Matching Items (3)

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Compost Competition

Description

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions cause climate change, and if the world does not lower its GHG emissions soon, it will cause irreversible damage that will have overwhelmingly negative cascading effects

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions cause climate change, and if the world does not lower its GHG emissions soon, it will cause irreversible damage that will have overwhelmingly negative cascading effects on the entire planet (Mann & Kump, 2008). Up to 47% of the United States GHG emissions are the result of energy used to produce, process, transport, and dispose of the food we eat and the goods that we consume (US EPA, 2009). The linear-economy status quo does nothing to slow down climate change because it puts resources into landfills. This project promotes a circular economy which combats climate change by reusing resources that are at the end of their life cycle, e.g., food waste soil. The project was a month-long compost competition at an apartment building in Phoenix, AZ that houses 194 residents. The apartment building, Urban Living 2 (UL2), is subsidized housing owned by Native American Connections (NAC), a non-profit organization. The project’s main objective was to increase waste diversion. This was done through composting and improving zero-waste capacity. The compost competition included activities to change community behavior such as private and public commitments, a community barbecue, a movie night (which replaced a planned field trip), and a visioning meeting. By the end of the project, 22% of the tenants were composting. Over a year-long period, this equates to a diversion of, 6000 pounds from the landfill and 1.59 metric tons of Carbon Dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E). The waste diversion increased from 28% to 38%. Tenant participation trended upwards during the project and as the social norm develops over time, more tenant participation is expected even after the competition is over. The six indicators that were used to determine the zero-waste capacity, collectively went up by 1.24 points on a five-point scale. This project will be used as a model for NAC for its other 16 properties in the Valley.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017-04-10

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Community and Composting in Victory Acres

Description

"Community and Composting in Victory Acres” implemented a pilot composting program for a local neighborhood in an effort to increase community cohesion. Victory Acres is a low-income, culturally diverse neighborhood

"Community and Composting in Victory Acres” implemented a pilot composting program for a local neighborhood in an effort to increase community cohesion. Victory Acres is a low-income, culturally diverse neighborhood located in Tempe that used to have easier access to the Escalante Community Center before the 101 freeway divided the community. Residents of the neighborhoods surrounding ECC do not have access to the Escalante Community Garden except on Community Harvest Days twice a month. The goal of the project was to reconnect broken ties to the ECG through a neighborhood composting service. Through composting, residents could directly benefit from the community garden’s composting capabilities while encouraging a more sustainable method for dealing with food waste. The composting pilot project in Victory Acres was used as a way to mitigate the greenhouse gases emanating from food waste along with other neighborhood issues. The project would encourage aspects of community cohesion, sustainability, and happiness. By the completion of the project, composting in the neighborhood could continue through increased access to the Escalante Community Center Garden. An assessment via survey responses was made on improvements in perceived community connectedness, sustainability, and happiness. The pilot was unsuccessful in gaining a large client base for composting participation, but it was successful in exploring challenges and barriers to implementation of projects in Victory Acres. Several intervention points were explored, several lessons were learned from successful and unsuccessful engagement techniques, and opportunities arose for further future research.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017-04-28

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Assessment and solutions for waste handling of compostable biopolymers

Description

Fossil resources have enabled the development of the plastic industry in the last century. More recently biopolymers have been making gains in the global plastics market. Biopolymers are plastics derived

Fossil resources have enabled the development of the plastic industry in the last century. More recently biopolymers have been making gains in the global plastics market. Biopolymers are plastics derived from plants, primarily corn, which can function very similarly to fossil based plastics. One difference between some of the dominant biopolymers, namely polylactic acid and thermoplastic starch, and the most common fossil-based plastics is the feature of compostability. This means that biopolymers represent not only a shift from petroleum and natural gas to agricultural resources but also that these plastics have potentially different impacts resulting from alternative disposal routes. The current end of life material flows are not well understood since waste streams vary widely based on regional availability of end of life treatments and the role that decision making has on waste identification and disposal.

This dissertation is focused on highlighting the importance of end of life on the life-cycle of biopolymers, identifying how compostable biopolymer products are entering waste streams, improving collection and waste processing, and quantifying the impacts that result from the disposal of biopolymers. Biopolymers, while somewhat available to residential consumers, are primarily being used by various food service organizations trying to achieve a variety of goals such as zero waste, green advertising, and providing more consumer options. While compostable biopolymers may be able to help reduce wastes to landfill they do result in environmental tradeoffs associated with agriculture during the production phase. Biopolymers may improve the management for compostable waste streams by enabling streamlined services and reducing non-compostable fossil-based plastic contamination. The concerns about incomplete degradation of biopolymers in composting facilities may be ameliorated using alkaline amendments sourced from waste streams of other industries. While recycling still yields major benefits for traditional resins, bio-based equivalents may provide addition benefits and compostable biopolymers offer benefits with regards to global warming and fossil fuel depletion. The research presented here represents two published studies, two studies which have been accepted for publication, and a life-cycle assessment that will be submitted for publication.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015