UrthPact Customer, Totally Green Bottles and Caps, Named a Finalist at the 2017 Bio-Based Innovations Awards

image of three Totally Green Bottles and Caps plastic bottle productsBecause we’re enthusiastic about all things recyclable and compostable, we’re excited to congratulate UrthPact customer, Totally Green Bottles and Caps (TGBC), for having their 100% compostable water bottle and cap — the world’s first – named a “Highly Commended Bio-Based Product of the Year” at the recent Bio-Based Live Americas event in San Diego.

The honor was bestowed on September 27th at Bio-Based Live America’s 2017 Bio-Based Innovation Awards ceremony honoring standout products available in the Americas that are derived from plants and other renewable bioresources to provide alternatives to conventional petroleum-derived products.

For two days, several hundred participants from mid-size to very large, well-known brands such as IBM, Procter  & Gamble, Eastman Chemical Company, and Coca Cola were in attendance.   The conference agenda was jam-packed with valuable panel expert insights focused on mastering four key areas to achieve success:  technology, money, models and markets.

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Recycling and Composting at UMass Amherst: Getting Smarter About Waste

image of UMass's campus

Colleges and universities have always been a wellspring for innovation and the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been a stand-out among them. As social and economic concern has grown over how we manufacture, consume, and discard products, UMass Amherst has brought its intellectual and educational firepower to bear on issues such as recycling, composting, and sustainability.

It all began in 2007 when the president of the five-campus UMass system signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. In response, UMass Amherst established an Environmental Performance Advisory Committee (EPAC) that developed the campus’ first Climate Action Plan, which was released in 2010. Two years later, the plan was revised by the Chancellor’s Sustainability Committee, formerly EPAC. The revised plan reflected campus accomplishments and presented a comprehensive blueprint for future sustainability efforts across all aspects of the campus. Climate Action Plan 2.0 helped establish metrics and sustainable goals for the campus.

Subsequently, undergraduates and graduate students campaigned to encourage a more environmentally friendly and ecologically sound approach to campus operations, including the hiring of Ezra Small as the school’s first Campus Sustainability Manager in Facilities & Campus Services. Today are more than a dozen employees focused on sustainability and working in a variety of positions, including, their communications, residential life, the library, and physical plant operations.

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Industrial Composting: What It Is and How It Works

image comparing how long it takes for conventional plastic to decompose compared to bioplastics

The world is awash in traditional, petroleum-based plastics that are choking our waterways and filling up our landfills. Here at UrthPact, we’re committed to compostable plastic products, providing manufacturers and consumers with the plastics they want and need, but created using environmentally-friendly, biodegradable raw materials that can be safely composted to nourish the earth.

Today, in addition to the conventional backyard compost pile or bin that can efficiently handle small amounts of waste materials from lawns, gardens and kitchens there are industrial composting facilities designed to effectively process large volumes of municipal and commercial waste.

There are basically three techniques used in industrial composting: windrow, in-vessel, and aerated static pile composting. Windrow composting is an open-air process that places the composting material into long piles approximately 5 feet high called “windrows.” These windrows are turned regularly to ensure that all the composting materials spends some time in the warm, moist center of the pile where bacterial activity produces heat that encourages further breakdown. Because windrow composting is on open air process, it is used primarily for yard and garden waste to help control odor.

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From Zero to Hero: Zero Waste Initiatives

image of the grandstands and field at Fenway Park

Zero waste initiatives are gathering steam, especially, in large sporting venues and airports which historically have generated considerable solid waste from vendors and thousands of fans and travelers. Major ballparks such as Boston’s beloved Fenway Park and the Los Angeles Coliseum, as well as international airports such as Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson are all getting on board with zero waste initiatives designed to drive down the cost of waste processing and removal as well as promote greener, more conscientious treatment of the environment.

Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, is the oldest ballpark in the country, but it’s also one of the most advanced when it comes to recycling and composting. Fenway Park is now a single-stream recycling facility, meaning all recyclable materials can be co-mingled, including plastic, cardboard, and paper – encouraging fans to recycle their food containers and programs instead of just tossing them in a trash can.

Even Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is getting in on the recycling action. As one of the busiest airports in the world, it was ripe for adopting an aggressive approach to recycling and began planning for a first-of-its-kind recycling and composting facility on airport grounds. While the project is still in the planning and proposal stage, the city is looking to have the program up and running by 2020.

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UrthPact, Preserve, and Totally Green Bottles and Caps Score at the Green Sports Alliance Summit

All National Sports Leagues attend – Bill Walton Keynotes

Paul Nickerson of UrthPact and Brian O’Donnell of Preserve with an array of compostable and recycled content products

UrthPact teamed up with our customers Preserve and Totally Green Bottles and Caps to sponsor and share an exhibit booth at the Green Sports Alliance Summit. The conference took place in the newly built, energy efficient (LEED platinum certified) Golden 1 Center in Sacramento California. All of the major sports leagues in the country attended including the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS,  and NASCAR.  Many colleges, and universities, as well as international and lesser known leagues like USA Waterski, also attended.

We became a sponsor due to the strong presence of the leagues and their ability to support sustainable practices in their facilities. Since our main products are compostable plastic products, venues with closed-loop waste streams that contain and isolate the disposal of compostables are ideal.  Stadiums, airports, colleges and large corporate campuses fit this closed-loop model well.  This ensures that our customers’ compostable bottles, plates, and compostable cutlery get to the proper end-of-life destination.

From the onset of the summit, I sensed that this conference was to be like no other. As a sponsor and exhibitor, we were encouraged to participate in all of the conference sessions. We were invited to mix and mingle with attendees at all of the events, including meals and conference activities. This made our team feel more like partners than vendors.  A welcome change to the usual vendor/attendee relationship. And on a side note, the food was fantastic. The chef and his staff actually received a standing O at the evening celebration and ECO-fashion show. (Sacramento State University students designed and modeled recycled and upcycled clothing in their annual Student Fashion Association Fashion Show at the event. Way to go SAC State!) And hats off to the events planners of the Green Sports Alliance Summit.

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Insights and Innovations at Biobased Re-Revolution of Plastics

Biobased Re-Revolution of PlasticsWe got a chance to connect with UrthPact’s own VP of Technology, Derek Helmer, and VP of Operations, Mike Pousland, about their recent trip to Newark, NJ for the InnoPlast Solutions Conference, May 23-25th.  The InnoPlast Solutions goal is to adopt a mission related to plastics, innovation, and business growth and select a team of technical and business savvy experts to educate participants.  The conference offers solid networking opportunities as well for the plastic and bioplastic industry.  The focus and theme of this year’s conference, BioBased Re-Revolution of Plastics, was to highlight the utilization of non-fossil raw materials that leads to preservation of petroleum resources and reduction of air/ land/ water pollution.

As far as the UrthPact team is concerned, this conference delivered a great value as it was full of participant engagement and packed full of information rich presentations showcasing topics related to the bio-industry.

Without a doubt, the biggest take-away was the strong drive on the part of attendees and presenters to replace petroleum as a feedstock for polymers before the Earth runs out of oil or oil prices become too high. Research has shown that solutions to this pressing problem will be found in developing bio-based replacements for existing polymers such as BioPE, BioPET, PEF, and PTF or finding new polymers that can replace existing materials such as PHA that do not source from oil.

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