Most people know the 3 R's of the waste reduction hierarchy - Reduce first, then Reuse as much as possible, then Recycle what is left over.
In fact, According to the US EPA: "Source reduction or waste prevention, which includes reuse, is the best approach"
To those ends, Waste Busters offeres our new project, Sudbusters, a lively bunch of waste reduction super stars who will be bringing reusable food service ware and washing it for you throughout the event to eliminate disposables and the environmental impact of these waste products, up and down stream.
Think about the environmental impacts created where these materials are extracted - virgin forests cut down and offshore oil tapped to make a disposable coffee cup, which is chemically pulped, processed and bleached, packaged and repackaged, transported around the country only to be used for a few short minutes. It takes energy, materials, green house gas emissions, water pollution and particulate air pollution to make and deliver us these seemingly convenient products.
How did we get to a point where all that effort, cutting big trees and building off shore oil wells and refineries, processing these materials to make products that we use once only to have others collect and process for recycling or landfilling, is considered easier than simply washing plates and cups?
So Waste Busters scaled up a standard dish washing system, common to any restaurant, for large events to create an opportunity for people to gather at a remote festival and still be able to enjoy a waste-free experience. We hope you like it and help us to get all of our dishes back! Thank You
Check out a video from Kate Wolf Festival:
** IMPORTANT NOTICE - It has come to our attention that CA State Health Code requires all temporary food facilities to use SINGLE USE ITEMS! This mandatory wastefulness is being challenged as we go through the process of working with the State to update the code to allow for and describe SAFE and EFFECTIVE standards for washing dishes for food service at events. **
To stay up to date on this issue check out our facebook page:
Q: Is that safe and sanitary?
A: Yes! We have been health department approved wherever we go. We take safety seriously and make sure we only distribute clean, sanitized and dry dishes for use.
Q: What about all that water use? Doing dishes seems like a waste of water.
A: We are very concerned about our Water Foot Print and strive to reduce water waste, pollution and inefficient management systems. Although we currently cannot afford to run a good LCA study, here is some food for thought:
Many disposable products are made of plastic (primarily from oil) and/or have a high virgin paper fiber content. Forestry and paper pulp processing use and pollute incredible amounts of water upstream.
The Oil Refining Industry is the largest industrial water usage sector in the United States, using over one billion gallons per day. According to the US Department of Energy, refineries can require up to 2.5 gallons of water for every gallon of gas produced (USDOE, 2006).
Forestry is also a major water user, with pollution from chemical pulping and processing wood from forests into paper (The EPA doesn't collect water use data by industrial sector).
Much more info on UPSTREAM impacts of disposables below...
Q: Where Can I find more information about the benefits of reuse?
A: One Place would be from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality or their Supplemental Report: Comparing Prevention, Recycling, and Disposal that uses the results of the Life Cycle Assessment to compare the environmental impacts of prevention, recycling, and disposal related to water consumption.
Q: These stainless steel spoons obviously have more material than disposables. How many times do you need to wash one of your plates or cups for you to "break even" with the impacts of using disposables?
A: Very good question. There is a study looking at stainless steel spoons vs. polystyrene disposables and it depends on what you are looking at. It would take two uses to break even in the embodied energy, 30 uses to break even with material use and 11 times to break even with solid waste impacts. Assuming it is washed at least once more than that many times, it is environmentally preferable to reuse. (Environmental Comparison of Reusable Spoons Made from Stainless Steel vs. Disposable Spoons Made from Polystyrene or Polypropylene, Richard A. Denison, Ph.D. Senior Scientist - Copyright October 1998)
SINGLE USE PAPER PRODUCTS
and their environmental impacts
Single-use paper products, like paper plates or cups, have significant upstream (manufacturing) impacts that go beyond the need to harvest trees to make 75% of the paper we use - only 25% of paper is recycled content. Many single-use paper products are from virgin sources and contain no recycled content. Cutting trees impacts the forest and stops the carbon sequestration abilities that the trees provide. After harvest, to make a tree into a paper plate or cup, the wood must go through a few industrial processes including: Pulping, Bleaching and Making Paper. Not to mention, these products are packaged in more paper products and shipped on multiple trucks to get to the user.
Global and U.S. Paper Production and Consumption Statistics
• Of the global wood harvest for “industrial uses” (everything but fuelwood) 42% goes to paper production, a proportion expected to grow by more than 50 percent in the next 50 years. (Abramovitz, “Paper Cuts”, WorldWatch Institute, 1999, p. 124)
• Industrialized nations, with 20 percent of the world’s population, consume 87 percent of the world’s printing and writing papers. (Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme, Keynote Address UNEP’s 7th International High Level Seminar on Cleaner Production, 29-30 April 2002)
• Global production in the pulp, paper and publishing sector is expected to increase by 77% from 1995 to 2020 (OECD Environmental Outlook, 2001, p.215)
• The pulp and paper industry is the single largest consumer of water used in industrial activities in OECD countries and is the third greatest industrial greenhouse gas emitter, after the chemical and steel industries (OECD Environmental Outlook, p. 218)
• Paper pulp exports from Latin America from forests converted into plantations and from the harvesting and conversion of tropical and subtropical forests are expected to grow 70 percent between 2000 and 2010. (Mark Payne, “Latin America Aims High for the Next Century”, Pulp and Paper International, 1999)
• Most of the world’s paper supply, about 71 percent, is not made from timber harvested at tree farms but from forest-harvested timber, from regions with ecologically valuable, biologically diverse habitat. (Toward a Sustainable Paper Cycle: An Independent Study on the Sustainability of the Pulp and Paper Industry, 1996)
• Tree plantations host about 90 percent fewer species than the forests that preceded them. (Allen Hershkowitz, Bronx Ecology, 2002, p. 75)
Water Use from Pulping Trees
Pulping Uses Larges Quantities of Water and Produces Significant Amounts of Wastewater
The pulp and paper industry is the largest industrial process water user in the United States (EPA 1997).
The pulping process is responsible for a significant portion of the effluents from the pulp and paper
industry. The main effluent loads from pulping processes are dissolved and suspended organic matter
derived from wood or recovered paper and process chemicals and their byproducts.
Effluents from Pulping Trees
Chemical pulping is more water-intensive than mechanical pulping: bleached kraft pulp mills discharge
over 30,000 gallons per ton of pulp, while mechanical pulp mills discharge only 5,000-7,000 gallons per
ton pulp (Biermann 1996). The chemical pulping process produces effluents with large amounts of
biological oxygen demand (BOD) and total suspended solids (TSS).
The major sources of effluent pollution in chemical pulping (excluding kraft recovery and bleaching) are
white water from pulp refining operations (cleaning, screening, and thickening), digester condensates, and
uncontrolled intermittent losses (Springer 1993, Smook 1992). These pulping effluents are called white
waters due to their characteristic color. White waters can contain significant BOD with inefficient
washing as well as suspended solids from wood particles. These waters can be reused to dilute furnish
mixtures or the solids can be collected for reuse.
Condensates from the digesters are contaminated with a variety of organic compounds – primarily
methanol and terpenes, as well as other alcohols and sulfur compounds. Condensate discharges are
minimized in modern mills by reusing them in brown stock washers, as makeup for caustics, in lime kiln
stack scrubbers, and for dissolving tank makeup (Springer 1993). Remaining condensate is steamstripped
to remove methanol, sulfur gases, and other volatiles prior to discharge. Finally, intermittent
losses (including spills, overflows, and wash-ups) have traditionally accounted for approximately one-half
of the BOD and TSS from kraft paper mills. In recent years, mills have improved monitoring and control
of intermittent losses by implementing spill collection systems, overflow tanks, and process controls.
Air Emissions from Pulping Trees
Pulping Produces Sulfur Gases and Volatile Organics
The chemical and semichemical pulping processes produce a number of air emissions, including volatile
organics such as methanol, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and methyl ethyl ketone, as well as reduced
sulfur gases. The “rotten egg” odor associated with kraft pulp mills is primarily caused by four reduced
sulfur gases: hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, dimethyl sulfide, and dimethyl disulfide. These
compounds are collectively referred to as total reduced sulfur (TRS) emissions and are released from a
variety of sources in the kraft chemical and semichemical pulping processes (EPA 2002).
TRS and VOC emissions are high-concentration, small-volume sources that are usually destroyed by
incineration. Noncondensable gases from the digester blow and relief gases are the major TRS and
volatile organic compound (VOC) emission sources; however, measurable concentrations are also found
in the brown stock washer, seal tank vents, and liquor storage vents. Alcohols, terpenes, and phenols are
the typical VOC constituents. These gases are mild odorants, but they enhance the effect of the sulfur
BLEACHING PAPER FIBERS
Air Emissions from Bleaching Paper
Bleaching Produces Emissions of Chlorine Compounds and Volatile Organics
Bleaching chemicals such as chlorine dioxide and chlorine compounds formed during the bleaching
process (elemental chlorine, etc.) can be released from the vents of the bleach towers, washers, and filtrate
tanks. The concentrations of these chemicals in the vent gases vary from plant to plant and data is
currently unavailable for ECF and TCF bleaching. Vent gases from ozone bleaching are passed through
an ozone destructor and do not contribute to air emissions.
Other chemicals present in the bleach plant’s vent gases can include carbon monoxide, and volatile
organic compounds (VOCs) such as chloroform, methanol, methylene chloride, acetaldehyde, methyl
ethyl ketone, acetone, chloromethane, and trichloromethane (EPA 2002). These fumes are produced
during bleaching or may be released from liquid streams that are introduced into the bleach plant. VOCs
are often removed from the bleaching vent gases by scrubber systems such as a packed tower scrubber
Effluents from Bleaching Paper
Bleaching Effluents Can Contain Over 400 Different Chemicals
The various bleaching sequences and stages result in complex effluents. These effluents have been
reported to contain over 400 different chemical compounds, some of which have yet to be identified
(Dence 1996). Due to this complexity, bleach plant effluents are often characterized by biochemical
oxygen demand (BOD), total organic carbon (TOC), chemical oxygen demand (COD), color, adsorbable
organically bound halogen (AOX), and extractable organic halogen (EOX), rather than specific
compounds. BOD, color, and chlorinated organic compounds are often the most common characteristics
of bleach plant effluents reported.
BOD is a measure of the oxygen required to degrade the effluent’s organic matter by biochemical
oxidation. Effluents with high organic concentrations will have high BOD levels while lower organic
concentrations will have lower levels. Bleaching solubilizes residual lignin and black liquor components
left in the pulp from the pulping process. The effluent BOD depends on the amount of these components
remaining in the pulp after pulping and washing.
Air Emissions from Making Paper
Papermaking produces very few air emissions because most volatile materials in the wood are lost during
the pulping process. Some emissions may occur from incorporation of chemical and mineral additives,
such as formaldehyde from urea or melamine formaldehyde resins, which are additives used to impact
wet strength. Air pollutants can also arise from finishing operations where surface coatings are applied,
and during the anaerobic degradation of sulfates in waste water, which can give rise to sulfide emissions.
Effluents from Making Paper
Large volumes of water containing fibers and other materials retrieved from the papermaking machine
(white water) are produced during the production of paper. These may contain particulate wastes, organic
compounds, inorganic dyes, or chemical compounds such as acetone. In many cases, these white waters
are of sufficient quality to be reused in other sections of the mill. White waters that are not used as
furnish dilution are sent to a flotation clarifier.