Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Composting refuse helps reduce waste

MassLive.com, April 20, 2010

Composting is a great way to recycle our organic "waste" into a beneficial soil amendment for our yards and gardens.

Composting at home can also help reduce methane production at landfills. Using the compost in our landscapes helps store carbon in the soil instead of releasing it to the atmosphere.

Compost creates healthy soil, reducing or eliminating the need for fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation.

And, we can reduce our trash by 50 percent or more by composting leaves, grass clippings, garden debris, fruit peels, vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells, paper towels, napkins and even paper bags.

It's easy to make compost because most of the work is done by soil organisms that convert organic material to humus.

Build or purchase a compost bin. Enclosed compost piles keep out pests, hold heat and moisture in, and a have a neat appearance. They can be made of wire, wood, pallets, concrete blocks, metal and plastic.

Place the bin in a convenient, shady area that can be reached with your hose.

Build your compost pile using three parts "brown" material and one part "green" material. This provides food for the compost organisms in a recipe that will not create odors.

"Brown" ingredients include leaves, straw, dried grass clippings, wood chips, sawdust, pine needles, and paper products such as paper towels, napkins, bags, plates, coffee filters, tissue and newspaper.

"Green" materials include fresh grass clippings, weeds, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, eggshells, manure, and seaweed. Make sure the materials are damp as you build the pile, especially the "browns."

As you build the pile, sprinkle on several shovelsful of rich garden soil or finished compost after every 12 inches of fresh material.

A compost pile that is about 3 feet square and 3 feet high will heat up and stay active throughout the winter. Smaller piles may not retain heat, but will still produce compost, though more slowly than larger piles.

Once your pile is built, continue to add fresh materials as they become available. Always bury food scraps in the center of the pile under about 6 inches of leaves, where they will decompose odorlessly. If leaves are in short supply, add plenty of paper towels, napkins and torn up paper bags to provide the necessary carbon, and always bury your food scraps under this material.

Add water to your pile if it becomes dry to the touch. The composting organisms need a damp, humid environment to do their work. A plastic cover will help your compost pile retain the moisture you add, but remember to take the cover off when it rains so you won't need to add water as often.

Turn your pile, fluff it with a hoe or turning tool, or build air passages into the pile to keep your compost pile aerobic and odor-free. Or, use a compost bin that allows air to penetrate the pile. The compost critters need oxygen, just as we do. Lack of oxygen will slow down the composting process and cause odors.

In about three months, the material will start to turn to compost. The material at the bottom of the pile will be ready first. As more time goes by, the level of compost in the pile will rise until it is easy to access just below the surface. You will know your compost is ready to use when it looks like rich, brown soil and no longer resembles the original materials.

Compost benefits all plants, and there are many different ways to use it.

Add a handful of compost to each transplant hole when planting seedlings or potted plants. Spread another handful on the surface of the soil around the newly planted seedling, making sure that the compost is not touching the stem or trunk of the plant. This mulch layer will help hold moisture in the soil and add nutrients in a time-release fashion.

Spread compost around perennials, shrubs and other existing plantings. If you are planting seeds, apply one-half to 3 inches of compost and mix it in with the top four inches of soil in the seedbed. To rejuvenate lawns, screen your compost using ½-inch screening. The mesh trays used for holding and transporting potted plants from nurseries work well as ready-made compost screens.

Sprinkle the screened compost on the lawn about ¼-inch deep. Screened compost is also excellent for reseeding lawns. Sprinkle it ½-inch deep over the bare spots and distribute new grass seed on top. You can even make excellent potting soil with compost by mixing equal parts compost, sand and loam.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has banned disposal of leaves, yard waste and grass clippings with regular trash.

Yard waste makes up about 18 percent of typical household waste, and it is more environmentally sound to recycle this material by composting it than to dispose of it in landfills or incinerators.

Grass clipping should be left on the lawn, where they will return nutrients to the turf and improve the soil.


Home composters and compost bins are available from Charlotte Energy Solutions.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Kids can make earth-friendly pots this Earth Day

Wicked Local Woburn, April 19, 2010

Woburn, MA — To celebrate Earth Day, the Children’s Room of the Woburn Public Library invites children of all ages to come in and make earth-friendly pots, then plant seeds to take home and grow.

Pots will be made from newspaper, so participants will be recycling and using a biodegradable pot at the same time. Seeds, earth, and pot-making materials will be supplied.

The event is Thursday, April 22, from 11 a.m. to noon. Children under the age of 7 should have an adult accompany them to help.

Handicapped accessibility can be arranged; contact the Children’s Room one week before the program at 781-937-0405 for further information.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Here's the dirt on biodegradable plant pots

By Jim Hole, Edmonton Journal, April 15, 2010

Photo: Biodegradable rice pots are used for the huge crop of geraniums at Hole's Greenhouses in St. Albert. Photo by: Candace Elliott, The Journal, Freelance

There's always a little history repeating in the greenhouse business. When I was a kid, Mom and Dad grew most of our plants in brown, fibre pots. The containers provided an excellent environment for roots, but had one major problem -- the bottoms rapidly rotted.

Eventually, we switched to lightweight, easy-to-handle plastic containers when they became both available and affordable. In the greenhouse industry, plastic became firmly embedded as the standard. But now, we're returning to our roots.

The demand for more eco-friendly products has led to the development of biodegradable containers, meant specifically for the greenhouse industry. And let me tell you, they're a far cry from the rotten-bottomed pots of my childhood.

Not only are these new containers great for growing in, but they also biodegrade after they've served their purpose. And because they decompose, therefore bypassing the landfill, they enrich your garden soil.

On the sustainability scale, they score high.

So just what are these biodegradable pots I'm talking about? Well, most aren't season-long pots; they're growing-in-until-it's-time-to-transplant pots. They're still a bit more expensive than plastic pots, but I think the additional cost is well worth it. Eliminating plastics and giving back to the earth are good reasons to switch. Besides, there really isn't a price tag we can put on our environment.

So with no further ado, here's some info on the biodegradable pots I'm using this year. Note that the fibres in each type of pot are held together by naturally occurring plant resins, which are also biodegradable.


Coir fibres are found between the outer shell of a coconut and the internal shell that protects the seed. They are stringy, flexible and tough enough to be woven. Most coir comes from stockpiles found in Sri Lanka and India. The fibre is also compressed and sold as a substitute for peat moss. Coir pots are probably the least attractive of the biodegradables I've tried, but their permeability is great for increasing vital airflow around roots.


Rice pots are the most durable and esthetically pleasing of the biodegradables we're using. Smooth, shiny and earth-toned, they're some of the most attractive pots I've ever seen -- biodegradable or otherwise.

The downside, however, is that rice pots are rather brittle, which means they're prone to cracking. At the end of the season, though, that brittleness becomes an advantage -- with one stomp, the pot is reduced to tiny bits, which decompose quickly. Last, but certainly not least, these pots are made from rice hulls rather than the grain itself, so there's no diversion of food to create these containers.


Considering how widely available wheat chaff is, it's not surprising that someone's transformed it into a usable product. Wheat pots are much more pliable than rice ones, which makes them less susceptible to cracking.

However, the green hue of wheat pots also makes them less esthetically pleasing than their competition.

Wheat pots also biodegrade more rapidly than pots made from rice or coir. But that's not a bad thing -- decomposition is what these containers are all about. Just be aware that wheat versions are destined for the compost as soon as you remove the transplants.

While each type of biodegradable pot has its own attributes, all are excellent choices for fostering sustainability. At our greenhouse, we aren't shifting to 100 per cent biodegradable pots just yet. Part of the reason is that a complete product line isn't available. The other reasoning is that plastic still has a place in the greenhouse.

In all likelihood, biodegradable substitutes may eventually eliminate the need for any plastic pots. We are, after all, back to an era where rot is hot.

To keep abreast of what's new in the gardening world, follow twitter.com/holesonline.


New rules for yard waste pickup: city

CBC News, April 15, 2010

Homeowners in an area of Winnipeg still contending with changes in how their garbage is collected have been told they'll also face upheaval in how they dispose of their yard waste.

Starting in the fall, people living in about 42,500 homes in the northwest part of the city will be required to use 100 per cent compostable bags to dispose of yard trimmings or the city will not pick them up from the curb.

The news comes just months after homes were given rolling garbage carts as the city first step toward automating the garbage collection process. The move was part of a cost-cutting and garbage-reduction effort.

But the new collection process didn't initially make accommodations for yard trimmings, angering some homeowners who said their single 240-litre cart wasn't big enough to be able to fit the bulky materials.

Recently, the city relented, saying that in May, they would begin curbside pickup of yard waste.

However, the city has now mandated that homeowners will soon have to use — and pay for — the biodegradable bags which are vegetable-based, and not made out of petroleum compounds like regular black bags.

However, CBC News has discovered that currently, the bags are in short supply at major stores. A visit to six retail outlets on Thursday revealed only one of the stores – Rona – appeared to carry any stock of the bags.

One homeowner affected by the change said she's impressed by the idea, but admitted being frustrated by the lack of supply.

"It's a great idea, except we can't find them anywhere … or they don't have them in stock yet because Manitoba is just catching on with the biodegradable stuff," said Pina Tunney.
Retailers on notice

But Randy Park of the city's water and waste department said local and national retailers have been told of the city's plans and have requested an ample supply be made available.

"We believe that these items will be readily available in local stores shortly," Park said in an email.

Until the change to biodegradable bags takes effect, homeowners can use the following to toss their yard trimmings, which will be collected on a bi-weekly basis.

* Any reusable container without a lid, such as plastic tubs, metal or plastic garbage cans.

* Cardboard boxes.

* Paper yard waste bags made from weather-resistant paper that breaks down over time.

* Any certified compostable bag.

The city would ideally like to be able to use the trimmings it collects as compost to be used at parks and on boulevards, but because of plastic shards left by bags shredded during the mulching process, it has been unable to.

The bags have instead been tipped at the Brady Road Landfill, mulched and spread over garbage heaps.

With files from Mychaylo Prystupa


Simple(R) Shoes Celebrates Earth Day with Its Collection of Biodegradable Footwear

New BIO.D Collection Biodegrades in 20 Years as Opposed to the Industry Average of 1,000 Years
Press Release, MarketWatch, April 15, 2010

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., (BUSINESS WIRE) - Simple(R) Shoes (a division of Deckers Outdoor Corporation) /quotes/comstock/15*!deck/quotes/nls/deck (DECK 136.51, -1.49, -1.08%), a sustainable footwear company, happily celebrates Earth Day 2010 with its BIO.D Footwear Collection, offering consumers and eco-fashion lovers footwear that won't leave a mark on the environment.

This spring, Simple has unveiled its new men's and women's BIO.D shoe collection, featuring biodegradable soles. BIO.D products incorporate rubber, plastic and EVA (foaming material) that are manufactured using EcoPure, an organic compound that will eventually eat away at the bonds holding these materials together. This allows the midsoles and outsoles of the styles, when exposed to the moisture and heat typical of landfills, to biodegrade in 20 years as opposed to the industry average of 1,000 years.

"Our focus at Simple is to make better shoes--shoes that look good and are made sustainably," said Cielo Rios, Simple's Product Line Manager. "The BIO.D collection takes our efforts a serious step forward and we are happy to pioneer a new way to think about shoes--as something that won't sit in a landfill for an eternity."

The BIO.D collection for men and women includes classic Simple sneakers in the D-Solve for men and D-Kay for women along with a flip flop collection for the warm spring and summer months.

About Simple(R) Shoes: A Nice Little Shoe Company

Simple(R) Shoes , based in Santa Barbara, Calif., is committed to making shoes for a happy planet. Simple(R) Shoes began in 1991, as a reaction to the over-hyped, over-marketed, and over-teched sneakers that were dominating the early 90's. Since then, Simple has firmly planted its feet in making the most sustainable and stylish shoes and bags for everyone, everywhere. Simple is owned by Deckers Outdoor Corporation, and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

About Deckers Outdoor Corporation

Deckers Outdoor Corporation strives to be a premier lifestyle marketer that builds niche brands into global market leaders by designing and marketing innovative, functional and fashion-oriented footwear developed for both high performance outdoor activities and everyday casual lifestyle use. Teva(R), Simple(R) Shoes, UGG(R) Australia, TSUBO(R), and Ahnu(R) are registered trademarks of Deckers Outdoor Corporation.

SOURCE: Simple(R) Shoes

R/West PR
Molly Gilbert, 503-223-5443 x118


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mother Earth News Finds Compostable Packaging Claims Half-Baked

The environmental magazine’s tests reveal materials don’t completely break down in home compost piles.
PRWeb, Press Release, EarthTimes, April 13, 2010

Topeka, Kan. (Vocus) - With more companies marketing plant-based bioplastic packaging as “100-percent biodegradable,” Mother Earth News, the leading magazine dedicated to green living, put these claims to the test.

The result? In most cases, the magazine’s lab tests found that “biodegradable” or “compostable” plastics do not decompose in home compost piles. The report also concludes that some companies’ labeling claims are incomplete and misleading.

“While we applaud companies’ efforts to develop more sustainable packaging materials, they need to be upfront about what their products will and won’t do,” says Cheryl Long, editor in chief of Mother Earth News.

Mother Earth News commissioned Woods End Laboratories, an independent facility that specializes in evaluating composts, soils and organic wastes, to test five types of bioplastic shopping bags.

Researchers followed industry standards (ASTM D6400) and monitored the bags for 25 weeks in three scenarios: The team found that none of the bags were completely compostable in typical home composting conditions. Only one of the samples, Mater-Bi made by Novamont, was about halfway degraded after 25 weeks, while BioTuf and Bag-To-Nature brands did well only at the higher temperatures found in commercial composting conditions. Oxo-Biodegradable, which had two samples in the study, didn’t break down at all in any of the scenarios.

The complete report and photos can be found online as well as featured in the June-July issue of Mother Earth News, on sale May 25.

About Mother Earth News
Mother Earth News (www.MotherEarthNews.com) is the Original Guide to Living Wisely. Launched in 1970, each bimonthly issue of Mother Earth News features practical and money-saving information on organic gardening; do-it-yourself projects; cutting energy costs; using renewable energy; green home building and remodeling; rural living; and conscientious, self-sufficient lifestyles.

About Ogden Publications
Ogden Publications Inc. (www.OgdenPubs.com) is the leading information resource serving the sustainable living, rural lifestyle, farm memorabilia and classic motorcycle communities. Key brands include Mother Earth News, Natural Home, Utne Reader, Capper’s and Grit. Ogden Publications also provides insurance and financial services through its Capper’s Insurance Service division.

# # #

Source : PRWeb


Biodegradable/bioabsorbable Interference Screws

Kunststoffe-international.com, April 13, 2010

Researchers have developed a new material based on PLA and hydroxylapatite for production of interference screws. The screws degrade biologically without leaving any holes in bones.

A torn ligament in the knee frequently requires an operation to restore stability to the joint. In the course of this operation, the physician replaces the ligament with a piece of tendon from the leg and secures it to the bone with a so-called interference screw. Until now, such screws have been fabricated from titanium - with the drawback that a second operation is required to remove it. Sometimes, biodegradable screws made from polylactic acid (PLA) are used. However holes occasionally remain in the bone after the screw has degraded.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute Manufacturing Technology and Applied Materials Research (IFAM) in Bremen have now developed interference screws that promote growth of bone in the implant and, depending on the formulation, degrade themselves within 24 months. The compressive strength of the material exceeds 130 N/mm². For comparison, real bone has a compressive strength between 130 and 180 N/mm².

The screws consist of an injection moldable formulation of PLA and hydroxylapatite. This mineral accounts for approximately 40% of the material in bone. In the medical field, it is used as a bone replacement or bioactive coating on titanium implants to improve bone growth. The newly developed composite contains a high percentage of hydroxylapatite and can be processed with excellent results in pellet form by means of injection molding. Complex geometries can be produced without the need for post-molding finishing operations. Moreover, the injection molding process has a beneficial side effect. Normally, the powder injection molded part must be densified after molding at very high temperatures of up to 1400°C. In contrast, the new composite material can be processed at 140°C.

Fraunhofer-Institut für Fertigungstechnik und Angewandte Materialforschung
Wiener Straße 12
28359 Bremen
Tel.: +49 421 2246-0
Fax: +49 421 2246-300

Dr.-Ing. Harald Sambale


China Green Material Technologies, Inc. Announces Record Full Year 2009 Results

Revenues Increase 21.8% to $13.4 Million and Operating Income Rises 19.9% to $5.3 Million
PRNewswire, April 13, 2010

HARBIN, China - China Green Material Technologies, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: CAGM; "CAGM" or "the Company"), a Chinese leader in developing and manufacturing starch-based biodegradable containers, tableware and packaging materials, today announced its financial results for the full year ended December 31, 2009.

Full year revenues increased 21.8% to $13,407,287 for the year ended December 31, 2009 compared to $11,008,513 in 2008, primarily driven by the Company's successful efforts in marketing its biodegradable products. Gross profit was $6,354,433 in 2009 versus $5,327,929 a year ago, while gross margin came in at 47.4% in 2009 and 48.4% for the full year in 2008.

Operating expenses were $1,030,861 in 2009 as compared to $888,232 for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2008, an increase of 16.1%, which reflected a credit in 2008 of $261,887 to reduce the level of allowance for doubtful accounts. Income from operations in 2009 rose 19.9% to $5,323,572 as compared to $4,439,697 in 2008, reflecting the strength of full year revenues.

The Company reported income before taxes of $4,894,136 in 2009 as compared to $4,385,907 in 2008, an 11.6% increase. Full year net income was $4,134,946 in 2009 versus $5,892,352 for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2008. The decline is primarily due to a gain of $1,506,545 related to foreign currency translation in 2008. Net income excluding foreign currency translation was $4,155,326 in 2009 as compared to $4,385,807 in 2008, a decrease of 5.3%. The year-over-year decline is primarily due to the exemption from Chinese income tax in 2008. Basic and diluted net income per share was $0.22 for the year ended December 31, 2009 compared with $0.28 for the year ended December 31, 2008. As of December 31, 2009, the Company had cash and cash equivalents of $7,321,276.

Mr. Su Zhonghao, CEO of CAGM, commented, "We are very pleased with the record results of 2009, which reflect increasing demand for our products as consumers continue to adopt environmentally-friendly, sustainable practices. Importantly, the increase of 22% in revenues is attributable to strong order flow from both new and existing customers. During the year, we took a number of important steps to position the Company for future growth. We expanded our distributor base by nearly 70% to 118 partners and increased our sales team to 38 members. Early in 2010, we made the strategic decision to significantly expand our production capacity to accommodate increasing volume and prepare for anticipated growth as we focus on developing new product categories, entering new markets and winning new customers."

Mr. Su Zhonhao continued. "Looking ahead, we believe the Company is ideally positioned to take advantage of favorable macro environmental policies and increasing awareness and demand for biodegradable products. We believe that we have an early mover advantage; proprietary technology that produces superior quality products; an experienced and cohesive team; a strong order pipeline; key operating and growth strategies designed to increase market share; and the financial flexibility to execute."

About China Green Material Technologies, Inc.

Website: http://www.21cgmt.com

China Green Material Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB: CAGM) is a China-based manufacturer of starch-based biodegradable containers, tableware and packaging products. Headquartered in Harbin city of China, the Company currently has 153 employees. The Company has developed proprietary biodegradable food packaging materials technologies.

Safe Harbor Statement

This press release contains certain statements that may include "forward-looking statements" as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are often identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "optimistic," "intend," "will" or similar expressions. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to be materially different from those described herein as anticipated, believed, estimated or expected. Investors should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this press release. The Company's actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of a variety of risks and factors, including those discussed in the Company's periodic reports that are filed with and available from the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements attributable to the Company or persons acting on its behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by these risks and other factors. Other than as required under the securities laws, the Company does not assume a duty to update these forward-looking statements.

For more information, please contact:

American Capital Ventures
Howard Gostfrand
Tel: +1-305-918-7000
Email: info@amcapventures.com
Web: http://www.amcapventures.com

HC International, Inc.
Christine Greany
Tel: +1-858-523-1732
Email: christine.greany@hcinternational.net
Web: http://www.hcinternational.net

SOURCE China Green Material Technologies, Inc.


Biodegradable 3D glasses coming to theaters?

by Sharon Vaknin, Crave - CNET, April 12, 2010

Though some moviegoers' powerful identification with "Avatar" may have inspired them to ponder the planet and rethink their carbon footprint, they likely missed the irony: millions of nonbiodegradable, plastic 3D glasses were reportedly distributed for the movie.

Luckily, cinemas may be on their way to adopting a more sustainable technology. Cereplast, an L.A.-based maker of bioplastics, has partnered with Oculus3D to create what appear to be the first biodegradable 3D glasses. Unlike current 3D glasses that are made using petroleum-based plastic, these will be manufactured with plastic derived from plant materials.

Cereplast and Oculus3D say they'll be ready to distribute their glasses this summer, according to Greenwala, where we first spotted the news. With the rising cost of oil and a high interest in 3D movies, biodegradable 3D glasses could be just the right move for the movie industry.

RealD--the predominant developer of technology for 3D glasses, and one of four providers of 3D systems for showing "Avatar"--implemented a recycling program for its plastic glasses last fall. Moviegoers are given the option to toss their glasses into a bin after the movie or keep them for reuse.

Glasses that end up in the bin are taken to a sanitizing facility, repackaged, and returned to theaters for redistribution. Intact glasses can be washed up to 500 times, but any that are cracked, scratched, or damaged are likely sent to landfills. RealD told CNET it could not comment on its recycling program because the company is in a quiet period.


Inside Design: The Man Behind PoopBags

By PD&D Editorial Staff, Product Design & Development, April 12, 2010

Farewell to the plastic grocery bag, pet owners no longer have to take such a toll on landfills. Though it is a way to repurpose the many plastic bags compiled after multiple shopping excursions, typical petroleum-based plastic bags can take thousands of years to decompose.

Paul Cannella, the owner of Chicago-based PoopBags.com, created a solution.

Cannella’s PoopBags are 100 percent biodegradable dog waste bags that meet the ASTM D6400 specification — with all of the “earth friendly” products on the market D6400 actually allows a company to legally claim that the product is biodegradable.

Made from corn starch and other renewable resources, PoopBags are shelf stable products that will degrade, after use, at the same rate as the core of an apple.

In PD&D’s latest addition to the Inside Design series, Cannella discusses how you don’t always have to change your behavior to save the environment, sometimes you just the bags you were using.

PD&D: How was the PoopBag born?

Paul Cannella: I used to always run out of bags for my dog, May. I started grabbing extras when I could: my Mom would save them for me, I always asked for double-bagging, etc. I started looking for sources on the web and discovered just how bad plastic bags were for the environment.

In 2003, there were very few resources for biodegradable bags — and it remains true today. While many claim to be biodegradable, only a couple actually meet the ASTM D6400 specification, which allows you to legally claim your product is biodegradable.

PD&D: Where are the bags manufactured?

Cannella: We have two product lines: One is made in the U.S., and the other is made in Norway.

PD&D: Dog owners understand the volume of plastic grocery bags that are “recycled” every year. How much harm are they doing to the environment?

Cannella: Here are some facts:

* Plastics are the fourth highest generated waste in the U.S.
* Plastic grocery bags originate from petroleum, which is non-renewable.
* The bags don’t biodegrade, and they take thousands of years to break down.

I also caution you from using the word ‘recycle’ when using the old bags to pick up dog waste, you're really reusing them. Picking up is still very important to protect our waterways and environment, now adjust to using a 100 percent biodegradable dog waste bag and you'll be doing your part.

PD&D: How have you organized your business to run with as little of a carbon footprint as possible?

Cannella: Our boxes are made from 100 percent recycled materials and constructed using 100 percent wind power. We use as many recycled and natural products as we can for shipping and we try to leverage our reach to spread eco-friendly tips to the masses. We recycle all of our cardboard, paper, plastics (yes, we still drink beverages) and anything else we can. In general, everyone that works at PoopBags has a Green streak.

PD&D: If I order green bags over the internet, how do the emissions used to deliver the bags compare to my footprint if I continue to use plastic grocery bags?

Cannella: That’s an interesting question. We try to offer the bags in bulk to reduce the number of deliveries. In the end, there is no comparison. Those are plastic and they're just plain bad for the environment.

PD&D: How do you plan to orchestrate mass market PoopBag acceptance?

Cannella: We have a constant program of advertising, PR, social networking and relying on our number one asset, our customers and their praise for PoopBags. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of acceptance and we are grateful for a tremendously loyal customer base.

PD&D: What does the future hold for PoopBags?

Cannella: We have a very bright future and it’s very exciting. While we currently sell overseas in a limited capacity, we are preparing to open an office in the United Kingdom. That will be followed by reach to the entire European Union; and then we'll focus on the Pacific Rim. This is balanced with our continued growth here in the States. Along the way, we hope to continue to do some good by making donations to shelters, paying for pet adoptions and donating to the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

PD&D: Given the current state of the environment, what keeps you up at night?

Cannella: I certainly get stressed, but I usually don’t have any issues sleeping at night. I try to do my best to lead a good life, be responsible and rest easy, knowing that my company provides a Green-N-Easy source for folks to make their own small impact on the world.

For more information on PoopBags, check out the www.poopbags.com.


Don't get left holding the wrong leaf bag

If you're a Twin Cities resident living anywhere except Minneapolis, you now must use biodegradable, compostable lawn bags. The once-ubiquitous black plastic bags have been banned for yard waste.
By JOHN EWOLDT, StarTribune.com, April 12, 2010

"Why haven't I heard of this change before?" asked a Hennepin County resident when she called Hennepin County Environmental Services about the switch to compostable bags. John Jaimez, the county's organics recycling specialist, said the change was mentioned frequently last year in newspaper, radio and TV stories as well as online. "I don't have a TV or computer or read the newspaper," she said.

For anyone else sitting on the sidelines, here's the deal. As of Jan. 1, most residents of the seven-county metro area (Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties) who bag their yard waste for pickup must use compostable paper or plastic-like bags made from organic material, often corn-based. Only Minneapolis residents are getting a pass on the new requirement -- until Jan. 1, 2013.

Metro procrastinators who bagged leaves after the last pickup in the fall will have to rebag the waste or find other options. Waste haulers are giving no slack to anyone putting out the black plastic bags. Most haulers, such as Allied Waste, are tagging the black bags with a neon-colored note which states that they will no longer be picked up, said Jessica Kliche, marketing coordinator at Allied.

Earlier-than-expected warm weather caught some retailers off guard. The compostable bags have been in short supply at some stores.

In a check of 10 retailers two weeks ago, Sam's Club and Wal-Mart in Bloomington were out of stock. Target, Menards, Home Depot, Costco and several smaller hardware stores had the paper or plastic-like bags in stock.

You might need help finding compostable bags if you're shopping for the first time. Many stores have the paper bags in one location and the plastic-like bags in another. Target, for example, has the traditional black lawn and leaf bags with all other plastic bags but the compostable ones in the seasonal department.

For a partial list of retailers selling the plastic-like bags, go to www.bpiworld.org/minnesota. More than 30 manufacturers make the translucent, compostable bags, said Steve Mojo, executive director of the Biodegradable Products Institute in New York City.

Finding the right bags

How can consumers know they're buying the correct ones?

The new bags are translucent, usually white, green or pink. But don't be misled by packaging or wording.

Several stores were selling bags labeled "100 percent degradable" or "60 percent recycled plastic" in green boxes labeled "Go Green" or "Good Sense." Open the box, however, and the bags contain black or opaque green plastic that is not compostable.

Plastic bags labeled as being biodegradable but not compostable break down into finer plastic particles, but the plastic does not disintegrate into organic matter. Look instead for wording on the box that says "compostable" or "Meets ASTM D6400 standards."

Drawbacks to new bags

Anyone accustomed to bags made of thick, black plastic with drawstrings or flap closures will find the new bags a little, well, basic.

None of the brands I checked had the drawstring or flap closure or even twist ties. At a size of 30 to 33 gallons, they're also smaller than traditional bags, which are usually 39 to 45 gallons.

Sturdiness is a factor, too. The paper versions offer consistent quality, but the plastic-like bags have varying strengths due to the thickness of the material. Some of the boxes weren't labeled for thickness, which is measured in mils (1 to 1.1 thickness is standard). The Bag to Nature brand at Target was the strongest in our tests.

The new bags have some drawbacks. They are designed to disintegrate more quickly, so filling them with damp material and leaving them in the rain isn't a good idea. Decomposition time will depend on condition and the brand.

Finding a good price

They cost more, too. The old plastic 39- to 45-gallon leaf bags cost 17 to 40 cents each. The 30-gallon Kraft paper bags cost as much as 80 cents each. Home Depot and Menards were cheaper at 38 cents each ($1.88 for five). The lowest price I found was at Costco for 32 cents each ($7.99 for 25).

Among the stores where I found compostable, plastic-like bags, each sold a different brand. Prices ranged from 60 to 83 cents per 33-gallon bag. Menards had the lowest price on its BioBag ($5.99 for 10), but Target's Bag to Nature bags were sturdier ($7.96 for 10). If you're bagging sticks and branches, go for sturdier, thicker bags or use two-ply paper.

Minneapolis gets extra time

Why is Minneapolis off the hook until 2013? The city is considering a program for residents to discard yard and food waste in carts. But it needs extra time to get the carts into place and find an organic recycler that is licensed to accept and handle the waste from 105,000 households, said city spokesman Casper Hill. Currently, there is no such recycler, he said.

Despite all the confusion, Denise Westman of Tonka Bay said she's glad to be helping the environment.

"I think it's a great idea, but I am wondering how the bags will do in the rain," she said.

As for her stash of black plastic bags, Westman plans to use them to haul compost or use them as garbage bags.

"One way or another, they'll still get used," she said.

John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633 or jewoldt@startribune.com. If you spot a deal, share it at www.startribune.com/blogs/dealspotter.


City Begins Leaf Collection

Steven Goode, courant.com, April 12, 2010

The city has begun its spring curbside leaf collection service. The service, which will end April 23, requires biodegradable trash bags.

Residents are asked to place bags of leaves at the curb as they would their trash and recyclables for their weekly assigned waste collection day.

Leaves should be placed at the curb no earlier than 4 p.m. on the day before collection and no later than 7 a.m. on the day of collection.

Leaves may not be placed in trash containers and must be collected separately for recycling. Residents may drop off bagged leaves at the public works yard, 40 Jennings Road.