Sunday, September 20, 2020



Supply Chain Sustainability/Circular Economy

Green supply chain management means making transportation more sustainable

Making responsible environmental practices part of supply chain management isn’t just the moral thing to do, it’s also good business. A more sustainable supply chain is also a less wasteful supply chain, and reducing waste can lower a business’ total cost of business (TCOB) while also enhancing industry reputation. This is just one of many reasons why green supply chain management is important.

Crucially, implementing these practices is often a lot less difficult than managers expect. Overweight shipments, product damage, and rejected loads all contribute to increased costs and should be easy to avoid once they are identified. Making green supply chain changes like switching to plastic pallet pooling, improving warehouse lighting, and adopting better recycling practices help improve supply chains from beginning to end.  

Three Reasons Why Green Supply Chain Management Is Important

Sustainable supply chain management has wide-reaching effectsThe most obvious reason supply chain management is important is the environment. Cutting back on carbon emissions and conserving natural resources matters to everyone. But these are just some of the reasons why companies choose to “go green.”

Eighty-one percent of consumers around the world believe that businesses need to help improve the environment.

Aside from the environmental benefits, green supply chain management can offer:

Reduced Waste: Millions of tons of food is wasted within the supply chain every year. By making efforts to reduce that waste through improved process management and the adoption of lean policies, managers can eliminate costly losses that reduce their TCOB. 

Lower Transportation Costs: Companies typically try to bring down the weight of shipments as well as making trips shorter when they’re trying to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This results in lower transportation costs, as trips use less fuel and trucks suffer minimized wear and tear. 

Enhanced Reputation: Eighty-one percent of consumers around the world believe that businesses need to help improve the environment. This belief factors in to buying decisions and can hurt companies that don’t adopt sustainable practices. It also affects even businesses that don’t sell directly to consumers, as businesses seeking to reduce their environmental impact will look into their vendors’ policies on sustainable business practices.  

Green supply chain management offers far more benefits than its name implies, as managers also gain dividends from improved productivity and reduced bottom-line costs. Nor does implementing green policies have to be a complex endeavor. 

What Supply Chain Managers Can Do to Improve Their Environmental Impact 

Plastic pallets can make supply chain management more greenWhile many managers look to technology when it comes to improving the sustainability of their supply chains, these high-cost upgrades aren’t the only solutions. In some cases, smaller changes to existing business practices can still reduce environmental impact significantly. Some options to consider include:

Updating warehouse lighting: Lighting a large facility like a warehouse or distribution center is a major energy drain which is made worse when warehouse managers use outdated metal halide bulbs. Compared to modern LED lighting options, these bulbs require far more energy and have a much shorter lifespan. A quality LED lighting fixture can last more than five times as long as a metal halide fixture while consuming less energy and maintaining a consistent lumen output.

Expanding upward rather than outward: When more room is needed in a warehouse or distribution center, the most environmentally friendly (and often, the most cost-effective) option is to maximize the facility’s cube utilization by adding vertical storage racking. Mezzanines can also be used to add extra floors for additional storage while staying energy efficient.

Establishing a recycling plan: Cardboard and paper are generally recycled in the warehouse setting, but other items used in the supply chain are often simply thrown away. The plastic film used to wrap pallets can be recycled, it just requires extra effort in the form of collecting and baling the plastic and finding a recycling company willing to reclaim and process it. The same is true for recyclable plastic slip sheets. While some effort is required to set up a recycling program for these materials, the result can be a big step toward creating a supply chain for the circular economy.

Choosing plastic pallets over wood: Pallet supply provides an excellent opportunity for managers to improve their green practices. While wood is the most commonly used pallet material, wood pallets contribute to ongoing deforestation, pile up in landfills when no longer usable, and, in the case of reusable block pallets, may weigh more than 80 pounds, contributing to heavy fuel consumption and carbon emissions during transportation. Wood pallets also contribute to product damage that causes rejected loads and wasted products. Plastic pallets, on the other hand, don’t leave behind debris, are lighter than wood, better protect their cargo, and are recyclable, making them a green choice and a good way to improve the sustainability of your supply chain.

Pallet pooling is already putting the tenets of the circular economy into practice.

It’s not hard to understand why green supply chain management is important when one considers the impact of sustainable practices not just on the environment, but also on overall business costs. Plastic pallets have the power to transform the practices of a warehouse, distribution center, or an entire supply chain to make it greener and more efficient. Using a plastic pallet pooling program takes this one step further. While the business world is looking for ways to make their business practices more circular, pallet pooling is already putting the tenets of the circular economy into practice. A pallet pooling company is able to minimize transportation and empty miles by moving pallets among customers in the most efficient way possible. Plastic pallets make pooling even more sustainable because of their durability, light weight, long lifespan, low maintenance, and recyclability. 

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020



Supply Chain Sustainability/Circular Economy

One of the benefits of a closed loop supply chain is money saved through reuse
Sustainability and environmentalism have transformed from topics at the fringes of society to mainstream concerns that affect consumers’ daily lives and purchasing decisions. Recyclable packaging and environmentally friendly certifications are found on many products. More and more customers look for these marks when shopping for food and packaged goods. However, there’s a clear consensus that just using recyclable materials in packaging is not enough. Increasingly, closed loop supply chains, which reuse all of their materials as-is, recycle them into new products, and otherwise find ways to prevent waste are being held up as the logistics model of the future.

The most important benefit of a closed loop supply chain is the reduction of waste. However, the upfront design work to create reusable or completely recyclable packaging, the work of tracking it for reuse, and incentivizing its return can involve a significant cost. As a result, companies are looking for direct financial benefits to justify the cost and effort of making the switch to a closed loop supply chain.

The Financial Benefits of Closed Loop Supply Chains

Recycling plastic to keep it in the supply chainIn truth, the benefits of a closed loop supply chain are indirect. Transitioning to a closed loop supply chain only translates into direct financial benefits to a company over the long term. Complicating matters further is the fact that closing the loop can’t be done quickly. It takes years of research to develop a circular business model, and further years of dedicated effort to fully close the loop and create a zero-waste supply chain. In fact, most companies haven’t yet reached the official zero waste mark at which 90 percent of materials are diverted from landfills. Nevertheless, a closed loop supply chain is worth pursuing due to the following benefits:

Reduced Waste: Efficiencies save money on every operation. Redesigning packaging to reduce the amount of packaging material used for each product can save money, and, if the overall weight is reduced, can also help save on fuel costs. If the redesign makes packaging easier to recycle, some material costs can be recouped as well.

Perception: The wider public is concerned about the environment and becoming increasingly so every day. Consumers are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products. In fact, the public’s perception of the effort to go green is one of the most immediate benefits of working towards a closed loop supply chain and can boost sales, helping to offset many of the costs of initiating recycling and reusability initiatives.

Customer Loyalty: Sincere ongoing efforts to improve recyclability and material reusability can result in loyalty to a brand. This can be reinforced by refill initiatives in which consumers refill reusable packaging instead of discarding it after a single use. A truly closed loop supply chain for consumer package products resembles a product-as-a-service (PaaS) model, similar to digital marketplaces, in which customers are tied to a certain operating system and its ecosystem of applications.

Shaping Regulation: Companies that work towards a closed loop supply chain ahead of any regulatory mandate that they do so pioneer the methodologies that will be used in the future. This gives them an advantage in that they can work with regulators to help shape future regulations and can provide their services to help other companies with compliance when regulations are enacted.
Being “ahead” of other businesses can bolster a company’s reputation, enhancing customer perceptions and building brand loyalty.

Perhaps the biggest of these advantages is the opportunity to be ahead of regulations and to be able to provide the model that shapes those regulations. Being “ahead” of other businesses this way can, in turn, bolster a company’s reputation, enhancing customer perceptions and building brand loyalty. Being ahead of the crowd is not an easy option though. It requires advanced planning and a degree of trial and error.

Building a Closed Loop Supply Chain

Reusing packaging helps create a closed loop supply chainConsumer durables such as appliances and electronics are more often recycled than other goods because the metals and rare earths that go into these devices retain much of their value. This provides some incentive for waste management companies and recyclers to pull these out of the waste stream and tear them down for recycling. However, even with these incentives, only a small percentage of electronics and appliances are recycled. In the consumer packaged goods market, where the monetary value of individual packaging is minimal and the incentive for recycling it is nonexistent, creating a closed loop supply chain is much more difficult.

Building a closed loop supply chain involves incentivizing the recycling of packaging.

Supply chain management within the circular economy is still primarily concerned with reducing, reusing, or recycling consumer packaging, and most consumer packaging is already recyclable to some degree. Part of the issue is that very few consumers make the effort to put it into the recycling stream and it instead ends up in a landfill. At a minimum, building a closed loop supply chain involves incentivizing the recycling of packaging. However, redesigning packaging to be biodegradable or easier to recycle is likely to be more effective and less costly over the long term.

Another option being tested by some of the world’s largest consumer brands is the PaaS model. Instead of purchasing a product, consuming it, and discarding the packaging, consumers instead participate in a refilling service. They receive a container that is meant to be saved and either take it to a retailer to have it refilled or use a service that drops off new, full containers while reclaiming empty ones for washing, sanitization, and refilling. This is a fundamental change in the way that consumer packaged goods do business. However, it does secure a more consistent market share over the long term as the consumer is a part of a product ecosystem that functions similarly to an online product library.

Plastic pallet pooling is one example of a closed loop supply chainAll of these methods for developing a closed loop system take time. However, companies can begin to reap the benefits of a closed loop supply chain model by choosing a pallet pooling service. Pallet pooling companies use a closed loop system to rent pallets to their clients. While pooled wood pallets will eventually wear out and end up in a landfill, plastic pallet pooling programs that use recyclable HDPE plastic pallets are true closed loops. In this cradle-to-cradle model, every plastic pallet can be recycled directly into another plastic pallet after it reaches the end of its long lifespan.

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Sunday, September 13, 2020

Circular Economy and Effective Waste Management

The Role of Chemical Recycling in a Circular Economy and Effective Waste Management

November 18, 2019 | Jim Lane

By Zoltan Kish, Ph.D., Lee Enterprises Consulting, Inc.

The increasing amount of waste is one of the most challenging problems facing the World, which creates enormous environmental problems. According to the World Bank, Canada produces the most waste per capita in the world. Additionally, Canada recycles just 9 percent of its plastics. Banning foreign waste import by China and other countries has not helped the waste recycling business in Canada. In addition, shifting the recycling program to the producer responsibility by the Ontario Government, will reduce further plastic waste recycling and will increase the plastic pollution. A ban of certain single-use plastic products (e.g., straws, bags) may not solve the spread of plastic litter and environmental problems. Without more effective and sustainable ways to manage produced waste, more and more waste will end up in landfills polluting our land, water, and air.

At the same time, we have a tremendous business opportunity to convert waste into usable sustainable products. According to a market study report prepared by Market Insights Reports, the smart waste management market was valued at $1.41 billion (USD) in 2018 and is expected to reach $5.19 billion by 2024, registering a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.68%, during the forecast period of 2019-2024.

Contaminated and mixed waste products (e.g., plastic, paper, industrial waste, medical waste, MSW) are challenging to recycle by mechanical/physical processing. Especially, traditional plastic waste recycling has difficulties and limitations. Mechanical sorting is not effective for mixed plastic waste. Thousands of different types of plastic are manufactured by combinations of different resin types, dyes, and additives. In addition, the plastic material quality is very susceptible to contamination. Even carefully selected plastic materials can only be recycled limited times in similar products since it degrades every time after reheating. Therefore, most plastic products are downcycled into items of reduced value, such as textiles, toys or fibres, and eventually, end up in landfills and water resources creating tremendous environmental problems. Replacing plastics with alternative materials, such as glass and metals would cost more to manufacture due to the higher energy and other resource consumption. The problem is the way of the current waste management operating.

On the other hand, waste plastic can be recycled into high-value products using advanced and cost-effective waste conversion technologies. The circular economy is not only based on simple reusing waste products. The purpose the recycling is to redesign and convert waste into forms retaining as high value as possible in a circular economy. We need sustainable and effective waste management to protect our environment and develop a working circular economy. In a circular economy, chemical recycling can play a pivotal role in waste conversion into usable materials and clean energy.

Chemical recycling as waste recycling using effective waste conversion technology is essential for a working circular economy. Illinois and Ohio have become the most recent states to pass laws making it easier to build chemical recycling facilities, regulating them as recycling operations rather than waste processing plants. Canadian Government could also consider that as a tool to develop a new approach – “Chemical Recycling” in waste management. Regrettably, Canada and other G7 countries are planning to use waste-to-energy incineration as part of a plastic pollution solution. However, incineration is a very costly and inefficient way for waste conversion into energy and generating highly toxic and carcinogenic pollutants.

The environmental impact of waste can be minimized by proper waste management applying advanced waste conversion technologies. The government should address the demand to solve the incredible waste accumulation problem by developing appropriate tools for waste management challenges and supporting the development of effective waste conversion technologies. We should focus more on waste diversion from landfills and water resources, and the conversion of waste into high-value products. Garbage can be converted into high-value clean energy and sustainable products using advanced and cost-effective waste conversion technologies, such as anaerobic digestion, pyrolysis, gasification, plasma-enhanced gasification, and steam gasification. Therefore, the circular economy should include the use of effective waste conversion technologies to produce high-value usable products. Perspectives of different waste conversion technologies are provided in the article – “Perspectives on Waste-to-Energy Technologies”.

Chemical Recycling should be based on reliable and cost-effective waste conversion technologies. Therefore, it is very important to do technical due diligence before investing and applying new technology to prevent wasting time and money. Regrettably, investors often do not take the time to evaluate the proposed technology and, therefore, the underlying scientific/technological basis of the business is often neglected in the CleanTech sectors. As a result of this, enormous and overpriced facilities were built producing not profitable products. In addition to financial data and management of the company, the underlying scientific/technology base of the applied technology should be considered. Science is supposed to be an essential pillar of a successful and sustainable business. Consequently, it is very important to properly establish the underlying scientific/technology base for applied technologies to build a successful waste conversion plant. The success of waste conversion technology applications depends on the following main factors:

The underlying scientific/technological basis of the process
Implementation of effective scrubbing systems to remove contaminants
Process modelling
Mass & Energy balance
Proper engineering design
Financial data based on mass & energy balance
Waste feedstock evaluation, preparation and availability
Waste energy conversion efficiency
Quantity and quality of the produced products
Applications of the products
Cost-effectiveness of the project

As a result of many years of development, a unique and cost-effective waste convection technology has been developed and tested at the pre-commercial waste conversion facility.  The developed technology is based on a steam gasification process in combination with a reliable scrubbing/cleaning system. The steam gasification technology represents a potential alternative to the traditional treatments of waste feedstocks (e.g. plastic, biomass, MSW, sewage sludge, industrial by-products) to produce high-quality syngas, which contains no noxious oxides and higher hydrogen concentration than products produced by traditional gasification. The chemistry is different due to the high concentration of steam as a reactant and the total exclusion of air and, therefore, oxygen from the steam reformation process. The proposed technology using an indirectly heated kiln in combination with a reliable and effective scrubbing/cleaning system without a feedstock sorting requirement. The technology uses “off the shelf” commercially proven equipment, which significantly lowers the capital and operating costs compared to other waste conversion technologies.

In a working circular economy, a solution for waste disposal and clean energy and sustainable product regeneration is an effective waste conversion technology application based on thermo-chemical and bio-chemical processes. The produced product type depends on the types of feedstock and reactants, and the applied processing conditions as applied physico-chemical interaction conditions in the system. The applied waste conversion technology type depends on the waste feedstock composition and the market requirement on the produced products from waste. The suitable waste conversion technology can divert waste from landfills and convert waste into usable products and prevent contamination of our environment. The waste steam gasification technology as a cost-effective process is most suitable for contaminated and mixed waste (including plastic waste) conversion into various forms of high-value sustainable products, such as electricity, hydrogen, liquid synthetic fuels, and chemicals. At the current stage, based on market demand, hydrogen production from mixed waste (including contaminated plastic waste) is the most cost-effective solution. Using the steam gasification technology for waste conversion into hydrogen is an opportunity for a profitable business, which can solve the world’s biggest problem – the enormous waste accumulation.

There is a requirement for a new and innovative approach in the development of a solution for waste management challenges, waste recycling, plastic waste pollution reduction and a working circular economy. The used waste conversion technologies should be efficient and combined with a reliable scrubbing/cleaning system to remove contaminants in order to generate clean/ renewable energy and other sustainable products and prevent pollution of the surrounding environment. The application of advanced and effective waste conversion technologies can offer an innovative solution to the waste accumulation problem and making a positive impact on the protection of our environment.

Chemical recycling based on cost-effective waste conversion technologies can provide a fundamental shift in the way of produced waste handling in a circular economy. In the working circular economy, the use of cost-effective waste conversion technologies is an innovative waste management strategy to divert waste from landfills, produce clean energy and sustainable products, reduce depletion of natural resources, protect our environment, save time and money. Chemical recycling is a comprehensive and innovative solution to the complex problem of waste management and moving towards a circular economy.

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Sunday, September 6, 2020

Circular Economy: A Sustainability Innovation and Solution for Oil, Gas, and Petrochemical Industries

Sami Alnuaim, 2019 SPE President | 01 May 2019

There is no doubt that the world today consumes materials in all domains more than needed, possibly double or even triple what it needs. As a result, part of our world’s natural resources end up polluting the land and sea with a growing trail of waste. Sustainability requires being more efficient—conserving, recycling, and reusing to minimize the impact of everything we do. The developed world must no longer tolerate the buildup of mountains of waste while other places in the world, especially in underdeveloped countries, lack access to energy, food, clean water, and clean air.

The world’s population is projected to increase to 9 billion by 2040, adding 1.7 billion people in 20 years (85 million every year). Sustaining current levels of consumption while population grows that fast will be challenging. Most of the population growth will be in underdeveloped countries, with almost half in Africa, a continent with the highest levels of energy poverty and the lowest economic growth. In 2017, the population of Africa was roughly equivalent to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s designated developed countries (each about 17% of the world’s population), but in terms of gross domestic product, the developed countries accounted for 63% of the world, and Africa only 3%. As these countries grow and develop, they will be challenged to overcome the vast disparity and bring energy to their expanding population. 

As the oil and gas industry works to make our operations more sustainable, we can adopt the mindset of a “circular economy.” The circular economy is an alternative to the traditional linear economy (i.e., make, use, and dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each product service life. The circular economy keeps goods in use as long as possible through recycling and reuse, thereby decreasing the need for raw materials. This, in turn, reduces carbon intensity and our carbon footprint. 

Recycling used materials and plastics instead of disposing or burning them as waste is one important way to make better use of valuable resources, and create a new economy through new business opportunities. There are opportunities throughout our value chain from upstream to downstream to deploy new models of energy conservation. We are already making significant progress in recycling and reusing produced and flowback water. But where else can we reuse the fluids, materials, and equipment that go into supplying the world with oil and natural gas? Can we reach a certain target (%) for incorporating circular economy concepts across our industry? I believe that there are numerous opportunities for which a positive business case exists.

In the upstream, there are numerous opportunities for recycling and reuse. Many of our tools and equipment are made from steel—creating opportunities for recycling. When we decommission an offshore platform, companies are already working to remove anything that can be recycled, and in some cases, parts of the substructure are turned into beneficial artificial reefs. Companies are being smarter about recycling or reuse of drilling fluids and chemicals. We are conserving energy in our operations through cogeneration using spent steam, waste gas, and heat exchangers.

Globally, our operations produce several billion barrels of produced and waste water. Much of that water is brine, which can be environmentally damaging if not properly disposed. But brine contains valuable and high-demand minerals that can potentially be extracted for use by other industries. The waste water can be further treated and used in other operations or disposed. Where possible, disposal to the original formation can help to maintain reservoir pressure, increase recovery, and eliminate environmental impact. 

The refining segment of our industry has opportunities to address both water use and advanced materials such as catalysts and chemicals. Going forward, refiners need to develop methods for recovering and recycling spent catalysts and chemicals. They can also conserve energy and use spent heat and steam to generate power to meet refinery needs, with the potential to export excess power to a nearby grid. The industry’s procurement strategy should begin to consider the extent to which suppliers take sustainable and circular approaches to products.

The petrochemicals portion of our industry began making R&D investments more than a decade ago to address the environmental aspects of plastics. While plastic has made a huge difference in so many areas of human life and activity, it was purposely designed to be very durable and have a long life cycle. Plastics are nonbiodegradable materials that must be treated, recycled, or disposed of after use.

According to a 2017 study in the journal Science ­Advances, 75% of all plastic made since its introduction has ended as waste. Of this waste plastic, 9% has been recycled, 12% destroyed (burned), and the remaining 79% has ended up as trash, either in landfills or free-floating in the oceans. The opportunities for recycling more of this plastic waste seem substantial. According to McKinsey & Company, the volume of plastic going to recycling could increase fivefold by 2030. McKinsey also projects that the industry based on recycled plastics could generate a worldwide profit of approximately $55 billion/year by 2030. The business case for recycling is clear.

The McKinsey report outlines three principal approaches to plastics recycling:

  1. Mechanical recycling, which physically processes used plastic back to pellets, leaving the polymer chain intact
  2. Chemical recycling, breaking condensation-type polymers down to their monomers
  3. Processing back to feedstock through catalytic or thermal means (circular)

A good example of the petrochemical industry’s commitment to sustainability and the circular economy is the work being undertaken by SABIC, a leading global chemical company based in Saudi Arabia. (On 27 March, Saudi Aramco signed a share purchase agreement to acquire a 70% majority stake in SABIC.) SABIC built a feedstock recovery pilot project in Germany that uses plastic waste to produce synthetic feedstock. This recycled feedstock can be processed into any desired petro­chemical product. The company intends to collaborate with others to build the first commercial plant in the Netherlands to refine and upgrade a valuable feedstock, which will be produced from the recycling of low-quality, mixed-plastic waste otherwise destined for burning or a landfill. I am certain that SABIC is not the only company pursuing such strategies to address the growing challenge of plastic waste. The potential is huge for reducing the growing volume of plastic waste by turning it into other products. I expect to see more R&D investment by our petrochemical cousins in this area. 

Tires are another great opportunity to turn waste into value. Some studies show that every year almost 1 billion tires are disposed globally, with 50% of those tires going either to landfills or burners, allowing a valuable resource to go to waste. According to the US Tire Manufacturers Association, modern tires include up to one-quarter synthetic rubber, which is made of polymers that come from crude oil. Tires include steel, carbon black, silica, and other materials that also have recycling potential. Several companies around the world have established sustainability programs and started recovering these valuable resources in waste tires with the goal of recycling a significant percentage of tires. The future of tires is looking even more circular.

Waste to energy can also be a business opportunity. Energy can be created from waste products through primary treatment or processing. This often comes in the form of electricity, heat, or fuel. Recovering energy from waste is both circular and a means of meeting the energy needs of a growing population.

The benefits of pursuing a sustainable, circular approach to consumption are clear. We can reduce the impact on our planet’s resources, reduce our carbon intensity, and decrease the growing piles of waste materials. There can be a clear case for recycling and reuse, creating new business opportunities. Our companies can make these principles part of their core business across the value chain. Significantly reducing waste will require more investment in R&D as we find new ways to reuse things that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Identifying these new opportunities will be key to reducing our industry’s environmental impact.

I hereby challenge our industry to explore breakthrough technologies that will allow us to achieve this noble objective. We must act together and collaborate with governments and technical, operational, academic, and social societies. We must lead by example. We owe that to the future generations living on Earth for hundreds of years to come.

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Friday, September 4, 2020

Supply Chain for The Circular Economy


Supply Chain Sustainability/Circular Economy

Supply chain management in the circular economy focuses on eliminating waste to improve operational efficiency and cut costs. Finding opportunities to create and support a circular supply chain requires that businesses audit their processes, labor pools, and the tools that support them. By reviewing these elements with a critical eye, most supply chain managers will discover simple ways to improve production efficiency.

One major area of opportunity is the pallet fleet. Many manufacturers use outdated pallets that cause more waste than is immediately evident. If all companies switched from wooden pallets to plastic tomorrow, an estimated $750 million to $3 billion in annual supply chain waste would be eliminated. There is a clear opportunity here for supply chain managers who want to reduce waste in their supply chain and create a circular business model that will ultimately lower their Total Cost of Business (TCOB).

Why Strive for a Circular Economy?

Linear economic models create–and even depend on–an enormous amount of waste. Items like packaging are purchased with the expectation that they will reach the end of their useful lives after one trip through the supply chain. For a long time, these traditional models were a given. Companies made no real effort to avoid waste in production and transportation because resources were cheap and seemed infinite. They kept making and shipping products, paying little attention to what happened to those products and their packaging at the end of the supply chain.

Single-use packaging and transportation equipment, such as plastic wrap and stringer pallets, can be recycled or replaced with longer-lasting reusable versions.

Circular economic models challenge this idea that waste can’t be avoided; instead, they find ways to reuse or reallocate used or extra resources. These circular models seek to extend the useful lives of tools and other items by keeping them in the supply chain through repair or recycling. Machinery can be leased, rather than owned, to allow producers to pivot more easily to new technology as needed. Single-use packaging and transportation equipment, such as plastic wrap and stringer pallets, can be recycled or replaced with longer-lasting reusable versions. The circular economic model strives to close the loop in production and keep resources inside the company.

Why Single-Use Wood Pallets Aren’t a Good Fit for the Circular Economy

Wood pallets aren't a good fit for the circular economyPallets play an important–and large–role in the typical supply chain. It’s estimated that 80 percent of all U.S. commerce is carried on a pallet. As a result, the type of pallet used in a supply chain will have a major impact on that manufacturer’s ability to sustain a circular business model.   

Single-use wood pallets have distinct disadvantages because they have short, linear life cycles. They’re made, they’re used, and they’re trucked to landfills or ground into mulch. When a manufacturer purchases a stringer pallet, they’re getting a guarantee that, eventually, they’ll have to throw that pallet away or sell it at a loss. This directly creates waste that doesn’t support a circular supply chain or do anything to help a business’ bottom line.

Essentially, stringer pallets create waste as a byproduct of their use.

However, direct waste is not the only waste that results from wood pallet use. Wood pallets can leave behind debris and dust that increase housekeeping costs. Wood splinters and fasteners like nails and staples can come loose and damage equipment. That equipment will have to be repaired or replaced at the manufacturer’s expense, which wastes time and creates production delays. Wood particles can even get into products like food or medicine and cause contamination that leads to recalls–and, as a result, food waste.

Essentially, stringer pallets create waste as a byproduct of their use, affecting a company’s ability to build a closed-loop supply chain that will support the planet and their budget. An easy way to reduce waste in the supply chain is to switch out flimsy wood platforms for sturdier pooled platforms such as sustainable, recyclable plastic pallets.

Pooled Plastic Pallets Support Supply Chain Management in the Circular Economy

Plastic pallets being washed to reenter the pallet poolAny change a manager can make to his supply chain that eliminates waste is a step toward a circular economic model. This is why plastic shipping platforms are an increasingly popular alternative to wood pallets. There’s no point in the lifespan of a high-quality plastic pallet in which it becomes waste. Instead, when a plastic pallet reaches the end of its useful life, it’s ground down and used to create other pallets. A plastic pallet essentially has a circular lifespan, making it the perfect choice to support a circular economic model.

Overall, plastic pallets contribute to the reduction of supply chain waste and are simply more sustainable.

Plastic pallets also create less indirect waste than wood pallets; for example, they don’t shed wood splinters that require cleanup. They don’t have metal fasteners that could work loose and get into packages or damage equipment. In addition, since they’re as much as 35 pounds lighter than their wood counterparts, they require less fuel during transportation. Overall, plastic pallets contribute to the reduction of supply chain waste and are simply more eco-friendly, making them a great fit for a circular, sustainable supply chain.

Pallet Pooling Is the Circular Economy in Action 

Leasing pallets rather than purchasing them is another way to practice supply chain management for the circular economy. Renting pallets puts the responsibility for managing and replacing pallets in the hands of a third party specialist who is able to track, retrieve, repair, and recycle pallets in a much more efficient way than if the same assets were managed in-house.

Pallet pooling supports a circular economy because it’s a true circular model, one of a relative few being actively used in business. Both wood block pallets (which are sturdier and more reusable than basic stringer pallets) and plastic pallets can be rented through an efficient, circular pallet pool model; however, plastic pallets are even more durable than block pallets and are better suited for the circular economy. Instead of ending up in landfills, high-quality plastic pallets can be recycled into new pallets at the end of their long useful lives (a strong plastic pallet can make up to 100 trips through the supply chain, far more than a wood pallet’s typical 15 to 20 trips). Any supply chain manager who wishes to build a closed-loop supply chain should consider the low-waste, cost-saving model of plastic pallet pooling.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Recycled Plastic Bottles into Clothing


We turn recycled plastic bottles into clothing that’s beautiful, comfortable, stylish and good for the planet. Kastlfel is involved in every phase of development—from concept to creation.

Shirt cost - 1 location, 1-3 color print - Namedrop design and or logo artwork!

-100's of namedrop designs
- We work with your artwork
- Custom art at a competitive price

- Award winning print plant local to Denver, CO
- Best color separators in the world
- Top 5 Screen print shop in the nation
- Water-Based Inks - PVC, Phthalate free, Ecofriendly  (sustainable Value)

- 30ft folding machine
       - Fold 800 shirts an hour!
- Sticker, Tagging, individual folding

Product: All sustainable, super soft, fashionable and at wholesale pricing!
- Shirts
- Hoodies
- Tanks
- Scarves
- Polos
- Henley's

The recycling process of potentially useful waste can end up as wearables. 🧐
This way, consumption of fresh raw materials might be reduced to present a greener future. ♻️

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A Robust Circular Economy for Water

We need a robust circular economy for water, our most useful resource

By Nick Jeffries & Tansy Fall

August 28, 2020

Water is a vital resource that has fueled human progress. It transports solids, dissolves minerals, chemicals and nutrients and stores thermal energy. This "carrier characteristic" allows for countless industrial, agricultural and transport processes that enable our society to thrive.

But water is also key to life. The water in our oceans is home to phytoplankton that produce 70 percent of the oxygen we breathe. The lakes and rivers, and the groundwater beneath our feet, are our sources of drinking water without which we would soon perish. The food we eat relies on fresh water to grow.

In nature, water purifies and renews itself endlessly as it flows through the planet’s hydrological cycle. But nature’s capacity to renew on her own is being disrupted. In the last century, intensive industrial activities and urbanization have significantly affected our water supplies.

To make just one pair of jeans, for example, requires around 1,981 gallons of water and produces difficult-to-clean wastewater. With the number of clothes produced annually doubling from 50 billion to 100 billion units in the last 15 years, industrial water use in the clothing industry alone also has increased dramatically.

To make just one pair of jeans requires around 1,981 gallons of water and produces difficult-to-clean wastewater.
Extrapolating this growth across the economy, and factoring in an expanding population, it is easy to understand why the United Nations estimates that water demand will exceed easily accessible supply by 40 percent in 2040.

To make things more complex, the evolving climate emergency is leading to more unpredictable rainfall and greater frequency of extreme and unusual weather events. This has manifested as floods in South East Asia, droughts in California and Australia and wildfires in Greenland. The recent U.N. Water Policy Brief on Climate Change and Water is unambiguous on such effects: "The global climate change crisis is inextricably linked to water."

Water is never waste
With more unpredictable weather events and increased demand for fresh water, the ways in which we use and reuse water resources have never been more important. Reimagining wastewater not as a costly problem but as a valuable resource is a good illustration of this.

One example is the El Torno wastewater treatment plant in Cadiz, southern Spain. Like thousands of similar treatment facilities across the world, El Torno receives wastewater flows from surrounding businesses and homes, which it purifies so the water can be safely discharged into the nearby river. However, an aerial view of the El Torno site shows this plant to be different from the rest.

Extending from the North West corner of the facility is a pair of very straight emerald green channels, each about 328 feet long. In these "raceways," algae are cultivated that produce oxygen to fuel the biological treatment of the wastewater, thus almost eliminating the need for an energy supply to the facility.

To avoid suffocating the water flow, dead algae constantly are harvested and pumped to an anaerobic digester where they are converted into biogas. The gas is then scrubbed of impurities, leaving pure biomethane, which is pressurized and used to fuel a fleet of cars. Results from the full-scale pilot facility indicate that just one hectare of algae can treat the effluent of 5,000 people and produce enough biofuel to power 20 cars driving 18,600 miles a year. Although the burning of biomethane produces carbon dioxide, it releases only the same amount of CO2 that the algae absorbed while it grew. Carbon also remains in the byproducts of this process, which can be returned to the soil of local farms, meaning that the process has the possibility of being net carbon positive.

When we connect systems such as this and think of them as a whole, it is possible to transform a costly carbon emitting process into both an economic opportunity and a means of addressing a number of global challenges. The implications are significant. Wastewater treatment consumes about 3 to 4 percent of U.S. energy demand. In India, inadequate wastewater treatment, due to unreliable or expensive power, costs the Indian economy more than $50 billion a year. Imagine the positive impact that could be made if all future new wastewater treatment facilities in Africa, for example, were designed as power plants.

This is not a pipe dream. Such an idea is rapidly becoming a reality in many cities around the world, not just at El Torno, but also the Ebjy-Molle plant in Aarhus, Denmark, the Strass plant in Innsbruck, Austria, and the Gresham City plant in Colorado, which all operate as energy positive. This thinking is a hallmark of the circular economy — a system re-design inspired by nature that aims to decouple economic growth from the consumption of finite resources.

Not all water is equal — reusing water
While treatment of wastewater always will be necessary, we can also can prevent a lot of water from becoming "waste" in the first place. Depending on the use, different water quality standards are acceptable. For example, a typical microchip facility requires nine custom varieties of water. This includes water for toilet flushing, water fountains, air-con units and mixing of chemicals, as well as the most expensive ultra-pure water for cleaning semiconductors. An IBM microchip factory in Vermont demonstrated that recycling water can generate a whole swathe of additional benefits besides just lowering freshwater consumption. Between 2000 and 2009, IBM engineers started using IoT technology to manage water more effectively in IBM's Burlington factory. As a result, $740,000 per year was saved on water use, which generated almost $3 million in savings on chemicals and energy. In other words, for every $1 saved on water, $4 were saved in other resources.

While treatment of wastewater always will be necessary, we also can prevent a lot of water from becoming ‘waste’ in the first place.
Products and systems also can be developed that enable reuse and recycling of water in the home. Boston-based business Aquafresco has a patent-pending filtration system that allows 95 percent of laundry water to be recycled, and also 90 percent percent of detergent to be collected for reuse. Similarly, Dutch company Hydraloop has developed an easy-to-install system that collects shower and washing water, economically converting it to a quality suitable for washing, toilets, garden use and swimming pools. Hydraloop can save a typical household almost 8,000 gallons of water per year.

Cities have a unique opportunity to make the most of such innovations. Las Vegas, Singapore, Windhoek and Berlin all recycle their water in different ways, allowing the cities to improve water security and greatly reduce costs. The Solaire apartment block in New York recycles 43,600 gallons of water per day, allowing for secondary use in toilets, air-con systems and roof-top irrigation. The reuse system reduces water demand by 50 percent and discharge volumes to local sewers by 60 percent, as well as reducing building energy consumption.

Redesigning systems to save water
In addition to making the most of the water we use every day, changing the way products are designed and made has significant water conserving potential. Take the pair of jeans which requires 1,981 gallons for production. In the Netherlands, a company called MUD offers jeans on a subscription model, as well as using over 40 percent recycled content for each new pair. Together, this saves 1,452 gallons of water for each pair of jeans.

Circular strategies that conserve water resources apply across many sectors. Renault’s Choisy-le-Roi plant collects old gear boxes, turbo injectors and other engine parts, cleaning and remanufacturing them to a good-as-new condition. By doing so the plant uses 88 percent less water than manufacturing from scratch, as well as 80 percent less energy and 90 percent fewer chemicals, and produces 70 percent less waste. The Choisy plant turns over $118 million in revenue and customers save 30 to 50 percent on a good-as-new part. Getting more from less is an enduring feature of a circular economy.

In New York, the Catskill catchment basement program has provided wide-reaching benefits thanks to its holistic response to a federal government regulation change mandating the filtering of surface water supplies in the city. Rather than opting to invest in a new water treatment plant — which would have cost the city $6 billion plus annual running costs of $250 million — a study into alternative solutions was undertaken. It concluded that watershed protection projects, costing a mere $1.5 billion in comparison, would result in the same level of water filtration. Furthermore, this approach resulted in the ecological improvement of thousands of acres of upstate land boosting the rural economy, creating local employment, increasing investment in rural businesses and expanding eco-tourism.

Regenerative action
Regenerating the environment by redesigning systems is a critical element of the circular economy. It advocates that economic activities should go beyond doing less harm, and strive for a regenerative or net-positive impact on nature. Natural systems provide us with food, oxygen and clean water, regulate our climate, absorb floods, provide recreation and much more. The WWF Living Planet Index estimates these "ecosystem services" provide humans with more than $120 trillion of benefits each year. Our current extractive and polluting economic model drastically diminishes the ability of ecosystems to provide these services.

No sector of the economy illustrates the potential for circular economy to regenerate natural systems more than agriculture. And, as farming consumes 70 percent of the planet’s freshwater, no part of the circular economy offers more to the conservation of water resources than regenerative agriculture.

It is possible to produce food for everyone, conserve water, make a decent profit, protect farmers and local communities from harm and enhance the environment all at the same time.
Regenerative agriculture describes a broad set of food production methods with two complementary outcomes: the production of high quality food and the improvement of the natural environment. It recognizes that farms are part of a larger ecosystem, which farming activities must not just extract from, but also support. Farming in this way shifts from monoculture practices heavily reliant on chemical inputs, towards a more holistic way of thinking that cherishes diversity, encourages virtuous cycles of renewal and focuses on the health of the system as a whole.

The specifics vary, or as soil expert David Montgomery puts it: "What works for temperate grasslands may not work so well in tropical forests." However, there are common regenerative practices that can be applied across all soil farming. These include the use of cover crops, wider crop diversity, minimizing soil disturbance and, most important, the building up of soil organic matter. For every 1 percent increase in organic matter in the top 7.9 inches of topsoil, 90 metric tons of carbon can be sequestered and an additional 38,000 gallons of water stored. This shows that regenerative agriculture is a powerful tool for climate mitigation and adaptation, while at the same time meeting demand for food.

On a 50,000-acre farm in Sao Paulo province, Brazil, Leontino Balbo Jr gradually has converted his sugar cane plantation to what he refers to as "ecosystem revitalizing agriculture" that focuses primarily on soil health. Balbo’s regenerative journey has not been straightforward, requiring numerous experiments and course corrections, as well as the need to manufacture his own bespoke "green harvesting" equipment. The homemade machines operate on low pressure tires to avoid over-compaction of soil, cutting the cane while at the same time shredding and returning leaves and other plant residue to the soil. Twenty years on, the farm has increased biodiversity to half that of a national park, increased yield by 20 percent and all but eliminated mechanical irrigation.

In North Dakota, farmer Gabe Brown has integrated livestock grazing with many species of saleable crops. Pigs and chickens help to cycle nutrients so that the ranch can thrive without any synthetic inputs, allowing organic soil content to increase from 1 to 14 percent. This feeds microbes and improves soil structure so his fields store over three times more water than before, providing insurance against years of drought or lower rainfall. The 5,000-acre farm, heavily degraded 20 years ago, is profitable without the need for government subsidies.

The many other types of regenerative agriculture — including agroforestry, conservation agriculture, agro-ecology, silvopasture and 3D ocean farming — all illustrate that agriculture does not have to be a zero-sum game. It is possible to produce food for everyone, conserve water, make a decent profit, protect farmers and local communities from harm and enhance the environment all at the same time.

The need for and importance of water across all sectors of the economy as well as all living organisms and natural systems shows that water is a resource of incomparable value for Planet Earth. As water has allowed humans to thrive in the past, so it can continue to in the future, provided we commit to respecting and valuing it in the appropriate way. Applying circular economy thinking to the way we manage our precious water resources can be one powerful way of fulfilling this commitment.

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