Arguably the biggest annual celebration marks the last year before AD. And a convenient sharing of initials for anno domini and anaerobic digestion offers a cheesy reason to consider the opportunities for biofuels arising from our yearly AD celebration (it’s hard to split Christmas and New Year).
So, there’s the anticipation, the excitement, the parties, the giving and the receiving. The chance to catch up with family and friends, and not to mention extended time off work.
Then there’s the excess. Too much food and drink. Too little rest. What do you do with piles of used wrapping paper and greetings cards? What can you do usefully with a withered and wilted pine tree come January?
Of course, nowadays we’re all careful recyclers, so the left over Brussels sprouts, roast potatoes, turkey and mince pies go in the kitchen caddie and then into the food waste bin (we’re working towards the new Food Waste (Scotland) Regulations coming into force from 01 January 2014). From there, they’re likely to end up in an AD (that’s anaerobic digestion to avoid any confusion) facility helping to produce renewable biogas, electricity and heat.
Wrapping paper, used envelopes and cards, and empty boxes will also be collected for recycling, maybe to be turned into, well, more wrapping paper, cards, boxes and packaging (is this really a closed-loop?). We at the Scottish Biofuel Programme also know of a few tricks to convert paper and card into biofuels, so even at the end of their recycling life there could be another useful fate for these festive papers. Maybe go easy on the colourful ribbons and bows though?
And lastly, the Christmas tree. Ripped from the cold wet outdoors where it was happily capturing CO2 from the atmosphere, doing its champion work for global carbon capture. And stuck in an overheated room where, after being humiliated with tinsel, baubles and a fairy (!), its needles fall off, and it is discarded to be chopped and pulped, and probably composted. Of course, that same tree could have had a longer happier life fixing more carbon, and then gone on to sacrifice itself for biomass energy or biofuel conversion. Christmas tree biochar anyone?
Enjoy the season, and reassure yourself that while you’re enjoying yourself you are doing a little bit for renewable biofuels.
Now what could we do with a giant beanstalk..?