in building brand recognition.

The purpose of packaging is to prevent damage and provide important information to the consumer about ingredients, usage, manufacturer and country of origin. Unfortunately, the ongoing quest to find new ways to safeguard food and transport products has become a slippery slope on the road to overload.

Smart shoppers know that packaging can add as much as 45 percent to the cost of a product. Shrink-wrapped, pre-cut produce on a plastic tray is twice as costly. Choosing popular prepackaged salad mixes can take a bite out of your food budget while adding to the avalanche of unnecessary package waste clogging our landfills. …read more of 5 Smart Strategies to Save Money, Reduce Waste here

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Biodiesel Dissolves Polystyrene!

By Marie Oser
May 28, 2009
File under: Energy Sources, Research and Development, Waste Reduction


Polystyrene is the practically indestructible material used in packing peanuts, foam cups, egg cartons and produce trays.

Like all traditional plastics, polystyrene is made from petroleum and is a non-sustainable source of major pollution. It is ubiquitous, difficult to recycle, does not biodegrade and resists photosynthesis¹.  In a stunning development, a new study has shown that polystyrene not only dissolves in biodiesel fuel, it increases the power output in the process.

Scientists found that polystyrene packing peanuts dissolved in biodiesel can actually boost the power output of the fuel and get rid of garbage at the same time. …read more of Biodiesel Dissolves Polystyrene! here

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My New Smart Meter

By Ted Nelson
May 3, 2009
File under: Electric Sources, Green Economy, Waste Reduction


This week I was able to see the green revolution at work, when my electricity provider–San Diego Gas & Electric–installed a smart meter on my home (some info on their smart meter program from SDG&E).

The smart meter will be the ground soldier of the smart grid, allowing both utilities and consumers to track demand from individual homes and businesses in real time. Critics remain skeptical about the cost of installing smart meters across the US, but the benefits we are going to see will prove well worth the cost.

Eventually, my smart meter will allow me to monitor my electricity usage online, but this feature will not be available to SDG&E customers until later in the year. Until then the meter’s main benefit is that SDG&E can monitor my demand and identify problems (basically, not much).

Once I can track my usage and the current price of electricity in real time, however, the system will allow me to level off my demand–moving away from peak demand hours when prices are highest–and encourage me to reduce my overall demand. …read more of My New Smart Meter here

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Biodegradable Plastic

By Christie Nash
April 27, 2009
File under: Waste Reduction


These days it is hard to imagine life without plastic. Our food is wrapped in it, the products we buy are packaged in it, many household products are made of it. As hard as we may try, plastic is ubiquitous and hard to avoid.

Despite the fact that most plastics can be recycled these days, a 2003 study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),reported that of the 11.9 million tons of plastic packaging in the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream, only 1.06 million tons (or approximately 8.9 percent) were actually recycled.

Non-recycled plastic in our landfill causes harmful consequences for our soil, air, and water. Furthermore, there is controversy about the presence of toxic chemicals in plastic and about the use of non-renewable resources to create plastic (i.e. petroleum).

As a result, new and innovative ways of creating more environmentally-friendly packaging are now emerging. This new type of plastic can be referred to as “bioplastic.” …read more of Biodegradable Plastic here

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