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New York City Expanding Municipal Recycling Service To Now Accept All Plastics, Even Toys

New York City selected the 30th Street Pier in the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, as the location for a new state-of-the-art recycling facility to be built and operated by Sims Municipal Recycling. The facility is slated to open in Summer 2013 and will process the majority of New York City’s commingled curbside material. Rendering courtesy of Sims Municipal Recycling.

We all know how confusing it can be trying to figure out what plastics you can and can’t recycle, but at least in New York City, it’s about to get a little easier for residents.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced last week, that effective immediately, the city for the first time will allow residents to recycle all rigid plastics, including toys, hangers, shampoo bottles, coffee cups, and food containers. Until now, only plastics bottles and jugs were allowable.

The new service is part of the city’s partnership with Sims Municipal Recycling. The Bloomberg Administration says the recycling expansion will result in the removal of about 50,000 tons of waste from landfills every year and save “city taxpayers almost $600,000 each year in export costs.”

The administration says this is part of the city’s commitment to double its “recycling rate to 30 percent by 2017.” For the next few months, much of the recycling will go to the Sims-operated Claremont Recycling Center in Jersey City, N.J.

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Asia Pulp & Paper Vows Commitment To Stop Clear Cutting Natural Rainforests In Indonesia

The often embattled Asia Pulp & Paper Group, Indonesia’s largest pulp and paper producer – ranking fourth largest in the world – says it has decided to put “an end to the clearing of natural forests across its entire supply chain in Indonesia.”

Asia Pulp & Paper logging truck passing through the degraded lands in Indonesia. Photo by David Gilbert, and provided by the Rainforest Action Network.

APP says that all of its suppliers have suspended natural forest clearance while an independent assessment takes place to identify areas of high conservation value that will be protected through a long-term management program.

APP has been repeatedly attack over the years from environmental groups (including Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, the Rainforest Action Network, and the environmental coalition Eyes on the Forest) with allegations that it has indiscriminately clear cut many of Indonesia’s  most pristine natural rainforests, including sanctuaries for endangered species including the Sumatran tigers, orangutans, and elephants.  

A Greenpeace’s report called How Sinar Mas Is Pulping The Planet took an investigative look at the practices of APP’s parent company in two vital rainforest areas in Sumatra – the Bukit Tigapuluh Forest Landscape in Central Sumatra, which is one of the last refuges for the Sumatran tiger; and the Kerumutan Peat Swamp forest, which is another important tiger habitat and carbon rich peatland.

Greenpeace said that it “documented Sinar Mas in the act of clearing rainforests and destroying peatland in these areas.”

In addition, Eyes on the Forest published a report called APP: default on environmental covenant, which accused the company of converting parts of the Senepis Tiger Sanctuary in Sumatra into pulpwood plantations.

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Thailand Vows To Enforce Stop on Trading Ivory, Saving Both Domestic and Foreign Elephants

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose country has one of the world’s biggest markets of unregulated ivory, has pledged to begin a legislative process to end the trade within the country’s borders.

Seizures of ivory from illegal trade. Photo courtesy of nature.com.

The pledge was made as part of her remarks last week at an international wildlife trade meeting – the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Bangkok.

The issue has reached a critical point in Thailand. Janpai Ongsiriwittaya, Illegal Wildlife Trade campaign leader for World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Thailand, said that, “Perhaps as few as only 2,500 wild elephants are left in Thailand. That’s as many elephants as were wiped out each month in Africa in 2012 to fuel demand for ivory trinkets.”

“Ongsiriwittaya further explained that, “The sale of ivory from wild elephants is currently illegal for CITES-host Thailand, but the sale of ivory from Thai domestic elephants is legal. Determining whether ivory products are derived from wild elephants or domestic animals is extremely difficult, and enforcement agencies are currently unable to detect illegal ivory entering the Thai trade.”

The WWF says that, “Currently, Thai law permits the sale of ivory from domestic elephants, resulting in a major loophole that allows for massive quantities of illegal African ivory to be sold alongside the domestic ivory in Thailand shops.”

The Thai prime minister’s pledge to end the ivory trade in country came after mounting public pressure from a petition campaign by the WWF and the social activist group Avaaz.

The WWF says that so far “1.4 million voices from 227 countries and territories” have signed the petition. So far though, Shinawatra hasn’t given a timeline for when the ban will take place.

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LA Metro Authority Signs Deal To Install Kinetic Energy Harvesting Technology From Rail Lines

Looking for a solution to yearly increasing energy costs, the LA Metro Authority has signed a $3.6 million deal with the technology company VYCON to design a system for the city’s railways that will capture and store kinetic energy for reuse from train braking systems.

The Metro said in a committee report that it “annually spends approximately $26 million to $29 million for electricity with about $20 million for propulsion power” and for which it faults “the volatile and costly energy market.”

The Metro added that as the years have progressed, it has “seen electricity costs rise due to periodic utility rate increases,” and is now “embracing sustainability, energy efficiency, conservation, and installation of renewable energy sources” as a primary way of gaining control of, and reducing the transit energy usage, costs, and energy dependence.

VYCON designs and manufacturers high-speed energy storage flywheel systems, and plans to install into the transit system a “Wayside Energy Storage Substation (WESS) at the LA Metro Red Line Westlake/MacArthur Park Station” incorporating the company’s REGEN clean energy flywheel system.

To understand it a little better, VYCON explains that the “flywheel-based energy storage systems holds kinetic energy in a spinning mass, and converts this energy to electric power through the use of a high-speed electric motor generator.”

VYCON says that the technology used in the LA transit authority will recycle part of the energy in the system by absorbing and storing kinetic energy generated by braking trains, and returning the stored energy to the trains during acceleration.

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World Bank Approves Almost $94 Million For Rural Sustainable Development In West Africa

Burkina Faso, West Africa. Photo courtesy of kinderpate.at/blog.

Where fertile land and clean water are scarce resources, the World Bank has approved $93.41 million to support the West African country of Burkina Faso in its rural development efforts and sustainable land and forestry management programs.

While the country might not be familiar to most people, it’s landlocked inside six neighboring countries that we do know well, which are: Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Ivory Coast.

Map of Burkina Faso. Image courtesy of aobf.solidairesdumonde.org.

Madani M. Tall, World Bank County Director for Burkina Faso said that “the funds provided will benefit 13 regional communities, reaching over 302 rural communities and encourage participatory local development.”

Explaining the current conditions in the region, Emmanuel Nikiema, World Bank Task Team Leader, said, “Significant flooding followed by localized drought in recent years has negatively affected the agricultural harvest, leaving people with little affordable food to eat.”

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