• 12.3.19 Fake reviews online; Gift cards are awful; Revolutionary recycling techniques

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    There’s been a huge increase in the number of fake reviews. Consulting firm Pattern found for an item listed on Amazon, a one star higher rating leads to a 30% increase in sales. The marketplace incentives for fake reviews to boost a score are so enormous, fake reviews have infiltrated the retail landscape. According to Fakespot, in addition to Amazon this is a problem at Walmart.com. There’s no reason to believe it’s not a problem across retail sites. 35% of all reviews on Amazon are fake, often generated by paid writers from overseas. This makes it important to read reviews because you can tell when they’re bogus. Most people only look at the number of stars. Red flag: when an item only has 5 stars be suspicious and read on. Check Consumer Reports rating for the most trustworthy assessments.

    Gift cards remain popular, but 40% of Americans no longer wish to receive them because of all the fraud. Criminals gain access to secret codes enabling them to empty the cards upon activation. LA Times columnist David Lazarus reports gift card fraud has gotten more sophisticated. Now hackers have compromised the entire gift card system, able to use a computer program to figure out secret codes and card numbers for most every card issued. They can now compromise cards at will, and generally the retailers don’t make good on the ripped cards. Caution! Know the risk has increased and retailers have failed to provide adequate security to protect gift card purchases.

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    Dealing with trash is a huge expense for municipalities. But city and county recycling efforts are not profitable today and attempts to do so are burdening tax payers. There’s been a technological breakthrough developed by an Israeli company that’s gotten worldwide attention. Startup UBQ Materials is using a new method that’s achieving zero waste. New machinery can sort, chop, grind, shred, clean and heat garbage into a thick liquid, which can be turned into pellets and reused in manufacturing. Full upcycling has been achieved here. The conversion of all waste into a potentially valuable product has enormous advantage to society, including the elimination of landfills. Key: solutions must be economically sound to be sustainable. We face strong demands on water and other resources, disease from waste and other problems. Solving these problems in such a fashion will make it green (profitable) to be green. 
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