Woody Harrelson Is Turning Waste Into Paper

Posted by Lee Drever on Dec 6, 2013 11:52:00 AM

Woody Harrelson
Woody Harrelson is a co-counder of a company producing high quality paper from left over wheat straw.

With the proliferation of e-readers, tablets and smartphones it certainly feels like the world is printing less but are we? 

The paper industry will tell you that, despite downward trends in certain categories, the global consumption of paper products is actually rising. Whether it is growing or not, our global appetite for paper products is still massive with over 400 million metric tonnes (3 billion trees worth) of paper consumed annually.

The numbers are staggering and with 1.6 billion people around the planet depending directly on natural rainforests food, clothing and shelter, can we continue to cut down 3 billion trees per year for paper?

Actor and activist, Woody Harrelson is the co-founder of a company that hopes to reduce this impact on the planet by producing high quality paper from straw left over from the production of wheat. Step Forward Paper, made with 80 per cent wheat straw, is the first paper of its kind to hit shelves in North America. 

Two boxes saves one tree:

“Almost half the world’s forests have been cut for paper products,” said Harrelson, “Step Forward Paper is great for our forests, our farmers and our future.”

Harrelson is partners with entrepreneur, Jeff Golfman and former Manitoba finance minister, Clayton Manness in this project that after 15 years of research and development was made available through Staples stores (and online) across Canada and the United States last summer. 

Step Forward Paper buys wheat waste from farmers after it is harvested for food, providing the farmers with an extra diversified income. 

The paper is currently made in India from straw sourced nearby but the long-term goal for the team is to build a "state-of-the-art, off-the-grid, eco pulp and paper mill" in North America.

Step Forward Paper is an 8.5" X 11", 80% tree-free paper sheet made from wheat straw waste and bleached using an Elemental Chlorine-Free sequence (ECF). The paper is FSC certified by the Rainforest Alliance. It 
is currently available in North America exclusively from Staples.

DISCLOSURE: Octaform President, David Richardson is a member of the board of directors for Prairie Paper, manufacturers of Step Forward Paper.

Topics: Agriculture, Sustainability

Greenbuild Comes To Europe

Posted by Lee Drever on Nov 28, 2013 1:05:00 PM


(Washington, D.C.) – The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced last week that Greenbuild for Europe and the Mediterranean region will launch in Verona, Italy in 2014.

“Greenbuild for Europe and the Mediterranean region is part of the global expansion of the successful Greenbuild Conference & Expo brand,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S.Green Building Council. “USGBC and Hanley Wood entered into a strategic partnership earlier this year with plans to expand the conference and the Greenbuild brand. This new experience will serve as a platform for green building knowledge and shared expertise across continents, while scaling the breadth and reach of global market transformation.”

Other Greenbuild Firsts

1st Greenbuild to be hosted outside of the U.S. was Toronto in 2011; 

1st West Coast Greenbuild was Phoenix in 2009;

1st Residential Summit was held in Chicago in 2007;

1st Green Jobs Fair was held in Phoenix in 2009;

1st show was held in Austin, Tex. in 2002 and hosted 4,189 attendees.

Greenbuild is the largest event dedicated to green building education and features extensive educational programming, a vast expo hall, top notch inspirational speakers and the best in-person networking opportunities an event has to offer.

Greenbuild 2013 marks the 12th anniversary of Greenbuild, and the 20th anniversary of USGBC. Greenbuild for the U.S. will be held in November 2014 in New Orleans, in addition to Greenbuild for Europe and the Mediterranean region in Verona, Italy.

"Greenbuild for Europe and the Mediterranean region will be all about green building,” said Rick McConnell, President, Hanley Wood Exhibitions. “Combining the resources of GBC Italia, USGBC, Veronafiere and Hanley Wood to deliver cutting edge education, the conference will feature top speakers in sustainability and combine the live event experience of Veronafiere and Hanley Wood. This indeed is going to be a game changer."

“Green building is not new to Europe and the Mediterranean region. With its rich history in architecture and building design, this area of the world is naturally focused on sustainable buildings,” said Mario Zoccatelli, President of GBC Italia. “LEED, as a global system, provides unique opportunities for us to advance green building in a completely new way. Greenbuild will serve as a mechanism to promote LEED and other green building tools across the continent. We are excited about creating the Greenbuild conference in the European and Mediterranean region.”

“We are honored to have been chosen as host for Greenbuild for Europe and the Mediterranean region,” said Veronafiere’s CEO Giovanni Mantovani. “For over a century, we have been organizing trade shows here in Verona, Italy, and are now considered a leader within the European trade show sector. Veronafiere has a close, longstanding partnership with Hanley Wood and is a member of the Italian GBC. We have recently added Smart Energy Expo, a show focusing on energy efficiency and the white-green economy to our long established fairs in the construction sector, Marmomacc and Samoter. Verona is a beautiful city, with a rich history and culinary tradition, well-connected by air, rail, and highway. We look forward to hosting Greenbuild in 2014.”

Topics: Sustainability, Concrete, Construction

Cleveland Browns Going Green With Biogas

Posted by Lee Drever on Nov 22, 2013 4:21:00 PM

Stadium Turning Food Waste Into Biogas

The NFL Franchise will be the first in the country to divert food waste to an Anaerobic Digestion facility, turning the scraps into energy and fertilizer.

This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns and FirstEnergy Stadium will showcase a new system that aims to recycle stadium food waste into renewable energy and fertilizer sources. The effort is expected to annually divert 35 tons of food waste from landfills to facilities producing sustainable, natural resources for Cleveland residents.

"Creative solutions to food waste provide communities with renewable energy opportunities and environmental benefits through reduced greenhouse gas emissions." said Secretary Vilsack. "We must better educate folks about the problem of food waste and utilize partnerships like the one in Cleveland to begin to address the issue of food waste nationwide."

The program is
expected to:

Divert 35 tons of food waste from landfills every season

Reduce CO2 emissions by 28,000 pound per year

Generate enough electricity to power a single-family home for a year and a half

Produce enough natural gas to heat 32 homes for an entire month

Recover enough nutrients for 3 football fields of new crops

This initiative is part of the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, a joint USDA and EPA effort, calling on others across the food chain—including producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities, and other government agencies − to join the effort to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste. 

The Browns are the first professional franchise to implement this kind of system in their home stadium. Using the Grind2Energy™ system from InSinkErator, food scraps are collected and ground into a slurry, which is transported to an anaerobic digester operated by quasar energy group at The Ohio State University's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).

At the anaerobic digester, which periodically adds dairy cow manure to lower acidity and boost the methane, quasar produces biogas for energy and fuel uses in addition to vital nutrients and fertilizer that can be reused for farming.

"Digester systems are something this country's dairy farms have used for years," said Tom Gallagher, CEO of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. "But we have just begun to tap what is possible. Through new partnerships – whether it's with a stadium, or a hospital or a chain of supermarkets – dairy farms in all 50 states are able to house this type of system and turn food waste into food value for local communities. This proposition is just one of the goals that the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is setting for the immediate future."

"Cities and local communities really identify with their professional teams, so when we see franchises make these partnerships and these commitments, we think there's a potential multiplier effect for every fan that's going to walk through those turnstiles," said Allen Hershkowitz, Ph.D., the director of the Sports Greening Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "We think there's just an incredible amount of potential for sports teams and venues across the country to really act as leaders when it comes to changing the national conversation around food waste."

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Topics: Sustainability, Biogas, Waste

8 Photos From A State-Of-The-Art Egg Production Facility

Posted by Lee Drever on Oct 25, 2013 2:24:00 PM

We dropped by Paragon Farms this week to check out the progress they've made on their newly rennovated poultry operation. They lined the walls and ceiling of their egg production facility with our Quick Liner wall & ceiling panels

Here are some photos:

Egg Production Facility

Quick Liner wall & ceiling panels fasten to your structure and instantly transform dark and dingy walls into a clean and bright environment that is resistant to corrosion, fade and dirt.

Egg Production Facility

Extruded from food-grade PVC, Quick Liner can be used in food processing facilities, clean rooms and anywhere that biosecurity is important.

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PVC is easy to clean and will not support the growth of mold so you can stop being concerned about the health of your walls and think only about the health of your livestock.

Wall Liner In Cold Storage

Quick Liner meets all FDA requirements for food safety and is listed as an approved construction material by the CFIA.

Egg Production Facility

Paragon lined their halls and offices with Quick Liner as well. The panels are easy to clean but also help to create a bright and welcoming work environment.

Egg Production Facility

The egg conveyer and sorting system mounted easily through the PVC panels.

Egg Production Facility

The crew also utilized the full array of Quick Liner trim components. These finishing pieces look great but more importantly, they ensure that there are no corners for moisture or contaminants to accumulate in.

Egg Production Facility
Quick Liner comes in a time-saving 18" width and is stocked and ready to ship from locations across North America.

To get a quote, click here:


Topics: Agriculture, Wall & Ceiling Panel, Food Processing, Quick Liner, Poultry, Egg Production

Making an 'Impact' with Bioenergy

Posted by Lee Drever on Oct 4, 2013 9:49:00 AM

Impact Bioenergy AD Facility
 Facility rendering of an Impact Bioenergy anaerobic digestion system.

Industry Profile: 
JAN ALLEN, Impact Bioenergy  

Jan Allen, Impact Bioenergy

Jan Allen has been involved in design, construction, and operation of organics facilities since 1989, at Cedar Grove Composting, CH2M HILL, Concept Kinetics, and Harvest Power.

Jan is president of IMPACT BIOENERGY. Formed this year, they intend to empower communities with the best bio-conversion technologies and services available to recycle organic materials into renewable energy and soil products.

He sat down with Octaform this week to talk anaerobic digestion and some of the hurdles it faces in North America.


How did you get into biogas?

My first experience was at Purdue University – we were allowed to do an undergraduate thesis – I chose methane potential via pig waste biogas. My second experience was designing mechanical piping for wastewater digesters. The concept has always been at the forefront of my engineering ideas but it has not always been economically feasible.

The economics have shifted into a much more favorable position. This is partly due to rising costs for alternatives like long distance disposal or recycling at distant composting facilities. It is also partly due to more domestic technology choices that don’t have to be imported from Europe.


A growing number of organizations and cities are aiming for zero waste as a goal. How does anaerobic digestion help accomplish this?

Anaerobic digestion is ideally suited to wet, high-calorie food wastes. These are precisely the same feedstocks that cause operational challenges for composting operations – too much water, not enough pore space, and too much oxygen demand at the beginning of the process. So for multifamily organics and commercial organics especially anaerobic digestion can extract energy and reduce the odour potential of the remaining digestate that goes to composting. College campuses are a great case study in both zero waste and self-generation of energy.

Many campuses and communities have taken the bolder step to both move past 50% diversion and to develop micro-grid power stations on-campus. Even if recycling goals are achieved they don’t account for the environmental impact of exporting waste. Today there are opportunities to avoid the fuel use for hauling and offsite disposal of these materials by creating energy locally from waste streams that would otherwise be wasted.

Converting organic materials into energy and soil on-campus is not only possible, it is more cost-effective and sustainable. With much of the district power and heating infrastructure built into their initial construction, college campuses across North America are moving to micro grid power systems. 

For example UC San Diego's 42-megawatt micro grid has a master controller and optimization system and uses different generator sources - photovoltaic solar panels, fuel cells, and natural gas generators - that enable it to cover more than 90 percent of the power requirement at the 1,200-acre campus. The micro grid saves the university some $800,000 a month in energy costs.

Biogas E-Book

 Free Download 

Compared to Europe, North America has been slow to adopt biogas as a means of energy generation. What factors are holding back growth in North America?

In North America we generally operate on a market-driven system where lowest cost is overwhelmingly the decision criteria. In Europe the decision criteria was more about EU directives to reduce landfilling and produce renewable energy. These were policies adopted by counties and the European Union.

Renewable energy is tariff-driven in Europe where biomethane power is worth three times as much per kWh ($0.20/kWh in EU vs. $0.07/kWh in US). There are a number of variations on this concept including low-technology need for cooking and lighting fuel - used mainly Asia, India, and Africa; and environmental-control used mainly in North America for wastewater facilities.

The good news is that the supply chain and design/build industry for biogas is starting to grow in North America. That will drive down capital cost. We are still struggling with weak central policy and low energy tariffs but those may be the next barriers to address.


What areas of North America do you foresee growing in AD?

Those areas where there are high waste disposal costs or high electricity prices.


Over the last decade, Cow Power programs in Vermont and BC have attempted to help biogas become economically feasible. Do you believe that AD in North America can be feasible without subsidies or programs?

Yes if the current economics show high waste disposal costs or high electricity prices. It is really site-specific so each project has a unique economic situation. We created two self-evaluation models to help customers evaluate their specific economics (see here). In these tools there is a ‘project specifics’ tab to help collect the data to make a wise decision.


What services does Impact Bioenergy provide? How is Impact Bioenergy different from other firms involved in biogas?

IMPACT BIOENERGY was launched in Seattle in July 2013. We have created a unique business model focused on selling small-scale organic waste energy waste solutions to communities of 5,000 to 50,000 people for the production of renewable energy and valuable, carbon-rich by-products. Our products are pre-fabricated, modular, quickly deployed, and here in Pacific Northwest.

The centerpiece of our game-changing business model is the IMPACT BIOENERGY TECHNOLOGY SUITE: three separate but complementary organics recycling technology modules designed to operate independently or together. 


• Biomethane production via anaerobic digestion (AD)
• Soil and heat production via composting
• Charcoal, biochar, syngas, and heat production via gasification

The trends and convergence of the global issues we can address underscores the relevancy and timeliness of this offering. Every day, each resident in campus and urban area sends two pounds of valuable organic material to disposal.

IMPACT BIOENERGY is different than other technology providers because it focuses on small scale, standardized, simple, pre-fabricated assemblies to drive down the capital cost of renewable energy systems. Delivery and installation can be accomplished in about 6 months vs. typical concept-to-startup development cycles that require 2-4 years in the industry today. Operating costs are low with near zero inputs of chemicals and consumable materials.

The ultimate success of Impact Bioenergy’s plan lies in our ability to deliver systems that will create “communities” from our customers who enjoy information sharing in the areas of purchasing, operations, and marketing.

Impact Bioenergy

have professionals located on the West Coast and East Coast, and in the United States and Canada. The corporate home town is Seattle, Washington

Topics: Agriculture, Anaerobic Digestion, Sustainability, Biogas, Industry Profile, Bioenergy

Building for Food Safety

Posted by Lee Drever on Sep 27, 2013 2:54:00 PM

Ceiling Panel Installation
Quick Liner Wall & Ceiling Panels being installed in a Canadian poultry facility.

Construction Material Regulations

What to Expect in Canada Versus the USA 

Food safety is something that most consumers take for granted but if you have ever been tasked with building a food-safe facility, you'll know that it can be a daunting exercise.

In the United States, food processing facilities are regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) while in Canada, they are regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). While the end-goals are similar, these federal agencies have slightly different approaches to ensuring food safety. 

For surfaces that do not come in contact with food (such as walls and ceilings), both the CFIA and the FDA have similar requirements.

CFIA requirements:

1. In areas where food is processed, packaged, stored or received and where utensils and equipment are kept or cleaned, the floors, walls and ceilings are to be constructed of materials that are:
(a) easily cleaned;
(b) durable;
(c) impervious;
(d) light in colour (to reflect light and facilitate cleaning);
(e) smooth;
(f) non-toxic; and
(g) non-corrosive.

2. The joints between the floors and the walls in areas identified above are to be coved and properly sealed to facilitate cleaning.

FDA requirements:

6-201.16 Wall and Ceiling Coverings and Coatings.
(A) Wall and ceiling covering materials shall be attached so that they are easily cleanable.
(B) Except in areas used only for dry storage, concrete, porous blocks, or bricks used for indoor wall construction shall be finished and sealed to provide a smooth, nonabsorbent, easily cleanable surface.

Whether you are building in Canada or the United States, your wall & ceiling requirements are similar. Surfaces should be smooth, easy to clean and sealable.

Food Safe Wall Coverings
Foodsafe facilities require smooth, easy-to-clean wall surfaces.

Canadian guidelines are more specific in the requirements that the surfaces be of bright colors and non-toxic but best practices are are best practices regardless of your regulatory body.

While it might be safe to assume that a passing facility on one side of the border would be passed by its Canadian or American counterpart, their agencies'  regulatory approaches are actually quite different.

If you are building in Canada, this distinction is pretty important.

The FDA's approach to regulation (particularly with construction materials) is to provide the regulations and guidelines and evaluate the complete facility for compliance - fairly simple. 

Quick Liner panel assembly webIn Canada, the CFIA not only provides guidance and enforces compliance, it also evaluates and approves construction components. This means, in the case of wall & ceiling coverings, your construction materials should be on the Reference Listing of Accepted Construction Materials, Packaging Materials and Non-Food Chemical Products. Materials on this list have been evaluated by the agency and deemed 'accepted' for use in food safe facilities. 

Octaform is Food-Safe 

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Octaform wall systems and Quick Liner wall & ceiling panels are designed to meet all of the specifications of both the FDA and the CFIA and are on the list of accepted materials (see the Octaform listing here). A full array of trim components are also available to cove corners and ensure compliance with both agencies.





Topics: Wall & Ceiling Panel, Food Processing, CFIA, FDA, Wall

Canada's Outdoor Farm Show

Posted by Thomas Belsheim on Sep 6, 2013 3:47:00 PM

Peter aka anemoneprojectors
photocredit: Peter aka anemoneprojectors

Where Canada's Farmers Meet

We are heading Woodstock, Ontario for Canada's Outdoor Farmshow.

Celebrating its 20th year in existence, Canada's Outdoor Farm Show is the largest outdoor agricultural show in the country. It offers  "one stop shopping" for farmers and highlights the most innovative and technologically advanced agr
icultural products and services available.
feature 20thAnniversary
Woodstock, Ontario
September 10-12
We will be there, showcasing our patented watertight PVC Wall Forming System and our newest product, Quick Liner.
Are you going to be there? Drop by and say hi to Robert in booth AB-7.

Topics: Agriculture, barns, Quick Liner

Western Car Wash Show - San Diego

Posted by Thomas Belsheim on Aug 30, 2013 5:02:00 PM


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Octaform is getting on a plane and heading down to sunny San Diego California for the annual Western Car Wash Show! We will be talking to industry experts, owners and suppliers about our Quick Liner Wall & Ceiling Panels and our Stay-in-Place Concrete Forms

 Western Car Wash Show

San Diego Convention Center

September 11-12, 2013


Cody and Bruce will be in booth 238, if you are attending, stop by! 

Can't make it to the show?  Here is the next best thing: an Octaform Sample Pack! Click the button below to learn how to build or upgrade your vehicle wash walls. 


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Click Here To Order a Sample


Topics: Wall & Ceiling Panel, wash walls, vehicle wash

New Water Treatment Tech Debuts At Aqua Nor

Posted by Lee Drever on Aug 22, 2013 12:44:00 PM

Recirculating Aquaculture System Recirculating aquaculture systems like this one constructed in the Saudi desert rely heavily on sophisticated water treatment systems to protect stocks from infection and disease. Xylem introduced new UV technology to Aqua Nor attendees this month.

- This month at Aqua Nor, the world of aquaculture previewed some technology that aims to help farmers keep their stock healthy while minimizing the need for vaccines and antibiotics.

Xylem's water treatment technologies are already in place in broad spectrum of industries from agriculture to water & wastewater. With the demands for efficient and sustainable aquaculture on the increase, companies like Xylem are wise to respond.

Recirculating Aquaculture Water TreatmentTheir response, in Norway, was to debut a new ultra-violet system designed to inactivate fish pathogens in both recirculating and flow through aquaculture systems. Xylem's new WEDECO BX and Quadron series UV systems are contained in duplex stainless steel reactors capable of resisting the corrosive effect of saltwater. These units will enable customers to efficiently handle pressurized flows ranging from 10 to more than 4,000 cubic meters per hour. 

“The recent extension of our line of WEDECO disinfection systems is the latest example of our commitment to solving our customers’ water problems,” said Gretchen McClain, president and chief executive officer of Xylem.  "We look forward to bringing all areas of Xylem’s aquaculture expertise to customers in pumping, treatment, instrumentation, heat exchange and control systems, for optimal biosecurity, energy efficiency, and value.”

Aquaculture is the most rapidly growing sector of food production worldwide. Higher fish density can lead to pathogen increase which is a significant threat to aquaculture operations. Disinfection by UV or ozone can reduce the risk of disease in aquaculture systems and results in less need for vaccination, as well as higher growth rates and decreased fish mortality.

Already a world leader in UV technology, the WEDECO brand is being used in large-scale fish farms in Norway, a country with some of the longest established and most advanced aquaculture industries. They rely on Xylem’s disinfection equipment to protect their aquatic livestock from the spread of diseases and to ensure clean, safe water for their aquaculture businesses. Xylem’s UV solutions are already approved by the Norwegian Veterinary Institute (NVI) and validated according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.

The World's Aquaculture Tank Technology Click Here to Learn More...


Topics: Aquaculture, Recirculating Aquaculture Systems, water treatment, Water and Wastewater

Quality or Quantity - Can Agriculture Have Both?

Posted by Thomas Belsheim on Aug 9, 2013 3:06:00 PM

Science, without question, has helped farmers to dramatically increase their crop yields over the last century. Some argue, however, that this has come with significant decline in quality. California-based Water Right Technologies (WRT) is hoping to change this.

 corn by Alternative Energy resized 600

Photocredit: Alternative Energy 

With a few process improvements, Water Right Technologies aims to enhance crop yield and quality.

As mentioned in a recent article by the Worldwatch Institute, today's farmer can grow two to three times as much food as they could on the same plot of land 50 years ago. While crop yields have increased, nutritional quality doesn't appear to have followed suit. 

In Still No Free Lunch, a report by Washington State University, researchers found that wheat cultivars grown between 1842 and 2003 had an "11% decline in iron content, a 16 percent decline in copper, a 25 percent decline in zinc and a 50 percent decline in selenium." Chemical inputs have drastically increased the yield of farming over the past 5 decades, while at the same time, robbing produce of its essential nutrients. 

With an ever-increasing demand for food, producing the highest possible yields has become central to conventional agriculture. Many farmers, struggling to keep up, have not been eager to change their crop management practices. This is where WRT hopes to come in. 

Water Right Technology aids farmers in rebuilding the quality of their soil. As the fundamental aspect of healthy crop growth, soil quality is most negatively affected by regimented chemical inputs. WRT's process begins with a full-spectrum analysis of the current state of soil conducted on the farm in question. The process goes even further by including samples of the water that is being used for irrigation, which is then mixed with collected soil samples. Without realizing, a farmer may conduct their own soil testing but not account for salts or bicarbonates that are present in the irrigation water being used. Crop management programs are then customized based off of the acquired results, and are fitted to improve upon preexisting practices. WRT utilizes the best natural soil amendment products on the market to restore nutrients and microbial communities into the earth. 

Backed by more than 40 years of applied agriculture experience WRT has tested many natural soil amendment products, and the two companies they distribute for deliver the most impressive and consistent results when used together. Baicor and Bio S.I. Technology manufacture an extensive line of organic soil amendments to meet the needs of any farmer, and WRT will educate their clients specifically on how each should be used. There have even been cases where farmers have experienced considerably better yields after the complete replacement of chemical inputs with these two brands, and proper implementation. WRT is working to change the way farmers think about producing quality over quantity.

Renew And Protect Your Barn Walls. Click Here To Find Out How!

Topics: Agriculture, Sustainability