Tag Archives: sustainable

The Sustainable World of Packing Peanuts and Bubble Wrap

Here at PNS Energy we ship and receive enough packing peanuts, bubble wrap, cardboard, foam, and plastic to last a lifetime.  Shipping practices are oftentimes the most flexible part of the order processing procedure, yet it is widely known that the packaging and shipping arm of most companies are fairly unsustainable. We have all experienced the shocking feeling of opening up a package and wondering why 6 billion foam peanuts were used to ship a candle, then outraged when it is discovered that those peanuts are Styrofoam and cannot be recycled or composted.

We know first hand that the elimination of packaging all-together is highly unlikely (solar cells break very easily) but we can continually strive to become more efficient in our packing and selection of materials. We are seeing more and more companies and individuals that use recyclable or reusable material in their shipping and packing processes. With that said, I believe there is great potential and opportunity for us to come up with a widespread solution to sustainable packaging. This is something that should, and could easily be accomplished right now. Innovative people and leading companies are already developing shipping and packaging alternatives that will hopefully change how the world views product transportation. Here are just a few of those excellent ideas and companies that are taking sustainable packaging to the next level:

  1. Ecovative DesignEcocradle Mushroom Packaging is perhaps one of the most innovative products I’ve seen that involves mushrooms. This packaging material is “grown” from crop waste and is 100% renewable and biodegradable. Apparently they create the material by growing mycelium, a fungal network of threadlike cells, around crop waste like”buckwheat husks, oat hulls, or cotton burrs.” It takes 5-7 days to grow and they can make almost any shape to meet the packaging requirement so maybe someday we will be shipping our Anywhere Solar Modules in some Mushroom Packaging!

    EcoCradle vs. Styrofoam

    EcoCradle squares off vs. Styrofoam

  2. Eco.Bottle – The Eco.Bottle is distributed by Berlin Packaging and created by Ecologic Brands Inc. It is a molded fiber bottle made from “recycled corrugated cardboard and newspapers.” The shell is 100% recyclable and compostable while the inside features a recyclable inner plastic pouch system. With this design, the bottle uses up to 70% less plastic than traditional bottles. I have yet to see any Eco.Bottles in the supermarket but apparently it is being used by Seventh Generation for their Natural 4X laundry detergent and will hopefully be used for a wide variety of beverages, personal care products, paints and stains in the near future.
    Eco.Bottle and Seventh Generation

    The entire packaging system uses 66% less plastic than a typical 100 oz 2X laundry bottle. -Seventhgeneration.com

    These two products are just an example of the progress companies are making in the realm of sustainable packaging. There are many more organizations out there that are changing the packaging game for good so that in the future, all packaging will be environmentally responsible and more efficient (Here is a list of companies that offer certified compostable packaging materials).

    In closing I leave you with the vision of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition: Sustainable packaging should be “sourced responsibly, designed to be effective and safe throughout its life cycle, meets market criteria for performance and cost, is made entirely using renewable energy, and once used, is recycled efficiently to provide a valuable resource for subsequent generations.”

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Filed under Conservation, Manufacturing, Recycle, Recycled Materials, Responsible Materials, Supply Chain Management, Sustainable Businiess

Brazil Hopes to Make the 2014 FIFA World Cup the Most Sustainable Yet

Considering my love for soccer and interest in renewable energy, this story about the 2014 World Cup caught my eye (and reinforced my decision to make the trip in two years). Using solar technology as the lynchpin, Brazil has set a goal of meeting minimum LEED sustainability standards in all 12 of their venues for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Professional athletics and renewable energy appear to be on a collision course for the greater good. Large solar and renewable energy companies are beginning to invest large amounts of money into athletic team sponsorships and advertising. On the other side, professional athletic clubs have seen the public relations benefits and money saving potential in adopting renewable energy and sustainable building.

This seemingly match made in heaven will benefit us all. Millions of people each year attend sporting events and watch on TV (people watch the Super Bowl just to see the ads). What better way to spread renewable energy technologies and sustainable living practices than through professional sports teams and large sporting venues.

The Mané Garrincha stadium in Brasília (Source: Castro Mello Arq. Esportiva via Renewableenergyworld.com)

Brazil will be taking sustainable building and renewable energy to a whole new level in 2014. The World Cup is already the largest sporting event in the world – according to FIFA.com over 3.2 billion people watched at least one minute of the 2010 World Cup – and now they aim to make it the most sustainable event yet. Of the twelve stadiums that plan to meet minimum LEED sustainable standards, 7 plan to integrate solar into the design. The highlight will be the Mane Garrincha (pictured above) in Brasilia – this venue will hopefully be the first football(soccer) stadium in the world to achieve LEED Platinum status, the highest level available. A 2.5 MW solar array installed on the tensioned canvas roof will help get it there. This system will cover more than 50% of the electricity needed during peak tournament times and will produce more than enough during normal operation, allowing the stadium to feed the excess into the grid.

Other highlights of stadium construction in Brazil include: the Maracanã in Rio, the host of the final, which will feature a ring of solar panels in the roof, the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte will have around 1.5 MWp of solar installed on its roof, and the Pernambuco Arena in Recife will install solar heating to supply the hot water in changing rooms, restrooms, and restaurants.

One of the largest drivers of renewable energy at the World Cup and sport in general  is Yingli Solar. “In 2010, Yingli Solar became the first renewable energy company to sponsor the FIFA World Cup.” (FIFA.com) As a result of this partnership, Yingli agreed to install PV Solar technology at 20 Football for Hope centers developed in Africa during the 2010 World Cup. Yingli has also partnered with some other very prominent sporting organizations in order to spread “green” awareness and build their brand. They are currently the official sponsors of the 2014 World Cup, the United States Men’s, Women’s, and Youth Soccer Teams, FC Bayern Munich Soccer,  and the New York Jets. Yingli provided the Jets with more than 3000 solar panels for an installation on their practice facility. The 690 kWp system is the largest installation at an NFL team headquarters.

Huge solar installation at the Jets team headquarters. The largest PV install at an NFL team headquarters.

These are just a few examples of professional athletics “going green” and the trend seems to be catching on around the country (and world). However, considering that nearly half of the Earth’s population will see some of the World Cup, the fact that Brazil has committed to renewable energy will have a great impact on how the people of the world view sustainability. Read more here about Brazil’s efforts to adopt PV solar technology by 2014.

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Filed under Conservation, Environment, Green Building, Green Technology, Renewable Energy, Solar