Converting food waste into energy


Compost pile. Photo by Joi Ito; Flickr
Compost pile. Photo by Joi Ito; Flickr

Wastewater treatment plants are on the cutting edge of renewable energy production, using technology that allows them to convert trash into valuable energy.

Food waste is first shipped to wastewater facilities, where it is mixed with sewage. The combined waste produces a gas, composed mostly of methane, that can be burned as fuel. In addition to this biogas, some facilities, like Des Moines’ wastewater treatment plant, are even able to produce an organic mixture that serves as an effective fertilizer.

This method is also beneficial to the environment, since methane is a greenhouse gas and would contribute to global warming if released into the atmosphere.

There are currently 15 facilities in the United States that utilize this technology, compared to thousands in Europe. Experts predict that this trend, along with composting, will continue to grow and innovate.

For more information, read the article at Environment 360.

For instructions on how to create a compost bin for your home, click here.

Holiday recycling guide


Photo by sonofnels, Flickr.

Holiday gift giving can result in an excess of waste – wrapping paper, styrofoam, bubble wrap, plastic packaging – but just how much of that material is recyclable?

A recent article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette seeks to provide a bit of clarity on this issue through the following sorting guide:

    • Wrapping paper – not recyclable, must be placed in the garbage
    • Tissue paper – not recyclable, must be place in the garbage or reused
    • Styrofoam – not recyclable, must be placed in the garbage
    • Shirt boxes – recyclable with the tissue paper removed
    • Cardboard toy boxes – recyclable with any plastic handles or twist ties removed
    • Shredded paper – recyclable, place in a paper bag to reduce the mess
    • Plastic bubble wrap – if bubbles are popped can be recycled at grocery stores with plastic bags

For more information on holiday recycling, check out the full article.