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Posts Tagged ‘reuse’

Photo: Econ.
Thomas Rau and Sabine Oberhuber are prominent proponents of creating a circular economy for a sustainable relationship between humans and the Earth. One approach is to reuse building materials that are liberated during demolition.

In the interest of bringing you some of the latest ideas in sustainability, here is a story on reusing building materials, leasing instead of buying products, and other ideas to lighten the planet’s burden. And they are not just ideas.

Jessica Camille Aguirre reports at the New York Times, “When the Dutch National Bank moved into its Amsterdam headquarters in 1968, the new buildings were epic and stylish. A sprawling Modernist landmark that took up an entire city block off the banks of the Amstel Canal, it was distinguished by a towering high-rise of polished ochre tile. …

“A few decades into the new millennium, the entire complex began to show signs of wear. Tiles fell off the facade. Pipes began to leak. And, perhaps most troubling in a country that prized itself on environmental innovation, its overextended heating systems burned too much fuel.

“In 2020, an architecture firm completed a design plan that would update the original structures and transform the inner courtyard into a public garden. …

“Typically, the fate of a building that has outlasted its usefulness is demolition, leaving behind a huge pile of waste. The Netherlands and other European countries have tried to reduce that waste with regulations. Buildings there are often smashed to pieces and repurposed for asphalt. … A Dutch environmental engineer named Michel Baars thought he could do better than turn [a building] into material for a road.

Mr. Baars considers himself an urban miner, someone who extracts raw materials from discarded infrastructure and finds a market for them. …

“Lean and no-nonsense, Mr. Baars belongs to an emerging group of architects, engineers, contractors and designers who are determined to find a new way to build. This group shares a philosophy rooted in a set of ideas sometimes called the circular or regenerative economy, the cradle-to-cradle approach, or the doughnut economy.

“There are two main tenets to their thinking: First, on a planet with limited resources and a rapidly warming climate, it’s crazy to throw stuff away; second, products should be designed with reuse in mind. The first idea is a recognizable part of our everyday lives: Recycling has retrieved value from household trash for a long time. More recently, the approach has started to gain a toehold in industries like fashion, with secondhand retailers and clothing rental services, and in food production, with compostable packaging. The second takes more forethought and would require companies to rethink their businesses in the most basic ways. Translating either concept to the infrastructure of human settlements requires considering reuse in much longer time scales. …

“Buildings use a prodigious amount of raw materials and are responsible for nearly 40 percent of the world’s climate emissions, half of which is generated by their construction. The production of cement is alone responsible for eight percent of global emissions.

“In recent years, concern about waste and the climate has led cities like Portland, Ore., and Milwaukee to pass ordinances requiring certain houses to be deconstructed rather than demolished. Private companies in Japan have spearheaded new ways of taking high-rises down from the inside, floor by floor. China promised to repurpose 60 percent of construction waste in its recent five-year plan. But perhaps no country has committed itself as deeply to circular policies as the Netherlands.

“In 2016, the national government announced that it would have a waste-free economy by 2050. At the same time, the country held the rotating Council of the European Union presidency, and it made circularity one of the main concepts driving the industrial sector across the bloc. Amsterdam’s city government has set its own goals, announcing plans to start building a fifth of new housing with wood or bio-based material by 2025 and halve the use of raw materials by 2030. Cities like Brussels, Copenhagen and Barcelona, Spain, have followed suit.

“Even in the Netherlands, though, creating a truly circular economy is challenging. Nearly half of all waste in the country comes from construction and demolition, according to national statistics, and a stunning 97 percent of that waste was classified as ‘recovered’ in 2018. But most of the recovered waste is downcycled — that is, crushed into roads or incinerated to produce energy. A 2020 report by the European Environment Agency pointed out that only 3 to 4 percent of material in new Dutch construction was reused in its original form, which means that trees are still being cut for lumber and limestone still mined for cement. …

“Mr. Baars, who runs a circular demolition company called New Horizon, sent a crew of around 15 people to take down the office partitions [in the bank tower]. They packed off interior glass and plasterboard to companies that could make use of the materials. Then, starting at the top of the 86,000-square-foot tower, they began removing the glass facade. A crane lifted pieces to a quay, where they were loaded onto barges in the Amstel Canal for the seven-mile trip upriver to Mr. Baars’s warehouse.”

A 2012 McKinsey report presented at the Davos World Economic Forum suggested that companies were missing out on opportunities to create new business models. “What if, for example, manufacturers could make more money by leasing, rather than selling, their products?

“Thomas Rau, an architect in Amsterdam, is a leading proponent of this idea. In 2015, he appeared in a Dutch documentary called The End of Ownership, in which he didn’t argue for abolishing ownership so much as for shifting it from individuals to manufacturers.

“If manufacturers retain ownership of their products, he argued, they will want to make products that last longer and need fewer repairs. Just as significant, they will want to design stuff that can be easily taken apart and used again. Theoretically, this could help consumers, too. No one wants to own a computer or television or washing machine, Mr. Rau claimed; they just want the services those products offer: computing ability, visual entertainment, textile cleaning. … Think about the speed with which subscription music-streaming services replaced ownership of CDs.” More at the Times, here.

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Photo: Carlin Stiehl/Boston Globe.
The Boston Globe reports that at ChopValue, bags of used chopsticks get “sorted — and made into everything from coasters to furniture.” ChopValue is a Canadian company that franchises factories.

Do you find yourself noticing more often just how many items we use and throw out? Many of us now seek out products that are reusable. We do this on our own because anytime a law is made, companies find a way to get around it.

Our town bans plastic take-home bags and plastic bottled water. Guess what? CVS merely made a heavier plastic bag and called it reusable. Bottled-water companies added a hint of flavoring, a loophole that allows them to sell plastic bottles here. So let’s do what we can on our own for sustainability.

Diti Kohli writes at the Boston Globe, “Elaine Chow believes your chopsticks can be more than utensils. In fact, she knows they can.

“The Savin Hill resident is giving ‘a mountain of chopsticks’ a second life at a new micro-factory that was launched in Charlestown in early September. … There, Chow melds the breakable wooden staples of Asian food into something more: cellphone stands ($11), charcuterie boards ($67), and even tables ($960).

“It’s all possible through ChopValue, a Canadian company that franchises factories that create chopstick-based homewares to people like Chow. … She leads the charge locally by collecting used utensils from more than 100 Greater Boston restaurants and running the machines that turn them into their final form. Chow eventually packs and delivers online orders of cribbage boards and workstation desks — all once used to eat sushi or stir-fry — all over New England.

“The draw for her is sustainability, and the ChopValue micro-factory already reigns as one of the only entirely cyclical businesses in Eastern Massachusetts, Chow said. …

‘People are realizing more and more that we can’t just continue to consume and build up piles of trash. We can do better.’

“Here’s how it works. Four days a week, a ChopValue truck visits restaurants around the region, picking up bags of used chopsticks. That itself is a win-win: Businesses are left with less waste to dispose of, and Chow has raw materials to work with. In six months, she has amassed 2.5 million chopsticks, weighing 15,000 pounds, and that number keeps growing.

“Back at the factory, Chow and three employees sort the sticks by color and separate them into mesh baskets. Then the utensils are dipped into resin and baked for 12 hours at 200 degrees, a process that allows them to harden and the resin to crystalize. Staffers then press a 3,000-pound machine on the sticks to flatten them, and what comes out on the other side is a durable tile — one of three sizes — that can be connected, sanded, and cut into the finished product.

“The process has proved to be labor-intensive, and Chow is on the hunt for two more employees, which is tough in the tight labor market. … After years of working in human relations, she has fallen in love with the factory’s green mission — and the chance to build on a love for woodworking that she picked up during the pandemic. Chow built a picnic table and shed to cover her trash bins during early COVID, before quitting her job and buying the franchise in September 2021.

“ ‘I have forever and ever been obsessive [with] recycling,’ she said. But she found ChopValue while scrolling through social media one day. ‘I actually have the computer algorithm to thank. It finally did a good thing.’ ”

More at the Globe, here.

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Photo: Akhila Ram.
High School student Akhila Ram won a 2022 ‘Most Innovative’ award for her invention to measure groundwater.

When I get discouraged about what we’re doing to the planet, I remind myself of all the young people coming along who like to solve problems.

Today’s post is about those who are addressing water scarcity. Akhila Ram, a high school student in Lexington, Massachusetts, won a science award for her groundwater-measuring gadget. And at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), there are young professors focused on reusing wastewater to save on potable water.

Collin Robisheaux writes at the Boston Globe, “Akhila Ram, a 12th-grader at Lexington High School, isn’t exactly like other high school students. In her free time she enjoys baking, painting – and inventing technologies to map out groundwater levels across the United States in order to monitor problems like water depletion.

“Ram’s invention is a computer model that uses machine learning to interpret data collected by NASA’s GRACE satellite in order to predict groundwater within a few feet of its actual level. While groundwater monitoring tools already exist, they can be expensive to install.

“Ram’s system could give farmers, well owners, and local officials a cost-effective method of monitoring groundwater. According to Ram, this model is the first to use a statistical approach on a large region to predict changes in groundwater levels. …

“The inspiration behind the invention is personal for Ram.

“ ‘My grandparents live in India, and their city faced a major drought,’ Ram said in an interview. ‘It was because of poor management. And I wanted to [do research on] solutions that could be used to properly manage water resources. … I’ve always been really passionate about climate change,’ Ram said. ‘That’s what led me here. I’ve always been trying to come up with ideas in this realm of sustainability and the environment.’ More at the Globe, here.

Meanwhile young college professors at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) are finding ways to make better use of wastewater.

David Staudacher reports at Rise magazine, “Water is our most precious resource, but climate change, pollution, and a growing human population has made this resource even more scarce. More than 2 billion people live in water-stressed countries. …

“To reduce this scarcity, two professors in civil, materials and environmental engineering are looking around in the world to find better ways to reclaim and reuse both fresh water and wastewater.

“To find best practices in water reuse, Associate Professor Sybil Derrible and his team have studied the work done in cities and countries around the world. In search of new water sources, many countries are turning to ocean water. …

“ ‘In places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, there are only a few ways to get water,’ Derrible said. ‘One is from the sea through desalination, and another is by reclaiming used water. Desalination requires a lot of electricity. Recycling used water can save energy and money.’

“Derrible and his team are developing a framework to analyze water circularity — which is the practice of not wasting or losing water and recovering the resources it contains as it is reused in multiple applications — by examining how cities collect, treat, and reuse water. In Singapore, for example, municipalities collect rainwater and recycle wastewater back to industries where it doesn’t need to be treated.

“Derrible wants to create a universal framework that takes into account ideas like this and that can be used anywhere in the world, including places where fresh water is not scarce.

“ ‘Many industries require extensive volumes of water, but the water does not need to be potable. Here, used water that was minimally treated can be sufficient,’ he said. Some places in the United States are already reusing wastewater. In warm climates like Las Vegas, wastewater is used to irrigate golf courses.

“ ‘It’s a big deal because the future of many cities includes reusing water and it is becoming more and more common for many cities in the world because water is a precious resource,’ he said.

“Also, in most countries, water distribution systems consist of large, highly pressurized pipe networks that require an excessive amount of energy and that are vulnerable to large-scale contamination if something goes wrong. However, in Hanoi, Vietnam, water is distributed at low pressures, and most buildings are equipped with a basement tank, a rooftop tank, and separate water treatment processes, resulting in a system that consumes less energy and that is more resilient. …

“Even a city like Chicago — with its vast freshwater resource in Lake Michigan — can benefit from reusing water. Professor Krishna Reddy is working with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC) and several UIC professors on an interdisciplinary project investigating ways to reuse treated wastewater from MWRDGC processing plants in the region and beyond.

“The district discharges some treated water into the Chicago River, where it makes its way into the Mississippi River and ultimately into the Gulf of Mexico. But ‘from a sustainability point of view, this is not a good reuse of a resource,’ Reddy said. ‘We suggest recycling the treated water where it can be reused for beneficial purpose without any further treatment.’ The researchers are gathering data to understand how much water MWRDGC produces, uses, and discharges, and are examining the quality of the water the plants both take in and discharge. One goal is to find new uses for wastewater.

“ ‘One interesting thing is that there are a large number of industries near the water reclamation plants, and they use a lot of water,’ Reddy said. ‘Maybe some of the industries nearby could use the treated water, or it could be used for other applications like agriculture or recreational parks irrigation, toilet flushing, landscaping, and golf courses.’ “

More at the UIC College of Engineering, here.

Photo: Jim Young
Sybil Derrible and his team are developing a framework to analyze “water circularity.

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Photo: Capital Area New Mainers Project.
Abdalnabi family members (left) are seen here with property manager Efrain Ferrusca (right). The family lives in what used to be St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Hallowell, Maine, a building managed by Capital Area New Mainers Project [CANMP].

As church attendance decreases and buildings can no longer be supported by the remaining congregants, some properties are sold or donated to worthy causes. Tara Adhikari and Erika Page write about church transitions at the Christian Science Monitor.

“Victoria Stadnik glides on roller skates down one side of a wooden halfpipe decorated in neon spray paint. Light pours in through stained-glass windows, catching her body as she rotates through the air in the nave of what used to be St. Liborius Catholic Church [in St. Louis]. 

“After the church shut down in 1992, the building served briefly as a homeless shelter. Now, St. Liborius is better known as Sk8 Liborius – a skate park in use informally for a decade, with plans to open officially in three years.

“St. Liborius is one of hundreds of churches across the United States beginning a second life. As congregations dwindle – only 47% of American adults reported membership in a religious organization in 2020, down from 70% in 1999 according to a Gallup poll – churches are closing doors and changing hands. Developers have jumped at the chance to transform the consecrated spaces into luxury condos, cafes, mansions – even a Dollar Tree

“For some, the trend brings with it a sense of dismay. … But in some cities, residents are breathing new life into sacred spaces by giving fresh thought to what it means to serve, and who can constitute a congregation. Groups in St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Hallowell, Maine, are finding that one fundamental purpose of church – community uplift – can take many forms. 

“ ‘These places are very powerful links to the history and the evolution of our neighborhoods,’ says Bob Jaeger, president of Partners for Sacred Places, based in Philadelphia. Even though a church ‘may need repair, even though it may be empty, … it’s a bundle of assets. It’s a bundle of opportunities.’ …

“When Dave Blum, co-owner of Sk8 Liborius, speaks about his plans for the church, his voice echoes out across the sanctuary, ringing with the hope and certainty of a sermon. His team is creating not only a skate park but also an urban art studio where local artists can display and sell their work and children can learn skills ranging from metalworking to photography.  

“In every empty nook and cranny, he sees the potential to support a new congregation: underserved urban youth. He hopes skateboarding will get kids in the door – where vital lessons await. …

“The church was completed in 1889, and after years of neglect, it has a long way to go before it can pass an inspection and be formally opened to the public. Emergency exits, bathrooms, window repair, plumbing, electricity, and heat are just a few of the items on a to-do list of fixes estimated at $1 million. But donations are pouring in from supporters, and local skaters like Ms. Stadnik, who also works as a skating coach, spend weekends helping with repair work.

“ ‘A whole community came together to build these structures because it was important to them. And now, what we’re trying to do is have a whole community come together to maintain this structure,’ says Mr. Blum. 

“Welcoming newcomers into the fold is another function churches often fulfill. In Maine, a local nonprofit is continuing that mission by turning a former holy space into a home and community center.

He appreciates the sacredness of his new home and is just happy to finally have enough space to study. 

“Ali Al Braihi and Mohammed Abdalnabi came to the U.S. as refugees because war – in Iraq for the first and Syria for the second – made staying home impossible. Their journeys were different, but their families both ended up in Hallowell, Maine. Housing was limited, says Mr. Abdalnabi, and squeezing all nine members of his family into a two-bedroom apartment was ‘rough.’ Mr. Al Braihi had the same difficulty.

“Now, the 18 people that make up both families live in what used to be St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. … 

“ ‘What I feel is fortunate and thankful,’ says Mr. Al Braihi, now a college student. His family is Muslim, but he says he appreciates the sacredness of his new home and is just happy to finally have enough space to study. 

“After closing last summer, St. Matthew’s offered the building to Capital Area New Mainers Project (CANMP), which supports the growing number of refugees and other immigrants in the area.

“The congregation chose CANMP because it ‘felt like we would be carrying on the mission,’ says Chris Myers Asch, CANMP’s co-founder and executive director. ‘We take that responsibility very seriously. It’s hallowed ground.’ 

“Mr. Myers Asch and his team of volunteers are currently renovating the sanctuary to create the Hallowell Multicultural Center. When it’s ready, anyone in the community will be able to host events: dinners, talks, movie screenings, weddings – whatever brings people of different backgrounds together.”

More about church reuse at the Monitor, here. No firewall.

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storefront-west-concord

Photo: TripAdvisor
Debra’s Natural Gourmet helps customers cut back on plastic like liquid-soap bottles. They don’t have an answer yet to takeout containers, though.

Every day I’m trying to think of ways to cut back on plastic like the good people at Plastic Free Hackney in England. How am I doing so far? Not great. Plastic is so ubiquitous. But “one and two and 50 make a million,” and there is help from like-minded businesses.

I found a dish-soap concentrate that lets me reuse bottles (etee dish soap), and now a local organic store is letting folks reuse bottles from home over and over by filling up from the store’s large dispensers.

According to Emily Holden at the Guardian, we need to cut back because recycling of plastics is not really working. No one wants them. Holden offers tips on reducing our plastics dependency.

“As plastics corporations ramp up production,” she writes, “they are also promoting a failing recycling system.

Just 9% of plastics get recycled. Traditional plastics are made from extracted oil and gas, and they contribute to the rising temperatures behind the climate crisis.

“Environment experts are increasingly calling for a reduction in plastic use, as the waste accumulates in the oceans, poor countries and even human bodies. Plastics are also burned, as China – which once accepted the bulk of America’s waste – has begun to refuse it. And more than a million Americans lived next to polluting incinerators.

“Significant reductions will require systemic change, researchers say. But there are also some easy tips for individuals who want to cut back on plastics. (If this list is overwhelming and you’re not sure where to start, collect your plastic waste for a month and conduct an audit. Cut back on what you find the most of.)

“1. Carry a reusable bottle, fork/spoon and bag …

“2. Refuse the lid on your coffee cup. … (Some coffee shops will say they are required to give you a lid, citing possible liability for burns.)

“3. Choose products in glass or cans if they are an option. Recycle those materials. … Glass and aluminum cans are much more likely to be recycled. Glass is most efficient when reused (ie. with returnable milk bottles).

“4. When possible, eat in the restaurant instead of taking it to go. Unless you have a physical disability, let your server know in advance that you won’t need a straw.

“5. If you order takeout or delivery, tell the restaurant you don’t want plastic utensils or straws. …

“6. Opt for products with less packaging. Say no to bagged lemons, apples, onions and garlic, and tea that comes in plastic packets. Choose more fresh produce for snacks to avoid individual plastic wrappers.

“7. Shop from the bulk section and use your own containers. …

“8. Use bars of soap (also available for shampoo and shaving) instead of bottles. … For an extra environmental benefit, avoid palm oil.

“9. Use a razor that requires replacing only the individual blades. … You will save money over time. Note that TSA does not allow passengers to fly with individual blades.

“10. Use a bamboo toothbrush or one with a replaceable head.

“11. Buy concentrated cleaners that can be mixed with water in a reusable container. …

“12. Choose frozen, concentrated juice that comes in cardboard tubes instead of the plastic jugs. …

“13. Don’t buy bottled water. …

“14. Buy fewer clothes, or shop secondhand. Wash your clothes less so they last longer. Hang them to dry. …

“15. When shopping online, group as many items together as possible, so you can receive fewer plastic envelopes.”

More here.

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Photo: Toast Ale 
Toast Ale brews its commercial ales with surplus bread at a brewery in Yorkshire. It also pairs up local breweries and bakeries to help them tackle food waste in their own communities.

I have never been a beer drinker, but I have to give a thumbs-up to Toast Ale in the UK because it’s trying to reduce food waste through an unusual brewing process.

Carolyn Beeler of PRI’s The World has the story. “It’s a Wednesday night in central London and the trendy Temple Brew House pub is packed with people out for after-work beers and burgers. A crowd in one corner is sipping intently from half-pint tasting glasses, savoring a beer they helped brew about a month earlier using an unusual ingredient: leftover bread. …

“The beer was brewed at the pub’s tiny in-house brewery in collaboration with Toast Ale, a British craft beer company that uses waste bread to make beer on a commercial scale.

“ ‘In the UK, 44 percent of all bread is wasted,’ says Toast Ale’s chief brand and finance officer Louisa Ziane. ‘So we take surplus bread from bakeries and sandwich makers, and we replace a third of the barley that would otherwise have been used to brew, upcycling bread that would have otherwise been wasted.’ …

“Once the company starts turning a profit, it plans to donate those profits to Feedback, a charity that fights against food waste and shares a founder, Tristram Stuart, with the beer brand. (The company says it’s been able to make donations to Feedback already through its local collaborations.) …

“Around the world, about one-third of the food that’s produced ends up going to waste. That’s a big problem for the world’s hungry, but it’s also a big contributor to climate change: Producing that food emits as much greenhouse gases as many individual countries. …

“ ‘There are bakeries up and down the country who are left with surplus bread at the end of the day, and there are also over 2,000 breweries in the UK,’ Ziane says, so Toast is playing matchmaker with these local bakeries and breweries. …

Toast says it works with bakeries to make sure they’ve exhausted the options to get bread to people who would eat it before agreeing to turn it into beer. …

“Michael Mulcahy, who helped stir up that mash with a red plastic shovel, says, ‘It takes it away from being a hippie environmentalist thing,’ Mulcahy says. ‘It’s the pub. It’s the guys at the bar drinking beer, it’s football and baseball.’

Toast’s beer recipe is online for home-brewers to try, and the company has franchised or licensed its brand in South Africa, Brazil and Iceland. Last year they expanded to the New York City area.” More here.

My husband once tried home brewing, but it was a lot of work, and the beer that resulted didn’t taste as good as the beers he could buy. Still, if someone is into home brewing, the Toast recipe could be fun to try.

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What to do about our throwaway culture? Well, Sweden has a proposal: tax breaks to encourage people to get things repaired.

Charlie Sorrel at fastcoexist.com explains that the idea involves “halving the tax paid on repairs and increasing taxes on unrepairable items. …

” ‘If we want to solve the problems of sustainability and the environment we have to work on consumption,’ Sweden’s finance and consumption minister Per Bolund told the Local. ‘One area we are really looking at is so-called “nudging.” That means, through various methods, making it easier for people to do the right thing.’ …

“The proposed legislation would cut regular tax on repairs of bikes, clothes, and shoes from 25% to 12%. Swedes would also be able to claim half the labor cost of appliance repairs (refrigerators, washing machines and other white goods) from their income tax. Together, these tax cuts are expected to cost the country around $54 million per year. This will be more than paid for by the estimated $233 million brought in by a new ‘chemical tax,’ which would tax the resources that go into making new goods and computers.

“In 2015, France passed a law requiring manufacturers to label products with information about how long spares will be available, and also requires free repair or replacement for the first two years of the product’s life. That’s another step forward, but it’s also cheaper for manufacturers to replace a broken cellphone than to repair it.

“Apple takes a third path—it swaps out your broken phone for a new one, often free of charge, and then breaks down your old unit, reusing its internals if possible, or recycling them.”

More here. Not sure how you benefit if you do the repair yourself. But knowing those Swedes, they’ll figure out something.

Photo: Geri Lavrov/Getty Images

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One of the things I like about twitter is being exposed to stories I probably wouldn’t read about in the New York Times. This one is from a UK website called Foodism and highlights an effort to build businesses from food leftovers that might otherwise be wasted.

“It’s 4pm at Borough Market and the gaggle of children are elated, having spent the day growing, buying and selling market produce. Now trading time is over, and it’s time for their little stall to close, there’s only one question left.

” ‘What will you do with your leftover produce?’ asks development manager David Matchett, who runs the market’s Young Marketeers project for local schools. ‘We can make it into leftovers for tomorrow,’ pipes up one kid. ‘Or we can give it to people!’ ‘We give our food to my old auntie,’ shouts another.

” ‘I’ve been running this project five years,’ Matchett tells [Foodism reporter Clare Finney], ‘and not once in that time has a child ever suggested throwing the food away.’ ”

Other uses are found, Finney writes, giving a new heat source at home as an example.

“The heat source is used coffee grounds, recycled by the innovative clean technology company Bio-bean into pellets for biomass boilers, biodiesel and briquettes for wood burners. …

“With its sharp branding, smart technology and simple but potentially revolutionary innovation, Bio-bean is irresistibly representative of the new generation of companies applying principles of modern business, as well as slick design, to an issue that can often appear stale and tasteless: wasted food. …

” ‘These are viable businesses,’ Kate Howell, director of development and communications at Borough Market, says of Bio-bean, and of those other companies turning food waste or surplus into consumables. Indeed, many of the biggest names in the world today actually started here with the market, which has provided a seedbed for sustainable businesses like Rubies in the Rubble, which makes a range of chutneys and sauces from supermarket rejects, Chegworth Valley of apple juice fame, and the street food stall selling meat from previously unwanted billy kids, Gourmet Goat.’ …

“A few months ago, [the grocery chain] Sainsbury’s launched a trial of banana breads made from bananas too bruised to sell in store, to enormous accolades. ‘Originally we estimated they would sell 1,000 loaves,’ says Paul Crew, director of sustainability at Sainsbury’s, with palpable excitement. ‘Customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and we’ve already sold 3,000, saving just as many bananas.’ ”

Hey, that’s what we all do with bruised bananas! Now you and I can claim to be trendy as well as thrifty.

Read the Foodism article here.

Photo: Foodism
Bio-bean turns used coffee grounds into pellets for biomass boilers, biodiesel and briquettes for wood burners.

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