Green Economy

Published on January 27th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan

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Ben & Jerry Factory in the Netherlands Powered by Ice Cream (Sort Of)

January 27th, 2011 by  

A new Ben & Jerry’s factory in the municipality of Hellendoorn in the Netherlands is soon going to generate energy from waste products such as milk, cream, syrup, and pieces of fruit. It will use a bio-digester to do so.

“Unilever, the global corporation that owns the Ben & Jerry’s brand, recently announced that it has started the construction of a Paques bio-digester at its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Hellendoorn, the Netherlands,” Beth Buczynski of Crisp Green writes. “Unilever opted for a new type of bio-digester, the BIOPAQ AFR (Anaerobic Flotation Reactor), in which 24 quadrillion – or 24,000,000,000,000,000 – natural micro-organisms ‘eat’ waste products and convert them into biogas.”

The bio-digester is expected to cover “40% of the factory’s green energy requirements.”

Construction started on this new bio-digester in Fall 2010 and it is supposed to be operational by mid-2011. Unilever is one of the first companies to use this new type of bio-digester, which is unique in that oil and fat can be treated and “digested” in a single compact reactor rather than having to be separated and then go through multiple processing stages.

Ben & Jerry Opposing Citizens United Ruling

While Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the founders of Ben & Jerry’s, may not be involved in such decisions anymore, it is good to see the company is keeping a bit of an innovative green focus. Meanwhile, Ben and Jerry are constantly on the leading edge of other important matters. They are apparently working hard to oppose the controversial Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that gives companies even more influence over politicians in the U.S. now. Yes, businessmen Ben and Jerry understand the problems with giving too much power to businesses and oppose this undemocratic decision. Here’s more from the Wall Street Journal:

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the founders of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, have organized a coalition of like-minded businesses to protest a Supreme Court ruling that struck down limits on corporate campaign spending in candidate elections.

“Business for Democracy” will stage its first-ever event on the one-year anniversary of the court’s decision in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission. The group opposes the controversial ruling, which allows companies to spend money from their general treasuries on political activities and rolled back a ban in the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform that set limits on when the money could be spent.

Members of “Business for Democracy” believe “the decision is inconsistent with the basic ideal of ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people,’” according to a release touting its creation. The coalition also supports a last-ditch push by the group Public Citizen to pass a constitutional amendment that seeks to restore some of the limits on corporate campaign contributions that were waived by the Citizens United decision.

“Business for Democracy” includes other politically involved companies, including Patagonia, Stonyfield Farms and Honest Tea.

Anyway, good to see that both the company and the founders are working to improve our world a bit in their own ways.

Photo Credit: implusivebuy


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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.



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