College students launch project to reduce food waste and feed hungry families

Many can still vividly recall images of crops rotting in the field and milk being dumped when schools and restaurants were forced to close in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Some college students want to make sure we never see that again.

Vernie Jackson was not in line at a food pantry last Thanksgiving — but he’s since fallen on hard times. 

“I lost people in the pandemic, and then I lost my job in the pandemic,” Jackson said. “So right now, you know, I’m just praying to the Lord.”

Jack Rehnborg is a junior at Stanford University. He is among a group of college students who co-founded the FarmLink Project after being stunned by images of produce rotting on farms during the pandemic.

“This is absurd for the wealthiest country in the world to have all this food going to waste and all these people that are hungry,” he told CBS News. “It’s a problem that about 20 billion pounds of food is wasted.”

The FarmLink Project collects food from the fields and delivers it to pantries running on empty. 

“So it’s been big and huge, and we’re really thankful for them,” event coordinator Kenneth Marshall said.

They’ve served more than 18 million meals since the spring, and this Thanksgiving week they’re handing out one million meals across the country.

“We’re gonna try and keep doing deliveries across the country, you know, keep food moving,” Rehnborg said.

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Waste fishing gear threatens Ganges wildlife

Waste fishing gear threatens Ganges wildlife
Fishing on the Ganges. Credit: Heather Koldewey

Waste fishing gear in the River Ganges poses a threat to wildlife including otters, turtles and dolphins, new research shows.

The study says entanglement in fishing gear could harm species including the critically endangered three-striped roofed turtle and the endangered Ganges river dolphin.

Surveys along the length of the river, from the mouth in Bangladesh to the Himalayas in India, show levels of waste fishing gear are highest near to the sea.

Fishing nets—all made of plastic—were the most common type of gear found.

Interviews with local fishers revealed high rates of fishing equipment being discarded in the river—driven by short gear lifespans and lack of appropriate disposal systems.

The study, led by researchers from the University of Exeter, with an international team including researchers from India and Bangladesh, was conducted as part of the National Geographic Society’s “Sea to Source: Ganges” expedition.

“The Ganges River supports some of the world’s largest inland fisheries, but no research has been done to assess plastic pollution from this industry, and its impacts on wildlife,” said Dr. Sarah Nelms, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

Waste fishing gear threatens Ganges wildlife
Fishing on the Ganges. Credit: Heather Koldewey

“Ingesting plastic can harm wildlife, but our threat assessment focussed on entanglement, which is known to injure and kill a wide range of marine species.”

The researchers used a list of 21 river species of “conservation concern” identified by the Wildlife Institute for India.

They combined existing information on entanglements of similar species worldwide with the new data on levels of waste fishing gear in the Ganges to estimate which species are most at risk.

Speaking about the why so much fishing gear was found in the river, Dr. Nelms said: “There is no system for fishers to recycle their nets.

“Most fishers told us they mend and repurpose nets if they can, but if they can’t do that the nets are often discarded in the river.

“Many held the view that the river ‘cleans it away’, so one useful step would be to raise awareness of the real environmental impacts.”

Waste fishing gear threatens Ganges wildlife
Fishing on the Ganges. Credit: Heather Koldewey

National Geographic Fellow and science co-lead of the expedition Professor Heather Koldewey, of ZSL (the Zoological Society of London) and the University of Exeter, said the study’s findings offer hope for solutions based on “circular economy”—where waste is dramatically reduced by reusing materials.

“A high proportion of the fishing gear we found was made of nylon 6, which is valuable and can be used to make products including carpets and clothing,” she said.

“Collection and recycling of nylon 6 has strong potential as a solution because it would cut plastic pollution and provide an income.

“We demonstrated this through the Net-Works project in the Philippines, which has been so successful it has become a standalone social enterprise called COAST-4C.”

Professor Koldewey added: “This is a complex problem that will require multiple solutions—all of which must work for both local

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New England Patriots waste Damiere Byrd’s career game in loss to Texans

If the Patriots had finished their fourth-quarter drive and completed the comeback for a badly needed victory, Damiere Byrd would have spent Thanksgiving week as the toast of a suddenly surging Patriots team.

Instead, the 27-year-old receiver’s career day will likely be a forgotten footnote in a backbreaking 27-20 loss. With Julian Edelman still out and N’Keal Harry continuing his slow fade into oblivion, the Texans focused their defense on stopping Jakobi Meyers, who they held to three catches for 38 yards.

That left Byrd in position to see more balls thrown his way and he took advantage. Byrd, who played with Cam Newton in Carolina, rekindled some old chemistry. He had six catches for 132 yards and a 42-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.

“I always think every game is a day for me. Whatever happens, you never know what game you’ll get called up to be that impact on the offense. Today was my lucky day. Cam trusted me and we were able to make a few plays,” Byrd said. “I’m proving to myself that I can be consistent that I can continue to improve gam- in and game-out. It’s a long season as well all know. My goal is to continue to get better as the season progresses and to play my best football in November and December and continue to find ways to help our team win games and score touchdowns.”

Newton wasn’t surprised.

“Damiere was just doing exactly what he’s been doing all year in practice. For it to show up, is exactly what coach has been talking about. Practice preparation and execution turns into in-game reality,” Newton said. “Damiere has been doing a great job on those routes. It just showed what he’s capable of doing today.”

On the touchdown, despite being screened by a bigger defender, Byrd had to track the ball and catch it in stride.

“Cam made a great read, a great throw,” Byrd said. “I just tried to shield off the defender and try to make a good over the shoulder catch.”

Byrd said having good numbers didn’t create any joy in the midst of a bad loss.

“There’s not really a balance. We lost the game. That’s what I’m out there to play for – to win,” he said. “If I had zero catches or 15, that’s a bad game for me.”

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Scientists Discover An Environmentally Friendly Way To Turn Waste Into Products

Researchers at National University of Singapore have figured out a way to use food waste to derive a drug to treat Parkinson’s disease and amino acid essential for collagen production. It is no secret that food waste is in abundance in our world, in the US alone there is 80 billion pounds of food waste each year. Although food waste may seem harmless, it has grave consequences for the environment, with global food waste contributing to 6% of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to that, it has economic implications as the food waste equates, in 2010 the loss due to waste and food loss was $162 billion. But what if we can reverse this and turn waste in products we need?

This is pricelessly what researchers at National University of Singapore did over the course of four years, which is the time it took them to develop a unique and a multidisciplinary method which allowed them to extract precious products from waste. To do so, the researchers took advantage of the fundamentally differing roles of chemistry and biology in synthesis process. “Chemical processes are rapid …but they can only produce simple substances. On the other hand, biological processes are a lot slower, and require very specific conditions for the microbes to flourish but can produce complex substances which tend to be of higher value. By combining both chemical and biological processes, we can reap the benefits of both to create high value materials,” explains Zhou Kang from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the principal investigator of the study. This ingenious method of using complementary yet differing ways of extracting materials allowed researchers to extract a widely used drug for Parkinson’s from crustacean shell waste at a fraction of the cost.

The yield of this method was similar to the traditional way of extracting this drug, however, it was much more economically viable, as the cost of crustacean shell waste in Singapore is $100, which is about 4 to 6 times less expensive than the traditional ingredient. In addition to that, the team of researchers also used wood waste to produce Proline, a widely used amino acid important in collage production. Thus through understanding and leveraging subtle differences chemistry and biology, the researchers were able to produce Proline at a higher yield, as well as reduce the cost of production. The researchers hope to generalize this method to other forms of abundant waste, such as carbon dioxide and wastepaper, which allow our society to move away from using costly processes and while taking better care of our planet by turning waste into high valued product.

The the generalization of these methods may allow the industry to shift gears into more economically friendly ways of producing life saving drugs. Thus, the team behind this method hopes to expand and scale their work by partnering with industry leaders to commercialize

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Chemists develop new material for the separation of carbon dioxide from industrial waste gases

Chemists develop new material for the separation of CO₂ from industrial waste gases
Electron microscopic cross-sectional image of the new hybrid material. It was possible to produce the glass platelets very precisely and, interrupted by spacers, to layer them on top of each other. Credit: Martin Rieß

Chemists at the University of Bayreuth have developed a material that could well make an important contribution to climate protection and sustainable industrial production. With this material, the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO₂) can be specifically separated from industrial waste gases, natural gas, or biogas, and thereby made available for recycling. The separation process is both energy efficient and cost-effective. In the journal Cell Reports Physical Science the researchers present the structure and function of the material.

The Green Deal presented by the European Commission in 2019 calls for the net emissions of greenhouse gases within the EU to be reduced to zero by 2050. This requires innovative processes that can separate and retain CO2from waste gases and other gas mixtures so that it is not released into the atmosphere. The material developed in Bayreuth has one fundamental advantage over previous separation processes: It is capable of completely removing CO2from gas mixtures without chemically binding CO2.

These gas mixtures can be waste gases from industrial plants, but also natural gas or biogas. In all these cases, CO2accumulates in the cavities of the material solely due to physical interaction. From there, it can be released without great expenditure of energy, to be made available again as a resource for industrial production. Hence, the separation process works, chemically speaking, according to the principle of physical adsorption. Like a spacious storage tank, the new material can be filled with and emptied of carbon dioxide in an energy-efficient way. In Bayreuth laboratories, it was designed in such a way as to only separate out CO2and no other gas from the most varied gas mixtures.

“Our research team has succeeded in designing a material that fulfils two tasks at the same time. On the one hand, the physical interactions with CO2are strong enough to free and retain this greenhouse gas from a gas mixture. On the other hand, however, they are weak enough to allow the release of CO2from the material with only a small amount of energy,” says Martin Rieß M.Sc., first author of the new publication and doctoral researcher at the Inorganic Chemistry I research group at the University of Bayreuth.

The new material is an inorganic-organic hybrid. The chemical basis is clay minerals consisting of hundreds of individual glass platelets. These are only one nanometre thick each, and arranged precisely one above the other. Between the individual glass plates there are organic molecules that act as spacers. Their shape and chemical properties have been selected so that the pore spaces created are optimally tailored to accumulate CO2. Only carbon dioxide molecules can penetrate into the pore system of the material and be retained there. In contrast, methane, nitrogen, and other exhaust gas

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New Reactor Design Eats Up Nuclear Waste

abstract concept of reactor

Maksim TkachenkoGetty Images

  • An industry veteran is touting a new molten salt reactor as the next big nuclear thing.
  • Thermal molten salt has some growing pains, but Elysium says it has circumvented these.
  • Elysium’s first plant would be a 10 MWe demonstration plant to supply a small town.

    A new molten salt reactor design can scale from just 50 Megawatts electric (MWe) to 1,200 MWe, its creators say, while burning up nuclear waste in the process.

    ☢️ You like nuclear. So do we. Let’s nerd out over nuclear together.

    Energy Daily founder Llewellyn King suggests the large reactor represents a move of public sentiment after public obstacles have continued to push the timeline on popular tiny reactor startup NuScale.

    King explains the way light-water reactors—the majority of nuclear plants in the world and all the nuclear plants in the U.S. today—grew to dominate nuclear energy development the way internal combustion engines eclipsed and then crushed the original electric cars over 100 years ago.

    That means that while scientists first developed molten salt reactors decades ago, they’ve never had the opportunity, King says, to gain public favor. The combination of factors is redolent of politics and human whims, seen over and over when major technology is introduced.

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    Startup Elysium Technologies is behind the new molten salt design, and it scales from tiny to huge, partly because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will require a very small reactor plant as an exemplar and pilot project. Elysium is far from the only molten salt reactor in the game—a 2019 NRC presentation lists Elysium and seven others in the molten salt column of an advanced reactor table.

    Where the vogue crop of tiny reactors tout their safety as a major selling point, molten salt reactor concepts also require less safety infrastructure. They’re mostly at ambient pressure instead of the high pressure that has escalated containment structures at traditional light-water nuclear plants.

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    Elysium’s reactor is also a fast reactor. “[B]ecause it will be a fast reactor with a molten fuel, it will be able to use nuclear waste as a fuel and burn it up over time. A fast reactor has an unslowed neutron flux and needs no moderator, like the water in light water reactors,” King explains. This is key to the technology, but has also caused problems in other molten salt designs—the bombardment of fast neutrons must be robustly shielded against.

    molten salt reactor design

    Elysium Technologies USA

    Elysium’s design also uses

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    Copper Firm Told to Halt Work After Zambia Waste Spill

    (Bloomberg) —

    a light that is on fire: copper

    © Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg

    Zambia’s environmental authority halted operations at a copper-processing plant after a waste dam at the facility burst, flooding a stream that flows into a major river and destroying crops and fish.

    The plant operators, Rongxin Investments Ltd., were also instructed to clean up the affected area and submit a restoration report, the Zambia Environmental Management Agency said in an emailed statement Friday.

    The spillage occurred on Thursday after an embankment at the dam collapsed, “discharging huge volumes of tailings into the Luela Stream,” ZEMA said. The stream flows into the Kafue River, the biggest tributary of the the country’s main river, the Zambezi.

    a light that is on fire

    © Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg

    “ZEMA is working with other government agencies and departments to ensure that further regulatory action is taken,” the agency said.

    More than 200 meters of land along the stream was polluted and crops belonging to several small-scale farmers buried in the waste when the stream burst its banks, it said.

    (Corrects name of regulator in second paragraph)

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