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]


CEMEX Cement Plant In Kentucky Reduced Emissions By Switching Power Source From Coal To Scrap Tires.

CEMEX-Kosmos Cement KilnThis is news to me – burning scrap tires to make cement is better for the environment than using coal. According to an article in the Courier-Journal, emissions of nitrogen oxides (a component of smog) have dropped by 37% ever since the CEMEX cement plant in Kosmos KY switched their fuel source from coal to scrap tires in December 2010.

From the Courier-Journal, here’s how the tire-powered cement kiln works:

“Two rollers grab a scrapped rubber tire before pitching it at 85 mph as far as 110 feet into the bowels of the kiln — where it vaporizes in an instant in 3,000-degree temperatures.”

We need our cement so we have to choose “what’s less worse”: coal (30 tons/hour) or recycled tires (3-6 tons/hour)?

After reading the article in C-J and watching the video, I couldn’t help feeling that CEMEX’s switch from coal to scrap tires isn’t going to end well. It’s kind of like the 1940’s advertisements with doctors recommending one cigarette brand over another. Consume less. [Courier-Journal]


Nubagg Gives Plastic Grocery Bags A Second Life. TrashRacs™ Work The Same Way But Are Out Of Sight.

Reuse your plastic grocery bags with Nubagg.Nubagg is a simple solution that lets you put your possibly landfill-bound plastic grocery bags to work as garbage bags. The Nubagg is built out of recycled materials and becomes the trash can in your kitchen by holding the plastic grocery bags. It’s now listed on crowd-source website Indiegogo and a $20 donation will get you a Nubagg. Nubagg is hoping to raise $15,000 by November 22.

TrashRacs™Another solution that reuses your plastic grocery bags for trash is the $14.99 TrashRacs™. TrashRacs™ are great because they not only put your normally thrown-out plastic grocery bags to work as garbage bags but the TrashRac™ adds a lid and will hid your trash out of sight and under your sink. [Inhabitat]


Bi-Weekly Garbage Pickup May Be The Key To Reduce Waste And Drive Up Recycling Rates

Waste Management in Portland.Great article in the NY Times, “Cities Get So Close to Recycling Ideal, They Can Smell It,” about the success of waste handling programs in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. What stood out most was the City of Portland’s switch to bi-weekly garbage pickups and how it has increased recycling rates. Yes, more people are putting their garbage in the recycle bin because they produce trash beyond the twice-a-month pickup. But overall, 44% less waste is being deposited in the landfill thanks to the program.

Sanford and Son Salvage TruckThe bi-weekly trash pickup is a simple solution that’ll definitely motivate people to recycle more. We tried to get that type of garbage service where we live and it’s just not available. So now, about once a month, I load up my car with one 32 gallon trash can and head to the dump. It’s my stinky, flying-bug infested, Sanford & Son’ish monthly date with the dump that is propelled by cheap and guided by Jubbling. [NY Times]


Dear Frito Lay – Please Make Your SunChip Bags Louder! XO Jubbling

“Yeah, thanks for the noisy ass, hard to grip cellophane bag Frito lay. Now I can’t hear my f****ng tv over your goddamn annoyingly loud bag. Congrats, you just lost a customer. Food for thought!”
Comment from Youtube.com

sunchips-biodegradableAccording to Greenbiz.com, Frito Lay is going to pull their compostable SunChip bags off the shelf and return to the old bags on all flavors except “Original”. It seems the loud bags are not popular with their louder customers who have taken their disapproval to Facebook, Youtube and directly to Frito Lay.

garbage-landfill2Yes, it is more difficult to sneak a SunChip from the new compostable bag but please, pour the damn chips in a bowl if you can’t function with the noise. It’s no wonder that most of the planet think we’re a bunch of mamby pamby’s – especially when the inconvenience of a biodegradable chip bag gets pulled from the market because a few vocal consumers think it’s too loud. What’s ironic about the SunChips bag is that each time it’s opened, it audibly reminds us that we should compost it; kind of a compost-trigger.

Landfill wins again but we can limit their victory by continuing to buy SunChip’s in their original flavor which will still come in the compostable bag. And that sound you here every time you open a new bag of Original SunChips, that’s the sound of Jubbling.