Archive for August, 2011

A Bike Make Entirely From Recycled Plastic

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

The Frii is a bike made exclusively out of recycled plastic. This snap together sensation is both lightweight and durable- a true innovation for green design. Mastermind Israeli designer Dror Peleg came up with the concept and design for this recycled 1-speed bike that’s intended for quick trips through the city streets.

Production of the Frii entails using recycled plastic that is melted and injection molded to form each unique part of the bike. The body of the bike is the largest component where at the bottom sits a pedal crank that runs a belt to the rear wheel hub instead of a chain. There are no external brakes- just a BMX style brake system where peddling backwards causes the bike to stop.

Forks to the 20-inch plastic wheels are kept short for added strength. Solid tires are injected over the rims during the manufacturing process. The seat does look uncomfortable but the Frii is not for long, smooth rides. And of course, the colors and modular design are electrifying.

More Evidence of Green Packaging Growth

Friday, August 26th, 2011

World demand for green packaging is expected to rise 5.7% per year to $212 billion in 2015. We’ve been tracking these projections for a couple of years now. Without becoming redundant, it should be noted that these growth numbers have been consistent. A lot of speculation rose over the green packaging market a few years ago that is was a passing fad. But surviving a terrible world economy is a tell tale sign that the demand is real.

This new growth projection for green packaging comes from a new study by the Freedonia Group. The study shows recycled-content packaging as being the largest product type by far. However, recycled-content packaging will see the slowest increases due to the maturity of products such as metal cans and glass containers. Reusable and degradable packaging will experience above-average growth with degradable packaging in particular seeing double digit annual growth rates. Though degradable packaging’s demand will increase significantly, it will only make up approximately 1% of the overall green packaging market by 2015.

The largest regional green packaging market in the world will remain Asia/Pacific at $79 billion because of its large food and beverage industries. Asia will see some of the fastest growth in India, China, and Indonesia. Other countries such as Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and Mexico will see healthy gains as well.

Accounting for 23% of the green packaging market in 2010, the US has the largest market share by a long shot. Other mature markets can be found in Germany as well as Japan though Japan’s growth is expected to slow down quite a bit.

Stay tuned…..although at this point we can predict the same type of story in the next study.

Ford and Toyota Team Up To Build New Hybrid Engine

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Ford and Toyota are teaming up to make a gas-electric hybrid engine to power pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles. The signed deal has both companies sharing development costs to make a hybrid engine that is more affordable to bring it to the market faster. Hybrid automobiles have been the talk of the auto industry since gas spiked in 2007 but because of how expensive the options are, American consumers have yet to buy in. And whose to blame them in the middle of the biggest recession since the Great Depression?

Another reason that hybrids have not grown popular in the US is because Americans find trucks and SUVs necessary- more so than other countries. And hybrid options up to this point for trucks and SUVs have been underwhelming. That is the main reason that this deal between automobile giants has been struck. Toyota’s Executive Vice President for R&D, Takeshi Uchiyamada, said about hybrid technology for trucks and SUVs “Those kind of models are indispensable to American customers. And providing them with our hybrid technology will help conserve energy and reduce output for greenhouse gas here in the US”.

Hybrid trucks will help automakers meet stricter government regulations into the future. In the US, the fleet of new cars and trucks will be required to average 56.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

It will take a year for Ford and Toyota to figure out who will do what research and about 2-3 years before a system can be developed. No speculation yet as to how gas mileage their engine will get.

California Eliminating Polystyrene Foam Takeout Packaging

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Approximately 1,369 tons of polystyrene foam goes into U.S. landfills daily. By volume, polystyene foam takes up 25 to 30 percent of total landfill area. These figures make it one of the most environmentally unfriendly types of waste around.

Big cities in California such as San Francisco, Oakland, and Huntington Beach have banned the use of polystyrene foam takeout packaging. You can now add Salinas to the list. Salinas city council banned the containers at a 6-1 vote on August 16th which will officially go into effect February 12, 2012. The law also extends into banning all disposable food serviceware including plates, cups, bowls, trays, cup lids, straws, utensils, etc. The law will apply to all establishments that sell or provide prepared food for takeout.

There are a total of 39 bans on polystyrene takeout packaging in California. Los Angeles has bans in place at citywide facilities and events. A bill will be voted on by the state on August 25th that looks to phase out polystyrene takeout packaging statewide by 2016.

Various cities up the West Coast including Seattle and Portland have also banned these containers. If packaging companies are slow to evolve into the new world of sustainable packaging, they most likely will be forced to by law to help preserve the environment. It’s no question that our eco-conscious society is changing the dynamics of the industry.

Pacific Perfumes Fuses Culture and Sustainability in Packaging

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Pacific Perfumes of New Zealand creates solid perfumes that capture the essence of the South Pacific. Their perfumery takes special skill blending botanical essences of flower, wood, fruits and resin, producing unique fragrances. Perfumes from Pacific Perfumes have never been tested on animals and ingredients are all from the plant world.

Elegant perfume needs elegant packaging, sustainable packaging in this case. Pacific Perfumes went with a design by Mike Peters that ended up winning the HBA’s International Package Design Award (IPDA). Lets explore….

The perfume itself is packaged in a simple wooden pot that is compact and beautiful to touch. A clever snap-to-system carved in the wood keeps the lid secure. The wood is made from sustainable Beech sourced from certified sustainable New Zealand forests. For every tree that is logged, another one is planted in its place.

Another piece of sustainable Beech is used to hold the wooden pot of perfume inside of a recyclable paperboard box. It is also a little gift. The shape of a Nikau tree (Palm tree that is native to New Zealand only) pops out, as pictured, of the Beech perfume holder to further symbolize the culture of New Zealand.

Schools Made Out Of Plastic Bottles

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Bottle schools are schools built from “waste” plastic soda bottles & other inorganic trash. Entire communities work together, young & old, to make the dream of education reality.

A non-profit organization called Hug It Forward is the catalyst uniting these communities in Guatemala where kids are being taught environmental education and adults learn different types of skilled labor. The result is a wonderful facility, which is a symbol of unity, to educate present and future generations. So far, 10 bottle schools have been built around Guatemala.


The first project in Granados, Guatemala, over 5,000 plastic bottles were used to build two classrooms, containing 2053lbs of trash and using 9720lbs of cement. 297 children and youth currently attend the school, which serves a municipality of 13,860 people throughout 95.75 square miles.

By building with “waste” materials, leveraging the volunteer labor of the community, and by ensuring that 100% of donations are spent on projects (no money is taken for overhead or salaries), Hug It Forward can build a two-classroom school for around $12,000.

Bottled or Boxed Wine: What’s Better For The Earth?

Friday, August 5th, 2011

In our increasingly eco-conscious culture, more and more people are trying to figure out the greenest method for different things. How about wine packaging? In the past few years, boxed wine is gaining steam as a practical way of packaging wine. Because of various benefits and sleek packaging design, boxed wines are less and less associated with being a cheap box of Franzia. Oh yes, I said Franzia.

But a debate has now surfaced as to which method of wine packaging is greener? Bottling or boxing wine? Lets take a look at some facts.

Bottled wine is heavier and less efficient that boxed wine from a packaging perspective. Unless you’re buying wine local (In a bottle), a lot of energy has been used shipping wine so that it arrives safely for your consumption. In fact, it has been said that if you live on the East Coast, buying wine from Europe is more eco-friendly than buying wine from California. This is because of the boat ride the wine is getting from Europe rather than the long truck ride from California. Since so much wine travels incredible distances, the burning of fossil fuels really adds up.

Some wineries have worked towards lighter bottles to bottle their wine in. Fetzer Vineyards in California have reduced their carbon footprint by 14% by using lighter bottles. Lightening wine bottles by 3.3 ounces will reduce a vineyard’s glass usage by 2,100 tons. Wow.

Though lightening the weight of the wine bottles is good, boxed wine ends up being tons lighter in weight than the lightest wine bottles out there. Boxed wine is also closeable which makes it last longer than bottled wine- reducing the temptation of feeling you have to finish a bottle of wine within hours of the time it’s corked. But boxed wine isn’t perfect. Boxes don’t work for aging wines. You cannot let vintage wines age in your basement in a box.

The biggest advantage that bottled wine has is that it’s easily recycled. You’d think that boxed wine would be just as easy to recycle but it’s not. Especially in the US where we are so far behind in that regard. Although adding up the energy it takes to melt and transport glass for recycling and the low-volume landfill use that boxed wine uses, it’s hard to see it as a clear cut advantage.


So it seems that the answer to which is a greener packaging method for wine, boxed wine comes out on top. But will it be the preferred wine packaging of the future? I have to admit, there is something to be said about browsing hundreds of labels in the wine store and bringing one home and corking it. But the fact that boxed wines don’t sacrifice taste and stay fresher longer is attractive as well.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you had boxed in wine recent years and what was your experience with the taste?