Category Archives: Did You Know?

Sustainable Fisheries

Hey peeps, I bring to you another experience from a field trip that I had the last weekend with some of my classmates, a trip to Sotenäs Industrial Symbiosis Network (northern Gothenburg – west coast).  The aim of this trip was to see and understand how the community of little less than 10,000 people has managed to achieve high levels of sustainability in different sectors… for purpose of awesomeness and innovation, I’ll be focusing the post one of the fisheries that we visited.

But why fishing is a concern for not only environmentalist, but for you reader who loves eating fresh nordic salmon or you who enjoys a delicious fish ceviche… well, overfishing (capturing more adult fishes than the ones needed to replenish the population)  is a very real situation all around the world, where more than 70 % of Earth’s fish stocks suffer from OVEREXPLOITATION. One of the main reasons is called by-catch, which means that fishermen use unsustainable gears that capture different aquatic species than only fish; species, that are not the ones meant to fish such as turtles, sharks, seabirds, youngfish, corals, etc.  But wait a minute, not everything is lost! Look at the image below…

What you are seeing is a sustainable gear used in a fishery in Sotenäs! Why is this technology sustainable? Well, now you have to strongly use your imagination haha…. Desired fish (for example large cods) enter through an open space in the bottom-right part of the image. Then, they are trapped in the second compartment (the one behind the yellow part) thanks to the large space on top this yellow part. Of course, there are other smaller fishes entering the net with other marine creatures as the ones named above; nevertheless, the net is designed in a way (sorry for the bad quality of the picture) where the different diameter holes make it easier for smaller species (or not desired ones) to scape the net and stay in the ocean.

Well, in conclusion what they are doing there is awesome! They created this net for it to only catch the fishes they needed, but in a way of not killing other species while letting the small ones to grow naturally and restore the balance to the system. Moreover, they told us that at least in the EU zone, there are strong laws on fishing practices,

  • They can’t discard unwanted fish (another problem that affects ecosystems as they throw away dead overfished creatures that pollute the ecosystem),
  • Each region has a maximum amount on weight for fishing, in a way to preserve the ecosystem… they better use sustainable practices to maximize their catch don’t you think?

Remember that you should eat sustainably as well and  about the practices behind the dish your are about to eat. Let’s just stay with the fact that over 3 billion people depend on seafood, so let’s invest in sustainable practices!

Surfing Energy

Hey peeps, have you ever thought about obtaining energy from waves? Yes! Waves! Well, KTH researchers are already testing technology that could mean new resources for renewable energy.

Inspired by the mechanics of the human heart, a new type of wave energy conversion system developed in Sweden is now bobbing in the waves off Orkney, Scotland.

Watch this video for a better explanation of what is happening with this new technology…

Want to know why investing and developing this type of energy could contribute to sustainable development ? Even though the energy from waves is not homogeneous and is distributed around the glove, it is estimated by World Energy Organization a potential of 32 PWh/y … 1 Petawatt Hour is equal to 1,000,000,000 Megawatt Hour… yeah, it’s a LOT!

Let’s just remember that energy transition is a challenge worldwide, we as society must understand that the use of fossil fuels has driven us into environmental conditions adverse for our prosperity. There’s been different estimations on how long it takes for CO2 emissions to reach their maximum warming potential (greenhouse effect), but late studies estimate that it is likely closer to 10 years. In other words this means, that we will see in 10 years the effects on the environment of the current concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Ok, the meme is funny haha but not environmental destruction :/ haha so stay committed to having the lowest environmental footprint, peeps!

Autonomous Cars

What about autonomous cars? Pretty sure that if you are into artificial intelligence, you will this post. But what could this breakthrough could actually mean for sustainability?

Efficiency. This is key to achieve sustainability in my own point of view. People need to be efficient in the use of resources and how they manage them; whether it is money or natural resources, efficiency plays a key role here. Driverless cars could not only make more efficient transportation, for example, the Swedish Environmental Agency estimates that around 30% of the national greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions come from this sector, but they could also mean a solution for traffic jams, lower car accidents, and an efficient use of fuels through different algorithms.

What does KTH have to do with this? Well, it’s been almost 2 months since the Swedish Transportation Agency launched to the streets the first two driverless bus here in Stockholm. How did this happen? Well, these busses going between Kista mall and Victoria Tower are the result of a six-month project collaboration from Nobina (bus company) together with Ericsson, SJ, KTH, Klövern, Urban ICT Arena and Stockholm City.

I don’t know about you Stockholmers, but I’m really curious that I may plan a quick trip to travel with them before the trial period ends. Definitely this type of technology is still under probation for major improvements, but I’m pretty confident that this will reduce (maybe a lot) the environmental footprint of the transportation sector worldwide. Would you like to see this in your city? Don’t forget to subscribe and to leave comments! 😀

Let it Burn

Hey peeps, sorry for the delay on my posts but it’s been a crazy week with deadlines 😀 (nervous laugh) nevertheless, you got me here! As you can read from the title, this post will be about fire… fire used in incineration plants, where companies burn trash in order to produce electricity and heating (pretty useful in the case of cold countries like Sweden). Last week with the course on Waste Management that I’m taking at KTH, we had a field trip to Vattenfall’s incineration plant in Uppsala… cool selfie of my German friend Ben and me…

At this incineration plant Vattenfall produces electricity and more than 90% from all the heating needed in Uppsala, 4th largest city in Sweden. The electricity comes from burning the trash that will help boil water (by a heat exchanger), water will boil and steam will be produced; this steam will be used as the fuel to move a turbine that will produce electricity. Heat is also produced in a high efficient combustion and helps keeping the houses in the surrounding warm. Unfortunately it was forbidden to take pictures inside the plant, but trust me it was amazing watching through a thick glass the combustion chamber. It was like a huge pile of garbage on fire haha (literally like a 4 floors high fire flame) and the inside temperature was about 850ºC.

Sweden’s electricity comes roughly 50 % from burning trash… good right? No fossil oil, gasoline or diesel burned, right? Well… NO! The process is efficient, YES, but it’s not as good or as “green” as you may think! Why? Let’s think about what a common bag or garbage may contain…

  • Some organic waste when it’s not properly separated (food, wood, etc)
  • Some metals (cans for example)
  • Some carton from packaging
  • Some crystal…

…but the most important content in our garbage…

  • PLASTIC! Large amount of plastic packaging and most of the times the bag itself!

Let’s remember that there is not such a thing as the “avg. garbage bag”, but it estimated between 20-50% of plastic content in household waste!!!  If you are still struggling connecting the dots, plastic comes from FOSSIL FUELS! So literally burning garbage is burning fossil fuels (in less amounts and controlled way of course).

In conclusion, an incineration plant helps get rid of the waste in an “efficient” way where companies can recover energy from the process to obtain heating and electricity. Does incineration is the best way to help the planet, NO! The best way according to the waste hierarchy is to

  1. REDUCE CONSUMPTION (let’s stop buying things that we don’t need),
  2. REUSING (come on, give it a second opportunity if possible),
  3. RECYCLING (let’s sort our residues properly :D),
  4. ENERGY RECOVERY (Ok… now let ’em burn!),
  5. LANDFILL (The least preferred 🙁 nothing else can be done with the residues so they have to be buried)

Hope you liked the topic! Don’t forget to subscribe, share and comment 😀 all the feedback makes this blog better for you guys!

Look at that Butt

Do you smoke? Do you know someone who smokes? There’s a topic that’s been in mind for a couple of weeks that you may find quite interesting. Let’s be clear, this post WILL NOT try to persuade you to quit smoking, but WILL BE about the residues that around 75% of smokers toss on the streets…
Cigarette Butts!

Sweden has the lowest rate when it comes to people who actually smoke cigarette, it’s is only 5% of the population. The reason of that, is that the Swedish Government allow people to buy a thing called “snus” (moist powdered tobacco) that comes in a tinny bag and people put it in their mouths somewhere between the gums and the lips. Still, some people of that 5% manage to toss out the c-butt on the streets.

So as I said it before, I’m not here to make you change your mind about smoking, but at least put the butt in the garbage! Remember that wildlife like birds could eat this residue full of chemicals, but…

The chemicals found in one cigarette butt can leach out and contaminate approximately 7.5 liters of water within one hour.

STOP POLLUTING WATER!

Want to know more about recycling C-butts? Look at this amazing video from National Geographic about this residue and how it could be recycled 😀 Don’t forget to comment and subscribe!