Zero Waste Business Review - March 2018

It's been an active and exciting month at SJMC, highlighted by re-issuing of contracts with a major client, the recertification of principal advisor Scott J Morrison as a TRUE Advisor, and SJMC signing on as a supporter of the Plastika Reparabilis Challenge, a design competition by UpGyres.

The monthly ZW Business Review recaps and rounds up major news, case studies, and technologies that aim at eliminating business associated waste. Here we go...

Reusable packaging continues to grow in all sectors. Some recent examples include:
  • German grocer, ALDI SOUTH, saved more than 60 million cardboard boxes by using reusable crates for the transport of fruit and vegetables in 2017. By working with suppliers to create a closed returnable pooling system that was able to save more than 24,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents and more than 30,000 tonnes of cardboard by using reusable transport packaging.  From the Press Release
  • Planted Table is a Zero Waste startup food delivery business in Oakland. Meals are delivered to your door in signature Planted Table insulated bags. The meals arrive freshly packed in eco-friendly glass containers as individual servings that you can enjoy at home or easily bring to work or school. Containers are picked up weekly.
  • Greenpeace chimes in on the issue of reusable packaging in this interview with Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner for Greenpeace UK. From Packaging Europe
  • Can You Imagine A Supermarket With No Plastic? Fast Company can.
  • PACK THE FUTURE is the latest exhibit to open at The Museum of Brands in London UK. Review by Packaging Europe.
  • Coffee Cups... Argh! Reusable is trending in Aus.


Reusing comes in many forms, including using a "waste material" for another purpose, this is sometimes also referred to as Industrial Symbiosis (IS). IS which plays an integral role in the successful function of "industrial ecology", explains a relationship between two or more firms where the unwanted by-products of one firm are used as a resource by another (Graedel & Allenby, 2010). This concept is often applied to industrial materials (metals, plastics, wood, packaging) but is increasingly being adopted and applied to agricultural and food manufacturing bi-products too.

For food manufacturers/processors, bi-products are often reused as animal feed in industrial livestock operations. This symbiotic relationship is in no way exclusive to that role and can exist at any level, including as small as a local juice bar. Ripe Juicery in Barrie Ontario, for example, has reused their juice pulp by donating it to the Wishing Well Animal Sanctuary in Bradford Ontario, to feed 74 hungry rescued farm animals. Twice a week a volunteer delivers the pulp material to the farm where it is a nutritional source of calories for these recovering animals.

Within the brewing process of beer there are spent grains and spent hops that are usually composted and sometimes sent to livestock as feed. One major problem with the later is that the material is heavy, wet, can have a strong smell and must be consumed by livestock quickly after processing. In steps GrainHaus with an innovative process to stabilize spent grain on site, as it is produced. This allows for easy collection and storage due to the massive reduction of weight and volume through water removal. No more sour smell, no more storage troubles.

(Like this example? Check out SJMC's SustySuds Series)

In a similar strategy, NetZro Reduces, Recovers and Reharvests with their technologies in Food and Water. NetZro manufactures an infrared drying oven for eggshells, currently piloted in Wright County, Iowa. Wirght County has huge egg production and liquid egg production, leaving 50 tons of eggshells a day to be disposed of in landfills. NetZro’s technology strips the membranes off the eggshells, 10 percent which is the membrane and 90 percent calcium hard shell and separates it in 20 minutes. The membranes have collagen that can be used in creams, while the shells are rich in calcium carbonate, which is found in supplements and antacids.


Reducing waste, and the overuse of even recyclables, is real and being addressed in various ways:

How is China going to cope with all that cardboard? Check out a brief podcast below, or read the interview here.

Reducing chemical wash stages with lazers! Levis has developed a technology that uses lazers to replicate the look of vintage denim required in just 3 steps, down from 18 to 20 steps per finish.


Composting has big benefits, like with the first two examples here it localizes a source of compost that can improve soil quality.

Big Wheel Burger composts food waste and packaging and then uses it within the community gardens it created in the unused boulevard area around its flagship location. Big Wheel Burger is a participant in the Victoria BC Food Eco District program.

Steel City Soils, since 2009 in Pittsburgh, collects food waste from 15 restaurants and creates a top quality compost. Restaurants can then buy back the compost and it is also available to the public.

When compost is a planned end-of-life strategy for single-use products such as packaging, we begin to see contamination and unenforced rules and regulations. Recently the National Zero Waste Council released Packaging and the Circular Economy: A Case Study on Compostables in Canada, which identifies important enablers and barriers to the recovery of compostable packaging. The report reviews the enabling factors and the barriers to achieving circularity in compostable packaging.

One of the most telling points of where we are is the following data points, "Of the municipalities consulted which have compost manufacturing facilities taking food scraps, 23% accept fibre compostable packaging only, 19% accept no compostable packaging, 14% accept all certified compostable packaging, and 44% expressed a range between accepting fibre to accepting all certified compostable packaging." 

14% accept the material? If only 14% accept it, then arent product claims therefore misleading because there's only a 14% chance that it will be composted? This needs to be addressed! I've put in a request for the Appendices of this study and will likely followup in the next month's edition of Zero Waste Business Review.


There are a number of products and initiatives recently launched that hold or encourage the Cradle To Cradle certification standards, some of interest include:
  • The Dutch denim-maker G-Star Raw detailed numerous changes within its supply chain to produce what the company calls "the most sustainable denim ever". To help push the industry forward, they also made the information open-source through Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s Fashion Positive Materials Library. Read more at Environmental Leader
  • The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s Fashion Positive Initiative has launched the Innovators Hub, a resource center for the growing circular fashion movement.
  • Memo Bottle looks like a notepad, but its a C2C Certified glass bottle. Cool!!!
  • Glass container manufacturer Owens-Illinois (O-I) is the first food and beverage packaging company to receive gold-level certification for material health and re-utilization under the Cradle to Cradle standard. Environmental Leader


A few other stories of interest:

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