Too many green labels equal confusion for consumers

There are hundreds of "green" labels out there, providing plenty of confusion for consumers

There are hundreds of “green” labels out there, providing plenty of confusion for consumers

While participating in the recent Sustainable Foods Summit in San Francisco, I browsed the trade show outside the event. One of the first booths I encountered was for Control Union Certification, which is an independent inspection and certification body. In my conversation with their representative, I came across a startling fact.

There are literally hundreds of certification programs out there. It’s a veritable morass of information that is impossible for consumers – and even somewhat educated journalists – to keep up with, much less to understand!

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Not enough biofuel – Lufthansa ends test trials

Lufthansa will halt it's biofuel test flights due to lack of sufficient biofuel stock

German airline carrier Lufthansa has announced it will end flight trials using biofuel due to its inability to tap into sufficient reliable supplies.

The company says it has used up its stocks of certified biofuel.

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Will Costa Rica be the world’s first carbon neutral country?

Will Costa Rica be the world's first carbon neutral country?While in Costa Rica last Fall, I wrote a number of posts about that country’s ongoing commitment to sustainability. In one of them I mentioned Costa Rica’s goal to become the world’s first carbon neutral country.

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New kit will help keep pharmaceuticals out of our water

Prescription drugsOn March 10, 2008, MSNBC’s website read:

“Pharmaceuticals lurking in U.S. drinking water … AP probe found traces of meds in water supplies of 41 million Americans”

More stories have since revealed how extensive the problem’s  become. The real ramifications of prescription drugs in the water we drink hasn’t been fully determined but this news is certainly enough to scare the heck out of most of us.

Leave it to the ingenuity of a pharmacist and an engineer to come up with a viable solution.

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Southwest Airline "ups" their sustainability quotient

Southwest green plane 2Southwest Airlines, famous for their low fares and offbeat cabin announcements, is going boldly into the green horizon.

They’ve announced the addition of their green plane – a Boeing 737-700 which, they say, achieves a weight savings of of almost five pounds per seat, saving fuel and reducing emissions, and uses recyclable materials.

Some of these eco-friendly elements include:

  • recyclable floor carpet that can eliminate the total replacement of certain areas
  • recyclable, durable seat covers
  • Southwest green plane 1a lighter weight foam fill from Garnier PURtec for seat back covers
  • a bulkhead product that’s more long lasting than their current leather one
  • aluminum aisle strips versus the standard plastic ones, which makes them recyclable,  more durable and reduces waste

Sounds good so far. This adds to Southwest’s on-going environmental practices, which include water conservation, energy management and even noise reduction.

Way to go, Southwest. Now if you can just make the conversion to biofuel, I’ll really get excited!

KLM to boldly test the first biofuel passenger flight

KLM airlinesTaking airline passenger flights to a new height, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will test their first passenger-filled flight on November 23rd, using a 50-50 mix of biofuel and regular fuel.

With the aviation industry’s recent commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this is a big step forward.

KLM to use camellias to produce biofuel for their test flight

KLM to use camellias to produce biofuel for their test flight

KLM plans to use biofuel made from camellia crops, which don’t impact the food chain and don’t require large amounts of water or fertilizers. The bigger “plus” is this biofuel produces 84 percent less emission than other jet fuel.  That’s a pretty dramatic decrease.

You can be sure the aviation industry will be watching this test closely. If all goes well, and we hope it does, this could be the beginning of a big shift other airlines will be sure to follow.

New Generations – a better carbon neutral biofuel

Not all biofuels are alike.

new-generation-biofuels-logo-300x911New Generation Biofuels, a renewable fuels provider, offers commercial customers a biofuel with minimal CO2 emissions and more than 40% lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions than either diesel or biodiesel.

New Generations’ biofuel comes from a variety of feedstock – vegetable oil, animal fat and/or algae. With water and some proprietary ingredients added to the mix, it’s then blended. The result is a white milky substance with virtually no sulfur, which the company believes provides a lower cost, renewable, sustainable and fully biodegradable alternative energy source.

Originating in Italy, this amazing patent-pending technology has made its way to North America where, says New Generation Biofuels Chief Marketing Officer Phil Wallis,there are several perfect large markets.

“We go after the market with the (largest) need to reduce their emissions,” he said – power generation and the boiler markets. The latter includes institutions, hospitals, and schools.

Currently working with combustion turbines and boilers, Wallis says the biofuel combusts so well, one client – Cleaver Brooks, a leading manufacturer of commercial and industrial boilers – saw a 50% reduction of NOx.

new-generations-biofuels2-150x1111This biofuel has a small carbon footprint compared to alternative existing fuel oil or biodiesel, says Wallis. “Many of the alternatives out there – wind, solar, etc. – require equipment, which comes at a cost.”  No extra equipment is necessary to make the switch to New Generations’ biofuel, Wallis said.

All that’s required is to clean the tank, tune the boiler to this kind of fuel mix (which takes about 1½ hours to do), then put the white liquid in.

“it’s as easy as changing your light bulbs.” Wallis said. This low cost alternative is “a low-hanging fruit for boilers,” he said.