Waste Solution For Not-Recycling Houston: One Trash Bin For All Waste.

Laura Spanjian - City of Houston Sustainability DirectorHow do you get a city with a low 14% recycling rate and no enforceable recycling laws to start separating their trash and divert it from landfills?

You don’t…. you bring in some garbage sorting technology and let it do the work. The City of Houston knew it would be tough to educate and motivate their residents to separate their trash so they went out and found companies that process it for them. Spearheading the effort is Laura Spanjian, Houston’s sustainability director. From Fast Co.Exist:

“Spanjian’s dream system combines many of these technologies: It would take everyone’s trash in one bin and send it to a facility that pulls out every piece of recyclable material and separates out food waste. Recyclable commodities would be sold, and food waste would be turned into compost or put in an anaerobic digester to power facilities or trucks. Another portion of the waste would be turned into gasoline.”

Brilliant – put all the trash in one bin and let the specialized machines sort it. Much better than the alternative of sending all of the trash to landfills.

Here are some of the companies Ms. Spanjian found that can divert and reuse/recycle Houston’s trash:

“One company cited by Spanjian, Organic Energy Corporation, offers a one-bin waste sorting solution. A company called BHS operates a material recovery facility in San Jose, California–but it doesn’t deal with food waste. ZeroWaste can take care of that; the company operates anaerobic digesters to deal with food waste in the city. And CRI Catalyst Company–a Houston-based company–offers a technology that turn biomass into gasoline or diesel.”

Not all cities are like San Francisco – which diverts 80% of their trash from landfills. If Ms. Spanjian’s model is successful, other low recycling rate cities can copy and implement a scaled version of her system. Dog wags tail. [Fast Co.Exist]


Apple’s iCloud Service Will Be Partly Powered By Solar

Apple's new data center in Maiden North CarolinaApple is the next tech company to move toward renewable energy as a source of power for their data storage. In this case, it’s for Apple’s iCloud service which now has over 100 million users. The data center is located in Maiden NC and it’ll generate 20 megawatts of power annually via solar at their 100 acre facility. Apple is also using captured rainwater for cooling which will be chilled during off-peak hours and recycled 35 times.

Apple managed to keep details about the iCloud data center secret, even kept it from appearing on Google maps until June 2011, but now their talking and taking pride in their LEED Platinum certification. Seems like Apple is moving toward using renewable energy in the same stealthy way they release their products. [Wired]

Related article: Looks like Bloom Energy is behind Apple’s massive fuel cell farm