Friday, December 28, 2012

Israel's Youth Groups Go Green

Green Badge
Israel's youth movements have added a new environmental code to their activities, with the aim of promoting the principles of environmental responsibility and sustainability.

Many chapters have launched recycling and waste separation projects and have even barred the use of paper plates and Styrofoam cups.

Some of the leading youth group branches, such as those belonging to the Israeli version of the Scouts, have even applied to the Environmental Protection Ministry for recognition as "green chapters."

The ministry has formed a joint committee with the Education Ministry and the Youth Movement Association to review such petitions, and create the appropriate "green badge."

According to the Environmental Protection Ministry, dozens of chapters nationwide have applied for the badge.

Source: Ynetnews

Monday, November 26, 2012

Israel Rivals Europe in Bottle Recycling

Recycled plastic bottles
Israel's plastic bottle recycling is steadily growing and now rivals Europe, a new report by the ELA Recycling Corporation said.

According to the non-profit organization's data, over five million plastic bottles and containers have been recycled in Israel over the past 10 years.

Israel recycles 50.3% of its plastic bottles – substantially more than the United States (29.3%) and similar to Europe (51%).

Israel also recycles 77% of all glass bottles and cans.

Consumers' recycling habits and norms have been revolutionized. In about 8-9 years of intensive activity, Israel was able to catch up to Europe, which has been recycling for 25 years.

According to ELA's data, 61% of all containers are recycled, compared to 35% in 2002. The practice has saved Israel over 500,000 tons of waste that otherwise would have ended up in landfills.

Much of the change in the public's behavior was due to the availability of recycling bins, which can now be found on nearly every street in Israel.

The designated bins have contributed to a rise of 20% in recycling – from 20% in 2002 to 40%.

Institutional recycling also contributed to the encouraging data: over 20 million plastic bottles have been collected in schools alone over the past decade.

The IDF is also taking an active part in recycling efforts: over 7.6 million bottles have been collected by the military, with Military Intelligence's 8200 Unit holding the army's recycling record.

The religious sector has made steady progress on the matter. Awareness of the importance of plastic recycling is growing in the Druze and Arab communities as well.

About ELA

Deposit on Bottles and Beverage Containers Law (commonly known as the Deposit Law or the Bottle Recycling Law) was introduced in Israel in 2001. The Drink Containers Collection Corporation ('ELA') was called to be set up under this law for the purpose of handling the collection and recycling of bottles and cans. ELA was formed by the Manufacturers’ Association and four largest drinks manufacturers and retailers, who undertook to ensure that ELA collects containers, meets collection targets as stipulated by law, and provides containers as the raw material for recycling industries.

Source: Ynetnews

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Israeli scientist awarded 2012 World Food Prize

Israeli scientist Daniel Hillel was awarded the 2012 World Food Prize for conceiving and implementing a radically new mode of bringing water to crops in arid and dry land regions, known as micro-irrigation.

Hillel's pioneering scientific work in Israel revolutionized food production, first in the Middle East, and then in other regions around the world over the past five decades. His work laid the foundation for maximizing efficient water usage in agriculture, increasing crop yields, and minimizing environmental degradation.

Hillel proved that plants grown in continuously moist soil, achieved through micro-irrigation, produced higher yields than plants grown under the old flooding or sprinkler irrigation methods.

Using less water in agriculture per unit of land not only conserves a scarce resource in arid and semi-arid regions, but also results in significantly "more crop per drop," with the successful cultivation of field crops and fruit trees - even in coarse sands and gravel.

By integrating complex scientific principles, designing practical applications, and achieving wide outreach to farmers, communities, researchers, and agricultural policymakers in more than 30 countries, Hillel has impacted the lives of millions.

The World Food Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize, whose pioneering work in producing higher yielding strains of wheat ushered in the Green Revolution, which transformed modern agriculture and prevented global famine.

Source: NEWS TRACK India

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Israeli "Green Dream Team" To Compete In Environmental Olympics

Solar Decathlon
An Israeli team has for the first time qualified for what is considered one of the world’s most prestigious environmental technology competitions: the US-sponsored Solar Decathlon, a biennial contest sponsored by the US Department of Energy. Teams from around the world will gather to present designs and models for the “house of the future” — a house that produces more energy than it consumes.

First held in 2002, the Decathlon has taken place in the US every other year. The next Decathlon, however, will be held in China, after an agreement on the matter between the US and China last year. Twenty teams from around the world will be participating in the Decathlon finals next August.

An Israeli team almost made it to a Solar Decathlon — not the American one, but the European one — which is held in the alternating year that the US contest is not held. In 2009, an Israeli team from Ariel University was named as a finalist in the European event — but was disqualified by host country Spain for political reasons.

The purpose of the contest, which is open to teams from universities and colleges around the world, is to encourage teams to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. Contestants actually build a model of their design, which is put on display at the location where the contest is held. Awards are granted for designs that make the best use of solar energy in each of 10 categories including architecture, market appeal, engineering, affordability, appliances, home entertainment, and energy balance.

It’s that last category that the Israeli team, composed of students and faculty from nearly a dozen Israeli academic institutions, is aiming to sweep. The contest will take place in August 2013 — a full year from now — but the team will need that time to build a working model of their design.

The Israeli project will consist of an 85-square-meter house (a single-family dwelling), to be built modularly — a method that allows for expansion as a family grows. The design stresses the connection of the indoor and the outdoor spaces, increasing the awareness of the environment and reducing energy and resource dependence. The house will be built around an open patio, providing ventilation and light. It will be equipped with the latest in Israeli-designed environmental technology, using as many resources and features in the house as possible to produce the power needed to keep the lights on and the appliances running. For example, the house will be equipped with an array of photovoltaic (PV) panels, producing electricity from sunshine. But there will be other applications of PV technology, such as high-transparency PV glass units for curtain walls and skylights, developed by Israeli startup Pythagoras Solar.

 “Our perspective on building is future-focused, with the aim of developing a method of planning and design in which buildings can better respond to change, with the potential to be taken apart, modified and recycled,” the team said in a statement. “The Solar Decathlon is a rare opportunity to raise awareness of environmental thinking and bring this into day-to-day practice.”

The team is made up of students and staff from a variety of disciplines, including architecture, engineering, interior design, environmental studies, and other areas.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Keeping Warm Like a Honeybee

In the land of Milk and Honey, the honey bee is one to be emulated. Specifically, for the purpose of solar water heaters that have been created based on the honeycomb model.

More succinctly, Israeli company Tigi Solar has taken its inspiration from the worker bee to create a very unique and Earth friendly solar water heater. Building Tigi's solar water heater in the shape of a honeycomb creates a far more efficient solar water heater. In fact, it is so efficient that it can pipe boiling water made from the sun into people's homes.

Tigi's solar water heater, aptly named Honeycomb Collector, is based on a "transparent insulation mechanism" which increases the efficiency of the water heater with minimal energy loss.

Not only does national use of the Honeycomb Collector reduce national energy usage and energy costs, but the technology, while currently being used in a warm climate country like Israel, also aims to reduce energy costs in colder countries in Europe. 

Read more about it here

Off to enjoy a bit of sweets and honey while we wait for Hurricane Isaac to visit here in South Florida, till next time! J

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Earth-Friendly Food and Drink Wrap

Plastics packaging is a nightmare for the environment. Taking hundreds of years — if at all — to degrade, plastic wrappers and plastic-lined juice boxes clog landfill sites, choke wildlife and eventually leach dangerous chemicals into groundwater. Cities including San Francisco, Toronto and Mexico City have gone so far as to ban plastic bags, and savvy consumers are seeking better alternatives.

Tired of nagging her kids to bring home their used food packaging and cans for recycling, Israeli computer-engineer-turned-entrepreneur Daphna Nissenbaum hired expert consultants in biopolymers to search the world for a fully compostable packaging material. They found nothing to fit the bill.

Because Nissenbaum couldn’t find this green wonder material on the shelf of any chemist’s lab she approached, she started a green packaging company, Tipa. The idea was to create a package from which you can eat or drink and then throw it into the organic waste stream to fully decompose –– to go back to nature in the compost bin.

The material had to be made to decompose under certain conditions — with the right heat and bacteria, for instance — and not in the kitchen cupboard. The packaging would have to have a nice touch, yet be flexible enough not to break. It couldn’t be noisy. It would have to be transparent, yet create a barrier against oxygen and water. Plus it would need to be sealed well and it would need to be able to hold food with a six-month shelf life, at least.

There are biodegradable films out there, but they cannot be used for food packaging. Israeli and US experts at Tipa created a patentable solution based on new and different green materials that can be used for all kinds of food packaging.

To ensure that no new equipment would be required for adopting Tipa’s packaging, the new solution was continuously tested on existing machinery in working factories.

Tipa captured a first place at Israel’s Cleantech 2012 out of 50 promising companies and also won a prize at Anuga Foodtec, a leading food industry packaging conference in Germany.

With the marketing environment ripe for Tipa’s packaging solution, new material based on plant and plant derivatives will go on sale shortly.

Source: Israel21c

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Oil-covered birds
We are all too familiar with those heartbreaking images of dying wildlife at the site of an oil spill. In fact, between 180,000 and 240,000 marine oil spills occur around the world every year.

Current oil spill containment and removal products are slow in absorption, expensive, often ineffective and sometimes even potentially toxic.

New Israeli company EcoBasalt developed a unique manufacturing and emulsification process to produce super thin basalt fiber compound SB-1 – a mineral sorbent made of basalt fibers from volcanic rock that, according to the company’s website, is “more efficient and more effective than any sorbent currently on the market, that allows the removal and reuse of adsorbed oil, and that is fully recyclable and eco-friendly.”

SB-1 has already been tested by independent laboratories in the US, the Netherlands and in Israel. It is safe for the environment and presents no health hazards.

SB-1 can adsorb all types of oil and does not require disposal of oil-filled sorbents. It can be recycled, mixed in with asphalt and concrete for tarmacs.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Reinvent the Toilet Challenge

An Israeli-invented toilet that needs no water and leaves no waste caught the interest of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which awarded parent company Paulee CleanTec $110,000 “to create next generation sanitation technology to help make sanitation services truly safe and sustainable for the poor.”

The toilet is based on the same principle as the high-tech pooper-scooper invented by renowned Hebrew University biotech innovator Prof. Oded Shoseyov.

Solid waste, which also can include toilet paper, will be mixed with chemical formula for not more than 30 seconds, instantly turning it into odorless, sterile fertilizer. The fertilizer will be automatically dropped into a removable canister where it can be collected from time to time and then be used for field and/or home crops.

The liquid waste will be sterilized separately in another reservoir, and then pumped up to flush the toilet – powered by heat energy created from the solid-waste process and stored in a battery. According to the still-secret drawings of the patent-pending device, the internally created heat would even power a light inside the stall.

Just to back up the energy source, a small solar panel will be installed on the roof. There is no need for any sewerage or electricity infrastructures or connections. No need for water to flush. No special maintenance — the chemicals can be put in its dispenser once a month and the cost of one use is only a few cents.

These features are a good fit for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge,” which aims to improve on the limitations of the 18th-century toilet still in use today, for 2.6 billion people lacking access to sanitation. According to the foundation, reinventing the toilet could save millions of lives and help end poverty. About 80 percent of human waste goes into rivers and streams untreated, and 1.1 billion people don’t use a toilet.

The winning solution must be hygienic and sustainable, with an operational cost of no more than five cents per user, per day. It may not discharge pollutants and must generate energy and recover salt, water and other nutrients. It may not rely on water to flush waste or a septic system to process and store waste.

The one-year Gates grant is first-phase funding. If the foundation likes what it sees, Paulee CleanTec will then submit a second proposal for a $1 million or $1.5 million grant to complete development and build a prototype.

In addition, Paulee CleanTec is considering opportunities for raising funds from private and strategic investors as it looks to widen its potential applications to hygienic solutions for trains, airplanes, boats, motor homes and other modes of transportation.

Source: Israel21c

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Japan Seeks Israeli Experts to Rehabilitate Fukushima

The Fukushima project is in need of Israeli CleanTech experts, especially in the field of recycling and water management.

The March 11, 2011 undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan was one of the five most powerful earthquakes in the world since modern record keeping began in 1900.The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5 meters (133 ft) and which travelled up to 10 km (6 mi) inland. The tsunami caused a number of nuclear accidents, primarily the ongoing meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex.

The Japanese company heading the rehabilitation efforts has sent a delegation to confer with Israeli experts and look for local entrepreneurs willing to take on the daunting task. 

Israeli companies that become part of the project will receive tax breaks to the amount of NIS 50 million (approximately $12.8 million).

Politics and cultural differences previously stood in the way of Israel developing closer relations with Japan. Japan imports 90 percent of its oil from Arab countries hostile to Israel. Also, Japanese culture, conservative, polite and centered on the value of tradition, is in many ways an opposite of the Israeli start-up, pioneer ethos. Independent, tenacious Israeli entrepreneurs generally prefer uncensored opinions and minimal ceremony. 

Source: YNetNews

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Israeli Teens Rescue Endangered Plant from Extinction

Rumex RothschildianusStudents at the Environmental Leadership class at Ha'kfar Hayarok High School in central Israel have been able to produce seeds for Rumex Rothschildianus, which is on Israel's endangered plants list.

Over the past few months, as part of a class science project, the students gathered a few dozen seeds of the rare plant, sprouted them in the school lab and eventually produced 100,000 seeds, effectively enabling the Rumex' re-plantation en masse.

The seeds were given to the Israel Nature and National Parks Authority (NNPA), which is now planning to plant them in its parks.

The high quantity of seeds produced has given the plant a new lease on life, and once its re-introduction to nature proves successful – which the NNPA is certain it will be – the Rumex will be safely on its way out of the endangered plants list.

The students' success has a global impact as well: Rumex Rothschildianus is indigenous to Israel and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Should the Rumex disappear from Israel's landscape, it will become extinct.

The project was part of the students' "seeds bank," created in collaboration with the NNPA and the Tel Aviv University Botanical Garden.

In view of the project's success, the Israel Nature and National Parks Authority has decided to enlist the students' help in the rescue attempts of other endangered plants. The next plant to be rescued from the threat of extinction will be the Yellow Lupin (Lupinus luteus).

Source: Ynetnews

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

UN Cites Israeli Wastewater Treatment Plant as Global Model

Out of just 30 from around the world chosen by the United Nations , the Dan Region Waste water treatment plant was selected to demonstrate the ability of local authorities to deal with environmental challenges.

The plant's unique method of treating sewage using natural filtration with sand earned it a spot on the coveted list. After routine purification in an ordinary facility, it then undergoes natural, underground filtration through sand, improving the quality of the water so that it can be used for irrigation.

Due to the higher concentration of people and pollution in urban areas, the UN has determined that it is important for local authorities to get organized and deal with local environmental issues without any dependance on federal funding.

Mekorot, Israel's national water company has recently begun to develop even more advanced methods of purifying sewage before it goes underground to be filtered through sand.

Read more about it here.

Looking forward to a day in the sand by the ocean tomorrow, till next time!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Israeli Companies to Clean Ganges

The Ganges River
The Indian government has been promoting a large scale endeavor to clean the Ganges River, which is considered holy in Hinduism. Current initiative is a replacement for The Ganga Action Plan that was launched in 1986 and failed despite heavy expenditure.

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, wrote, “The Ganges, above all, is the river of India which has held India's heart captive and drawn uncounted millions to her banks since the dawn of history. “ However, registered pollution levels render the Ganges water unsafe for agricultural use, let alone drinking and bathing. Due to the river's importance as a fresh water source as well as a ritual site, and considering that the river has become a major factor in spreading infection and disease, the Indian government treats this initiative very seriously.

Recently, the Indian government decided to invite leading Israeli water technology companies to take part in the efforts to clean the river. For this purpose, representatives of Indian research institutes, water technology companies and other relevant agencies will come to Israel to learn about the Israeli water and sewage purification technologies, and to examine ways to integrate them in the project.

The delegation will include representatives from the India Institute of Technology (IIT), an organization appointed by Indian government to advise and to formulate recommendations for the government regarding the technological solutions to be adopted for the cleaning endeavors.

The delegation will meet with several Israeli companies dealing with sewage purification, solid waste treatment, desalination and management of water resources, and visit their facilities. In addition, the delegation will meet with representatives of relevant government authorities such as the Israeli Water Authority.

Source: Ynetnews

Also see Wiki article on Pollution of the Ganges.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May 1, World Asthma Day

Child with nebulizer
May 1 marked the annual World Asthma Day. World Health Organization estimates that 300 million people currently suffer from asthma. I chose 3 Israeli inventions that help people with asthma and benefit the environment.

ProAir HFA Inhalation Aerosol
To replace inhalers containing ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) banned by FDA, Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals introduced the ProAir HFA Inhalation Aerosol — an environmentally friendly device for delivering inhaled asthma medication. Teva partnered with the American Lung Association to help some 20 million asthma patients transition to the new inhaler.

There is a clear connection between air quality and asthma, but monitoring air pollution has been an expensive proposition — until an Israeli company’s novel, low-cost device came along to provide real-time information on air quality anywhere. AirBase Systems developed small plug-and-play CanarIT sensor units (one for indoors, one for outdoors) based on the latest nanotechnology and using patented algorithms to identify pollution patterns and to rate the threat, wirelessly transmitting graphic reports to a computer or a handheld device. CanarIT also suggests simple, smart ways to reduce exposure to air pollution, such as closing windows on particularly smoggy days.

Ozone-Based Cleaning Systems
Studies have shown that swimming in chlorinated pools may trigger asthma and other respiratory problems from chlorimines, harmful chemicals formed by chlorine coming in contact with organic substances. Israeli company Greeneng Solutions manufactures ozone-based cleaning systems for water purification in restaurants, hotels and hospitals without chlorine or ammonia. Its new product called Ozopool would largely replace chlorine as a swimming pool disinfectant.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tel Aviv Switches Lights Off to Mark Earth Day

I Love Earth
Cities all over Israel will black out for one hour to celebrate "Earth Hour" marking the 42nd annual Earth Day. Lights will be off everywhere, leaving Tel Aviv's Rabin Square and Jerusalem's Old City in complete darkness to raise awareness about energy conservation.

In further celebration of Earthy Day, Israel will have a campaign to clean up the beaches and have performances for which electricity will be supplied by vegetable oil generators and human pedal power in the form of 48 bicyclists.

Read more about how other countries rang in Earth Day here.

Happy Earth Day, everyone, till next time!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Israel Passes US, Europe in Bottle Recycling

Israelis recycled 50 percent of the country’s plastic bottles in 2011, overtaking Europe and the United States, with figures of 48% and 29%, respectively, the ELA recycling company reported.

Israelis further recycled 20,000 tons of PET plastics in 2011, up from 16,000 tons in 2010. Israelis collected 77% of recyclable beverage containers in 2011, exceeding their goal of 73%.

The zeal for recycling is attributed to a massive public relations campaign that appears to have been a huge success. Just hope we in the US can soon catch up!

Read all about it here

Off to collect some plastic and glass of my own to recycle, till next time!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Illuminating the Dark Continent with solar power

Dark ContinentThe vast majority of solar-powered streetlights and similar fixtures on the market don't survive for long.  That's why Israeli startup Globe Light and Water System devised a sturdy, solar-powered light fixture that needs no infrastructure.

This could prove a godsend to developing nations where a lack of street lighting results in dangerous driving conditions and far slower economies.

In Africa, the heat, humidity, mud and dust are given factors that have to be taken into consideration. In many places there's no electricity infrastructure, so the fixtures have to stand alone. The other major issue that has to be dealt with is criminality. Vandalism and theft of public property is widespread.

Chinese companies have been making similar light fixtures for several years now, but almost all of them involve inferior technologies. They are inefficient, have shorter life spans and break down far too regularly.

The GLWS Orion light fixture offers some fundamental design improvements on existing systems. A major innovation is the built-in microprocessor that constantly monitors and regulates factors such as bulb temperature and battery charge.  A particularly high-quality type of LED [light-emitting diode] lamp used in the GLWS Orion lights  can work in extreme conditions and does not burn out as easily as the ones used by competitors's products. The junction temperature of our LED is 60 degrees Celsius. The microprocessor automatically dims the light if it approaches this temperature. Another advantage is a lower electricity consumption by an average of 60 percent. This translates into negating the need for complete power stations.

As important as its technical aspects, is the fact that the fixture is theft-proof. The light poles are designed in a way that no one can steal the batteries from inside. There's also the option of adding a CCTV camera to the pole so that anyone trying to vandalize it will be seen from the central control facility.

This facility, usually operated by a municipality or local government, can monitor the performance of all the installed light fixtures.

The fixtures can be monitored remotely, and  the lights can be dimmed or raised using radio frequencies. This means easier upkeep, lower energy consumption and longer working lives

GLWS is developing lighting systems for Nigeria, Ethiopia and Colombia, with several other countries in the negotiation process.

Source: Israel21c

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bike your way through Tel Aviv!

Bike Parking Sign
Just 14 years ago, there were no bike paths in Tel Aviv, it was a metropolis for drivers only. Now, Tel Aviv is covered in bike paths with plans to build more to accommodate the surge in riders.

The city of Tel Aviv will be spending NIS 150 million in the next five years to accommodate the rise in bike riders, which upon completion is expected to create a total of approximately 150 kilometers of bike paths and trails in Tel Aviv as more and more residents are switching from cars to bicycles.

Tel Aviv's narrow roadways make it difficult for cars and bikes to share the road so one of the aims of the new bike path expansion is to create bike paths on street level that are separated from vehicle traffic.

Read more about it here.

Off to an early night so I can enjoy a bike ride in the morning, till next time!