Zero Waste Weekly: New Method to Recycle Lithium-ion Batteries & Parking Area Made of Used Plastic Bags

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We gathered all the exciting news from the past two weeks about the state of waste to present you with the top stories.

Plastic Bags Reinvented as Asphalt Parking Areas

Preventing the production of new plastics is crucial but finding innovative uses for the billions of tons of plastic we already have is just as important. The Plastics Industry Association's New End Market Opportunities (NEMO) project has debuted a new application for recycled plastic bags – using them to pave a parking lot for LyondellBasell's Technology Center in Cincinnati. The project used the equivalent of 71 000 retail shopping bags to complete the project. The asphalt formulation, which was developed with the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) at Auburn University in Alabama, provides many of the same benefits as traditional asphalt but with improved performance and an increased lifespan – at a reduced cost!

Innovative New Method to Recycle Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are also used in most small electronics, like cell phones and tablets, making them one of the most common small battery types. As renewable energy sources become more and more popular, so are the batteries used to store clean energy. Lithium-ion batteries are widely used but they are not recycled nearly as much. This is in part due to the cost and complex logistics involved in their recycling. Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a new process that restores the cathodes in the batteries to perfect conditions in a more economical, safer and more environmentally friendly way. The process also requires 80% - 90% less energy and emits 75% fewer greenhouse gases than current methods!

Coyuchi Launches a Recycled Cotton Blanket  

Coyuchi, a sustainable home brand based in San Francisco, has released a ‘Full Circle Recycled Cotton Blanket and Throw’ made from 52% recycled and 48% organically grown cotton. The recycled cotton is made from materials that Coyuchi has reclaimed from customers as part of their initiative to get customers to bring in old and unused blankets, in exchange for a 15% discount on their next purchase. The reclaimed blankets were then treated, cleaned and mended for resale on their website Second Home Renewed by Coyuchi. The cotton used in these blankets is cotton from items that were too badly damaged to fix and resell. The repair, re-use and then recycle what can't be repaired and re-used, is central to creating true circular economies and we are here for it!  

Sugarcane and Bamboo Tableware – A New and Greener Alternative to Plastic

Scientists at Northeastern University have come up with a new alternative to single-use plastic cups and tableware made from Sugarcane and Bamboo. The novel materials allow for complete functionality and can break down fully in just 60 days! The materials and manufacturing process are significantly more sustainable and produce a much smaller carbon footprint than the equivalent plastic materials and production process (97% less CO2 than plastic containers and 65% less CO2 than paper products and biodegradable plastic containers). These kinds of innovations take time to implement at scale but their development is the first step towards eliminating single-use plastics.

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Liza & Johanna