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Ushma Pandya explains why building design should consider low waste goals at the earliest stages of design. 

Buildings are designed for comfort, productivity, entertaining and living. Buildings have historically not been designed to support low waste goals. However, that is changing as architects and developers have come to realize the importance of design in supporting low waste goals. A few years ago, the Zero Waste Design guidelines were developed and have been a catalyst for thinking about design and waste.

A simple example of the importance of design is the problem of collecting recyclable and organic materials (aka compost) in older office buildings. The pantries can be small and may not have a sink. There is no way to rinse recyclables and no room to put in a third bin for composting. If companies can solve the question of where to collect organic materials in their office space, the problem of where to store the compost bin in the loading dock area arises. If organic materials are not collected every day (and it may not be feasible economically), then a cold storage room is usually required to manage odors.

Without effective storage, tenants and property managers may be reluctant to embark on a composting program. The same issues arise in residential buildings where the refuse room is generally small and often does not have any room for compost bins, let alone recycle bins or any other specialty recycle bins.

One of the issues with designing for waste is that there are many competing priorities for space, and waste does not always have a strong advocate at the table — typically, no one is advocating for waste at the design table, but that is beginning to change. Secondly, the volume of waste and the variety of materials that are tossed have increased over the past few decades, necessitating more space for waste storage and for sorting.

 

Key points include:

  • Identifying the low waste goals
  • Key initiatives and design implications
  • Space requirements

 

Read the full article, Low Waste Goals Need to Be Designed into Buildings from the Beginning, on LinkedIn.

 

Ushma Pandya shares a blog post from his company’s website that highlights key statistics on the use and recycling of plastic and how a new act will affect your life. 

In March of 2021, a new version of the 2020 Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act was reintroduced into Congress. The federal bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA) will be the most extensive set of policy solutions to the plastic pollution crisis ever introduced in Congress. In the rest of this article, I will explain: How we got to this point, what the BFFPPA hopes to achieve, how it will affect you, and how you can help get it passed.  

Plastic and the overall pollution that comes with it is one of the largest existential crises we are facing today. Here are some quick facts about plastic and why it has become such a huge problem. 

91% of plastic is never recycled – breakfreefromplastic.org 

More than 350 million metric tons of plastic are produced each year – Nature.com 

The United States generates more plastic waste than any other country in the world – Sciencemag.org 

10 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans annually – plasticoceans.org 

50% of all plastic produced (380 million tons per year) is for single use purposes only – plasticoceans.org 

World plastic production has increased exponentially from 2.1 million tonnes in 1950 to 147 million in 1993 to 406 million by 2015 – National Geographic 

There will be more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050 – The Ellen MacArthur Foundation 

 

Key points include:

  • The BFFPPA
  • How the BFFPPA will affect your life
  • How to get involved

 

Read the full article, Break Free from Plastic Pollution, on ThinkZeroLlc.com.

 

 

 

As the year  2021 begins, the conversation on climate action and business escalates. One solution that is being explored in more depth is the circular economy. In this article, Ushma Pandya provides concrete suggestions that can help your company take part in the circular economy. 

The circular economy is a trending topic these days and it refers to the idea of keeping materials in use instead of disposing them, generally by landfill/incineration. In the media, we find many examples of how consumers can participate in the circular economy. But it is also possible for companies to participate in the circular economy via their purchasing habits and internal processes. 

Here are some ways that we work with clients on incorporating circularity into their office life. Currently, many people are not in the office but we know that businesses are slowing asking their employees to come back. While the office has low occupancy it is a good time to plan for and implement some of the below.

Ensure Good Recycling

At a minimum, make sure that the organization is recycling correctly (i.e. no contamination such as liquids or paper towels in the recycle) and that all recyclables are put in the right bin. In addition, make sure to separate out specialty recycle material such as electronics, batteries, k-cups, etc. And finally implement composting (more on that below).

Just a quick note that PPE is contaminating the recycling streams currently so it is important to train employees as they come back to the office.

 

Key points covered include:

  • Establishing Reusable Systems
  • Establishing Circular Systems
  • Creating swap spots

 

Read the full article, Circularity and Businesses: What can businesses do to foster the Circular Economy?, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Ushma Pandya addresses a most prevalent problem, and more importantly, provides strategic steps for integrating low-waste solutions into building designs.

Buildings are designed for comfort, productivity, entertaining and living. Buildings have historically not been designed to support low waste goals. However, that is changing as architects and developers have come to realize the importance of design in supporting low waste goals. A few years ago, the Zero Waste Design guidelines were developed and have been a catalyst for thinking about design and waste.

A simple example of the importance of design is the problem of collecting recyclable and organic materials (aka compost) in older office buildings. The pantries can be small and may not have a sink. There is no way to rinse recyclables and no room to put in a third bin for composting. If companies can solve the question of where to collect organic materials in their office space, the problem of where to store the compost bin in the loading dock area arises. If organic materials are not collected every day (and it may not be feasible economically), then a cold storage room is usually required to manage odors.

Without effective storage, tenants and property managers may be reluctant to embark on a composting program. The same issues arise in residential buildings where the refuse room is generally small and often does not have any room for compost bins, let alone recycle bins or any other specialty recycle bins.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Establishing low-waste goals
  • Understanding which key initiatives have design implications
  • Identifying space requirements

 

Read the full article, Low Waste Goals Need to Be Designed into Buildings from the Beginning, on LinkedIn.