On The Radio – 38 million pieces of trash found on remote Pacific island


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The most recent recorded density of litter on Henderson Island was 671 items per square meter. (Jennifer Lavers/Associated Press). 
Jenna Ladd| June 19, 2017

This week’s On The Radio segment discusses how an extremely remote island in the Pacific ocean bares the highest litter density in the world. 

Transcript: Henderson Island is one of the most remote islands in the world and is also the most affected by pollution from plastic debris.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

When researchers traveled to the tiny, uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, they were astonished to find an estimated 38 million pieces of trash washed up on the island.

The island is situated at the edge of the South Pacific gyre, where ocean currents meet in a vortex that captures floating trash, carrying some of it from as far away as Scotland.

Over 99 percent of the debris on the island is made of plastic—most pieces are unidentifiable fragments. The researchers say that fishing-related activities and land-based refuse likely produced most of the debris.

The researchers say the density of trash was the highest recorded anywhere in the world, despite Henderson Island’s extreme remoteness. The island is located about halfway between New Zealand and Chile and is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.

To learn more about the island, visit iowaenvironmentalfocus.org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

City council extends recycling services to all Iowa City residents


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Changes to Iowa City code make curbside recycling services available to all residents of Iowa City. (Mike Mahaffle/flickr)
Jenna Ladd | October 20, 2016

Iowa City council voted unanimously on Tuesday to ramp up recycling efforts in the city.

The first consideration of the amendment to City Code Title 16, Article 3H passed  7-0. It requires recycling services to be available for all multi-family units; currently the city only services single-family households up to four units. Changes made to city code will also provide curbside food-waste collection services and prohibit residents from dumping computers and televisions into the municipal landfill.

City council member Rockne Cole is a long-time proponent of the measure. He said, “We’re looking at diverting over 1,700 tons of material from the landfill.”

University of Iowa and community environmental groups have been advocating for a city-wide recycling program for years. Jacob Simpson, UISG City Council Liaison, said that these changes benefit students who wish to continue recycling after moving off campus. He said, “At the university, we have the opportunity for students to recycle in the dorms and practice something that they’ve learned, and then a lot of the time, they have to go off campus, and they don’t have that ability,” Simpson added, “I think now that the city has taken this step to provide this in off-campus buildings, we cannot just see a benefit to Iowa City, but I think this is going to be something that benefits the state and beyond, as people become more accustomed to recycling.”

City director of Transportation Services Chris O’Brien said that all residential complexes built after January 1, 2017 must immediately comply with the new recycling policy. Landlords that own existing dwellings will be granted a grace period to get in compliance.

City council member Cole added, “It’s a real great victory for the University of Iowa, our community and most importantly, the environment.”

Iowa Public Radio: Meat Producers Ignore Pleas For Health, Environmental Reform


Photo by nooccar; Flickr

According to Bob Martin, the executive director of the Pew commission the meat industry has failed to eliminate the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics — though the Food and Drug Administration has restricted the use of some specific drugs and set voluntary guidelines.

On the animal waste issue, Martin adds, the Environmental Protection Agency has not followed through with its promise to do a full inventory of waste practices and enact higher waste storage and disposal standards at concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, that the commission had recommended.

To learn more, head over to Iowa Public Radio. 

From Trash to Energy


Photo by Jeffery Beall; Flickr

 

Waste Management, a Houston company, will break ground this week on a $7 million methane gas recovery facility at Iowa’s biggest landfill in eastern Polk County.  Continue reading

New industrial and electronics recycling facility


Photo by Bert van Dijk, Flickr.
Photo by Bert van Dijk, Flickr.

A new industrial and electronic recycling center has opened in Baxter.

H&W Recycling accepts items such as refrigerators and cell phones. The company scraps what they receive for metal and then sells it to a Metal Recycling facility in Des Moines. This business should help keep appliances and electronics out of the landfill.

Electronic waste is responsible for 40 percent of the lead and 75 percent of the heavy metals in landfills. Both materials are toxic and can leach into the groundwater if disposed of incorrectly.

Read the full story here.

New hog waste technology out of North Carolina shows promise


Photo by ekornblut, Flickr

Three months ago, the Iowa Environmental Focus created a radio segment on recent environmental practices in hog waste management.

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times posted an article on another hog waste management technique being used near Yadkinville, North Carolina.

With funding from Duke University and Google, a North Carolina hog farmer installed a waste-processing system that digests hog waste and converts the methane from the waste into electricity.

As a result of this waste-processing system the hog farm has less environmental impact, less odor, healthier hogs and a cheaper energy bill.

For the full article, click here.

On the Radio: Le Mars sets recycling standard for Iowa


Photo by Jimmy Emerson, Flickr

Check out this week’s radio segment here.  It features the efforts of our latest sustainable city – Le Mars. 

After a staggering increase in recycling Le Mars now stands as a model for Iowa’s towns. Continue reading