Archive for the ‘circular economy’ category

Blue Roof – A Roof Made From Sewage Products

November 21st, 2017
BlueCity Dome, Rotterdam

BlueCity Dome

In Rotterdam, BlueCity is a Circular Economy incubator for companies developing technologies that create products from waste. So far they have about 12 companies that are working within their facilities – which are located in a defunct indoor tropical swimming centre called Tropicana. Instead of tearing down the building, this group has gone in to give it a second life. In terms of the kinds of businesses they have been incubating, here is how they explain it:

The entrepreneurs located in BlueCity all connect their waste-streams in different ways.  The coffee-waste that is produced by Aloha Bar-Restaurant serves as nutritious soil for the mushrooms of RotterZwam. The carbon dioxide that is released in the process is used by Spireaux for the creation of Spirulina, and in BlueCity Lab mycelium is used to develop packaging materials. Of course, to complete this perfect circle, you will ultimately find the mushrooms that grew on the coffee waste of Aloha on the menu of the same restaurant. [source]

They recently launched the BlueCity Circular Challenge in which they challenged multi-disciplinary teams of students and young professionals to come up with solutions to some chronic waste problems. Four companies offered up their waste streams to see if the teams could come up with a marketable product from the waste.  The waste streams were:

  • disposable coffee cups,
  • the filtered-out waste from sewage treatment plants (ie., sanitary products and flushable wipes, etc… – stuff that isn’t even supposed to go into the sewage system but ends up there anyway),
  • electric meters made out of Bakelite,
  • the horticultural business left if up to the team to decide which waste stream to address.

The winner was the team that took the filtered-out waste and turned it into a substrate for green roofs. It turns out that all those products (sanitary napkins, tampons, wipes…) are also highly absorbent, meaning they can soak up a lot of liquid. That makes them a great starting product for a green roof base because they can hold enough water to help get the plants going and can absorb rain really well while diverting rain from the sewer system. The idea is to sterilize, dry and compress the waste into tiles, and then use it in green roofs as a substrate. The team won €5,000 and a place at BlueCity to further explore their idea.

For more on the BlueCity Circulars, visit the BlueCity website (although it’s mostly in Dutch, there are several English blog posts, including the one featuring the four waste challenges):

::via Materia

BonApp launches its First Food Sharing fridge at le 5ième

October 28th, 2016
BonApp fridge and stand in le 5ième

BonApp fridge and stand in le 5ième

BonApp, the brainchild of Geneviève Rousseau, is all about helping extra food stay out of the (new) compost program in Montreal. The idea is for people to share excess produce before it goes bad. To facilitate this exchange, BonApp is setting up its first 5 fridges (it is hoped the first of many) in community spaces on the island of Montreal. The first fridge was launched at le 5ième, a zero-waste cafe and coworking space, in Little Burgundy. » Read more: BonApp launches its First Food Sharing fridge at le 5ième

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Splosh – Eco-friendly Cleaning, Almost Zero Packaging Waste

September 6th, 2016

splosh logo If you read this blog enough, you know by now, that I hate waste. I hate that we have to throw out perfectly good packaging items such as spray bottles, glass jars, and cardboard shoe boxes. I reuse as many as I can but at some point, there is a limit. So, when I stumbled on Splosh through the Ellen MacArthur website, I saw a company after my own heart. Splosh makes eco-friendly household cleaners and has thought of every facet to minimize waste production along the way. Once you are set up with your first cleaning kit — first order includes the bottles — you order your refills via a website. » Read more: Splosh – Eco-friendly Cleaning, Almost Zero Packaging Waste

Should cities ban materials such as single use plastic bags and water bottles?

April 6th, 2016

plastic water bottle waste

plastic water bottle waste (source: By Effeietsanders (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

To ban or not to ban, that is the question…. In the case of Montreal, it has decided to place a ban on single-use plastic bags starting in 2018 which I disagree with and you can read why in this post. Now, it is considering banning single-use plastic water bottles, and again, I think it is the wrong way to handle this waste problem.

You might be thinking, “What kind of person who calls herself an environmentalist isn’t against a ban on single-use plastic water bottles?” That’s a fair question. First, let me say that I hate single-use plastic water bottles and bags, but I find myself using both on a few occasions per year.

A city that relies heavily on tourism needs to consider the consequences of a ban

» Read more: Should cities ban materials such as single use plastic bags and water bottles?

Does Lego really need to spend $150 million on building a better block?

March 1st, 2016

Lego Blocks By Arto Alanenpää (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Lego is one of my all-time favourite toys. As a kid, I loved building and creating, and the blocks brought out the inner architect in me. As a parent, I was thrilled that my kids loved Lego, so I could buy as much as my budget would allow for them to play with, of course.

One of the awesome things about Lego is its indestructibility. We’ve all encountered just how indestructible it is when we’ve stepped on one of those little bricks in our sock feet. It can hurt like the dickens. But its durability has good and bad aspects to it. The good: the blocks always fit together perfectly, unlike Lego’s competitors’ blocks. The bad, once it ends up in landfill, it will be there pretty much forever. Eventually, most of us grow out of Lego, and while many of us will keep a few sets, most of it, unfortunately, will find its way to landfill, maybe not now — it might get put away for future grandchildren or get sold at garage sales —  but sooner or later it will end up in the garbage. » Read more: Does Lego really need to spend $150 million on building a better block?

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