Consumers of fast food meals are used to the drill: You eat, you throw your garbage away and you leave. But what about all those styrofoam cups? You can’t recycle expanded polystyrene, and it does not decompose in landfills. Good news: Chick-fil-A restaurant has found a way to answer that dilemma with an innovative solution. Click here to see it:
The restaurant has been doing this since 2012, when it first decided to do something about waste in the landfills. Here’s what the company says about its dedication to green innovation:
From the beginning it’s been a love-hate relationship. Customers love the foam cup’s ability to keep drinks cold without getting soggy (we get lots of messages about cups), but hate the environmental impact of throwing them away.
So in 2012, Chick-fil-A became the first fast food company to take on polystyrene. Agile entrepreneurs helped us find our way in creating the voluntary foam recycling program many restaurants use today. Foam cups collected from the restaurants that opt in for the program are used to make benches and writing pens.
The process is complex. The journey requires three facilities located across the country. So go ahead, toss your cup – lid, straw, liquid and all – into a foam cup recycling bin, and pull up a seat to see the fascinating process that gives foam cups a second life. Via Inside Chich-fil-A)
A few weeks ago I shared how innovative technology can now suck the smog out of the air in large, polluted cities. Speaking of green technology and air quality, a British Columbia company, Carbon Engineering, built the first air-capture CO2 demo plant. This technology works, and is now ready to be implemented on a larger scale.
Check out this video:
Like trees, air-capture technology traps CO2 from the ambient air. However, as the team at Carbon Engineering points out, “planting enough trees in the numbers needed would require diverting vast amounts of agriculturally productive land. In fact, to absorb enough CO2 as an air-capture facility, trees would require roughly a thousand times more land.” Unlike trees, however, air-capture plants can be built on land that cannot be cultivated, such as deserts.
David Keith, a professor at Harvard University School of Engineering and the executive chairman of Carbon Engineering, together with a team of scientists has been doing CO2 capturing at a Prototype Contactor at the University of Calgary for several years already. The prototype system built at the University can absorb emissions from about 14-15 vehicles or about 100 kilos of carbon dioxide per day.
I’ve blogged in the past about the incredible smog problem faced by many major cities around the world. There have been many innovative ideas over the years to clean up our air, but this one caught my eye for its unique solutions. There are towers being built that act as giant vacuum cleaners by sucking the smog from the air.
Imagine being about to purify millions of smoggy cubic feet of air each hour? I spotted this article that explains how a Dutch designer is working on the world’s largest air purifier:
The Smog Free Tower, as it’s called, is a collaboration between Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde, Delft Technology University researcher Bob Ursem, and European Nano Solutions, a green tech company in the Netherlands. The metal tower, nearly 23 feet tall, can purify up to 1 million cubic feet of air every hour. To put that in perspective, the Smog Free Tower would need just 10 hours to purify enough air to fill Madison Square Garden. “When this baby is up and running for the day you can clean a small neighborhood,” says Roosegaarde.
It does this by ionizing airborne smog particles. Particles smaller than 10 micrometers in diameter (about the width of a cotton fiber) are tiny enough to inhale and can be harmful to the heart and lungs. Ursem, who has been researching ionization since the early 2000s, says a radial ventilation system at the top of the tower (powered by wind energy) draws in dirty air, which enters a chamber where particles smaller than 15 micrometers are given a positive charge. Like iron shavings drawn to a magnet, the the positively charged particles attach themselves to a grounded counter electrode in the chamber. The clean air is then expelled through vents in the lower part of the tower, surrounding the structure in a bubble of clean air. Ursem notes that this process doesn’t produce ozone, like many other ionic air purifiers, because the particles are charged with positive voltage rather than a negative.