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Making plastic out of greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gases, as we all know, cause climate change. We create CO2, methane, nitrous oxide and so on as we burn fuels in our cars, heat our homes, and generally go about our business – it’s a waste product of modern civilization. They have no value, so there’s no interest in capturing greenhouse gases. We’re […]

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plastic sea

Plastics in a linear economy

Last week I wrote about how we may end up with more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. It’s a striking projection from The New Plastics Economy report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum. We’re on our way to that surreal milestone because a whole third of plastic waste, […]

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More plastic in the sea than fish by 2050

There’s an extraordinary report out from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation this week, part of the flurry of ideas that always accompanies the World Economic Forum. It’s called The New Plastics Economy and it details the role of plastic in global industry, what it’s used for and where it ends up, and how circular economy principles […]

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bagasse power station

Two unusual ways to make energy from waste

A few days ago we had a guest post on glycerol, a waste product from the biodiesel production process. There’s lots of it these days as the biodiesel industry grows, and it turns out it has some useful applications, including generating electricity. There are lots of different waste products that can be used to create […]

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Figure 1

Guest post: An introduction to glycerol

A couple of months ago I wrote about Formula E and came across a technology I hadn’t heard of before: the glycerol generator, which uses a waste product to generate electricity. Neil Hollow, environmental biotechnology expert and author of No Oil in the Lamp, mentioned that he had worked with glycerol. It seemed like a […]

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30 year sweathshirt

The 30 year sweatshirt

The oldest item of clothing in my wardrobe that I still wear is a German Army surplus shirt that I bought in the early 90s. You know the type – it’s an army surplus staple beloved of grunge kids and outdoor types. I presume it has something to do with the country’s compulsory military service […]

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Saving paper with disappearing ink

Decades on from the anticipated ‘paperless office’, global paper consumption continues to rise. More paper is recycled than ever before, but the rising demand from developing economies is piling the pressure on the world’s forests. It is estimated that 200 million trees were cut down to provide China with paper in 2013. That is driving […]

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Olleco’s circular economy cooking oil

Yesterday I spotted a truck outside my local pub, branded with the name Olleco. I’d never heard of them, but they helpfully have their entire business model on the side of their vehicles: ‘Olleco supply cooking oil, collect used cooking oil, and convert to biodiesel.’ I thought it sounded like a nice example of the […]

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Ecovative's Mushroom® Packaging cradle wine shipper

Replacing plastics with … mushrooms

In a circular economy, all materials either need to be reusable or safely biodegradeable. Many common forms of plastic are neither of those things, and are thus something of an environmental hazard. Oil based and non-biodegradeable, plastics accumulate in landfill or in ocean gyres, and accumulate in the bodies of birds and animals too. But […]

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Five ways to close the loop

One of the key aspects of the circular economy is to recapture materials as things come to the end of the lifespan. Whether we’re talking about a glass bottle, a pair of jeans or a mobile phone handset, there is a value to the materials that is lost if the item just ends up in […]

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