Plastic Gets a Do-Over: Breakthrough Discovery Recycles Plastic From the Inside Out

This is a huge breakthrough with obvious environmental implications–keeping plastics out of landfills and into recycling facilities for reuse.


Left to right: Peter Christensen, Kathryn Loeffler, and Brett Helms. (Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab)

Scientists from Berkeley Lab have made a next-generation plastic that can be recycled again and again into new materials of any color, shape, or form

Light yet sturdy, plastic is great – until you no longer need it. Because plastics contain various additives, like dyes, fillers, or flame retardants, very few plastics can be recycled without loss in performance or aesthetics. Even the most recyclable plastic, PET – or poly(ethylene terephthalate) – is only recycled at a rate of 20-30%, with the rest typically going to incinerators or landfills, where the carbon-rich material takes centuries to decompose.

Now a team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has designed a recyclable plastic that, like a Lego playset, can be disassembled into its constituent parts at the molecular level, and then reassembled into a different shape, texture, and color again and again without loss of performance or quality. The new material, called poly(diketoenamine), or PDK, was reported in the journal Nature Chemistry.

“Most plastics were never made to be recycled,” said lead author Peter Christensen, a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry. “But we have discovered a new way to assemble plastics that takes recycling into consideration from a molecular perspective.”

The researchers believe that their new recyclable plastic could be a good alternative to many nonrecyclable plastics in use today.

“We’re at a critical point where we need to think about the infrastructure needed to modernize recycling facilities for future waste sorting and processing,” said Helms. “If these facilities were designed to recycle or upcycle PDK and related plastics, then we would be able to more effectively divert plastic from landfills and the oceans. This is an exciting time to start thinking about how to design both materials and recycling facilities to enable circular plastics,” said Helms.

The researchers next plan to develop PDK plastics with a wide range of thermal and mechanical properties for applications as diverse as textiles, 3D printing, and foams. In addition, they are looking to expand the formulations by incorporating plant-based materials and other sustainable sources. MORE

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How do you get a country to go all-in on electric cars? Ask Norway

 


The Chevrolet Bolt, one of Canada’s most popular electric car, is among the vehicles eligible for federal rebates that came into effect Wednesday. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press)

The federal government’s new $5,000 rebate for Canadians buying electric vehicles may encourage more drivers to make the switch — but will it make a dent in Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions?

The rebate will likely raise sales of electric cars by a few per cent, but “that’s not enough to … transform the market,” said Nicholas Rivers, Canada Research Chair in climate and energy policy at the University of Ottawa.

Norway has achieved this transformation through “a bunch of incentives that are all piled on top of each other,” Rivers said.

Gunnar Eskeland, a professor at the Norwegian School of Economics, is more blunt about it. There have been incentives, yes, but also a “sledgehammer” in the form of Norway’s very high national taxes on vehicles — from which electric car buyers are exempt. 

Add in free use of toll roads, access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes and free parking with charging stations readily available, and Eskeland said electric car ownership has become tough for Norwegians to refuse.

Eskeland said the Norwegian government introduced the tax exemption years ago, when people were “charmed” by the idea of electric cars, but very few were available. The widespread adoption of zero-emission cars in Norway today is largely because the government didn’t “turn off” those tax exemptions once foreign EV manufacturers — including Tesla and Nissan — entered the Norwegian market, Eskeland said.

The tax breaks have cost the government a fair bit, which may mean it’s not a model other countries will be eager to adopt. But Eskeland said Norway’s enthusiasm may still help push the electric car agenda forward globally.  MORE

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Sorry, Critics Tell Warren, Greening US Empire’s “Powerful War Machine” No Answer to Climate Crisis

“…trying to “green” the Pentagon without addressing the destructive impacts of its bloated budget and American imperialism is a misguided way to combat the emergency of global warming.”

“Fighting the climate crisis is not about enabling the largest and most powerful military in human history to be more efficient in its destructive missions.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Wednesday unveiled a climate plan for the U.S. military that was quickly criticized by progressives. (Photo: Elizabeth Warren/Facebook)

Anti-war critics are responding to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s new climate “resiliency and readiness” proposal to reform the U.S. military with warnings that trying to “green” the Pentagon without addressing the destructive impacts of its bloated budget and American imperialism is a misguided way to combat the emergency of global warming.

The most powerful war machine on the planet is never going to be ‘green.'” —Naomi Klein, author and activist

Warren is an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution that was introduced in February, just two days before the Massachusetts Democrat officially kicked off her 2020 presidential campaign.

Like several other proposals since then, Warren unveiled the Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act in a Medium post Wednesday. But unlike many of her other proposals—from breaking up big tech and wiping out student debt to establishing universal childcare—this latest one was met with deep concern, not praise, from progressives.


Naomi Klein @NaomiAKlein

<@ewarren is running a great campaign but when it comes to climate breakdown, this is *not* a plan for that. The most powerful war machine on the planet is never going to be “green.” The outrageous military budget needs to be slashed to help pay for a Global Green New Deal. https://t.co/LWQO74g2pP

— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) May 15, 2019


Klein’s comments were echoed by other critics of Warren’s proposal, who instead called for curbing the Pentagon’s massive carbon footprint “through shrinking the military and ending empire.” Some pointed out that, by contrast, another 2020 candidate and backer of the Green New Deal, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), aims to “meaningfully [confront] imperialism.” MORE

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Mission Possible: The Green Party Climate Action Plan

At last a serious climate strategy! Other points within the Green’s 2019 climate plan:

      • Ensure all new cars are electric by 2030
      • Modernize and expand Via Rail service across Canada
      • Make all buildings in Canada carbon neutral by 2030
      • Mandate agriculture, fishing, forestry equipment use biodiesel made from restaurant vegetable fat.

The Green Party has Canada’s only comprehensive plan to avoid climate catastrophe.

Download the whole action plan (PDF)
The Mission

1 – Declare a Climate Emergency

Accept, at every level of government, that climate is not an environmental issue. It is the gravest security threat the world has ever seen.

2 – Establish an inner cabinet of all parties

Modelled on the war cabinets of Mackenzie King and Winston Churchill, parties will work together to ensure that climate is no longer treated like a political football. It requires all hands on deck.

3 – Set stringent new targets

Establish our new target and file it as Canada’s Nationally Determined Contribution with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change: 60 per cent GHG reductions against 2005 levels by 2030; zero emissions by 2050.

4 – Assume leadership

Attend the next climate negotiation in Chile this year and press other countries to also double their efforts.

5 – Respect evidence

Restore funding of climate research within the Government of Canada and in the network of universities that received financial support before 2011.

6 – Maintain carbon pricing

Revenue neutrality will be achieved through carbon fee and dividend and we will eliminate all subsidies to fossil fuels.

7 – Ban fracking

No exceptions. It destroys ecosystems, contaminates ground and surface water, endangers our health and it’s a major source of GHGs.

8 – Green the grid

By 2030, remove all fossil fuel generation from our national east-west electricity grid.

MORE

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Jagmeet Singh’s call for fossil fuels ban leapfrogs the Leap Manifesto

“The NDP is coming late to the issue of dealing comprehensively with climate change. Can it compete effectively with Elizabeth May’s Greens on this front? We shall see.” – Thomas Walkom

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on May 7 in Ottawa. “The NDP is coming late to the issue of dealing comprehensively with climate change. Can it compete effectively with Elizabeth May’s Greens on this front?” asks Thomas Walkom.
Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats have discovered climate change. 

The party had been reluctant to take too uncompromising a stand on global warming for fear of alienating potential voters. That reluctance has gone.

Now the NDP is calling for an end to the entire fossil-fuel industry in Canada.

“The future of our country cannot involve fracking,” Singh said Monday in Ottawa, referring to a controversial method of drilling for oil and natural gas. “It cannot involve the burning of any fossil fuel.”

He said Canada must adhere to carbon reduction targets that are much stricter than those proposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government if it to seriously fight climate change.

And he declared that he now opposes ambitious plans by British Columbia’s NDP government to build a massive liquefied natural gas project in the province’s north.

[In the past] the Leap Manifesto’s call to ban any new fossil-fuel energy projects, from pipelines to fracking, was seen as too radical. No more. Now, with his call for a Canada free of fossil fuels, Singh has outleapt the Leapers. MORE

 

The War on Women Enters a New, Even More Dangerous Phase

“On the 50th anniversary of the publication of Our Bodies, Ourselves, the struggle for women’s bodily autonomy, for political representation and economic power, for freedom and equality is still being waged. But it’s no longer a struggle. Now it’s a war. “

The abortion issue is being used to strip women of their rights. It’s time to fight back

WomenAbortionMarch.jpgIt’s hard to imagine that even Margaret Atwood’s fertile imagination could have conceived the current situation in the US.Photo by Mickey Welsh, Associated Press.

Georgia’s “heartbeat law” bans abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That can be as early as six weeks, before many women even realize they are pregnant. In truth, heartbeat laws effectively ban safe and legal abortion.


Image result for twitter logo extra small“6 weeks pregnant” = 2 weeks late on your period.

Most of the men writing these bills don’t know the first thing about a woman’s body outside of the things they want from it. It’s relatively common for a woman to have a late period + not be pregnant. So this is a backdoor ban. https://t.co/xWd9GAj51b  — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 8, 2019


Ocasio-Cortez was not alone in noting that many of the politicians pushing this kind of legislation didn’t have the faintest clue about how women’s bodies actually work.

It’s tempting to watch from the safety of Canada and think “There goes America, being insane again.” But reproductive rights may not be quite as safe here as one might hope.

Liberal MLAs Rich Coleman and Laurie Throness addressed the crowd at a pro-life rally outside the B.C. legislature last week. “The fact that somebody wants to do things with the right to life at the end of life, or the right to life at the beginning of life, is totally, totally wrong for me,” Coleman said. Throness said “life is sacred from conception until natural death.”

They aren’t alone in voicing support for the anti-choice forces.

“It starts with limits on access to information and education, and then spirals into some fictional faith-based version of how the world supposedly works.”

In Ontario, Progressive Conservative MPP Sam Oosterhoff pledged that he wanted abortion to become “unthinkable in our lifetime.” Ontario Premier Doug Ford, asked if he agreed with Oosterhoff, ducked the question. MORE

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Image result for twitter logo extra smallThis is a photo of speakers  and Conservative politicians
at an anti-abortion rally.

Notice something? It’s almost all men.

The anti-abortion movement is nothing more than an attempt by old Conservative men to control women’s bodies pic.twitter.com/G7tCn14o3t  

Image
— North99 (@wearenorth99) May 15, 2019


Image result for twitter logo extra smallExperts say B.C. Liberal MLAs’ right to life speech was deeply disturbing. “It’s completely inappropriate for an elected representative to publicly oppose the Charter rights of women.” https://t.co/pWDs1qPtuZ

— Katrina Chen (@KatrinaCBurnaby) May 14, 2019


 

Doug Ford Quietly Planning Half a Billion Dollars in Cuts For Low-Income Workers and People With Disabilities

Doug Ford’s targeting of low-income workers and people with disabilities for steep cuts is “dangerous” and “cruel.” The province seems commitment to inadequate social assistance rates, that leave Ontarians in deep poverty with no hope of dignity or health. Your vote counts.

ford-ow-odsp_thumb

Ford government’s expenditure estimates foreshadow cuts for low-income workers and people with disabilities

Post-budget spending plans suggest Doug Ford’s government is quietly planning to cut half a billion from the province’s two main income support programs.

The budget tabled by the Ford government last month already announced plans to carve a billion dollars out of the budget of the ministry that provides funds to income support programs.

Although the budget makes no mention of cutting programs linked to “poverty” or “disabilities,” the Ford government’s more-recent itemized expenditure estimates for 2019-2020 show both Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program are slated for deep cuts.

Ontario Works is an income support program that provides low-income workers with financial and employment assistance. The Ontario Disability Support Program, meanwhile, offers financial and employment assistance for those with recognized disabilities.

According to the Ford government’s estimates, funding for financial assistance under Ontario Works would be $296.3 million lower in 2019-2020 than in the previous year, while employment assistance funding under the same program would drop $10 million.

People with disabilities would see ODSP financial assistance cut by $222.1 million.

Together, the total estimated loss amounts to more than half a billion dollars.

MORE