Plastic, Waste decay and Recycling.

Plastics and other man-made products take longer to decompose than the natural occurring compounds. Let us find creative and innovative ways to re-use, reduce and recycle our waste. Organics such as banana peel and apple core can be decay and used in the production of Biomass energy, such as Biogas and also as manure for the soil.

The Leafy Agenda

In my country, we call waste “taka” or “taka taka”.

Poor waste management is rampant and it results in extensive dump-sites the height of anthills; some extending on large tracts of land. This waste continuously pollutes both water and food sources,and this untreated water is used for human consumption through drinking, cooking and also in Agriculture, to irrigate the crops on the fertile Kenyan soil . At the source, there  tends to be little or no segregation of waste hence all types of waste are combined at the dump-sites. This in turn impedes proper disposal and recycling of waste in the municipalities.

Food safety concerns are high with food and waterborne illnesses such as Cholera, typhoid and Dysentery infections thriving excellently in polluted water. Data from the PLOS Medicine Journal indicates Diarrhea, which is defined as passing three or more loose or liquid stools per day, kills roughly 1.5 million…

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Environmentally Confused – Burn or Recycle?

Sweden has had strict standards limiting emissions from waste incineration since the mid-1980s. Most emissions have fallen by between 90 and 99 per cent since then thanks to ongoing technical development and better waste sorting.

Journey of Mixed Emotions

The recycling movement in 1990s-era Vancouver started as a lukewarm way to protect the environment. Then the issues started heating up until it was a sizzling hot topic.

Everyone I knew became a star recycler. We learned how to sort properly, and although I did not always compost, I really tried to be environmentally responsible in other ways. Up until 2001, I was doing my undergraduate degree in biology and I felt it was my duty to understand the issues and be proactive.

In 2005 (give or take) I read Michael Crichton’s book State of Fear. Although there is controversy as to his thesis behind this fictional story, he had some great points about whether we were all jumping on the global warming bandwagon without all the facts. Almost 10 years later I still feel that way on a daily basis.

I am conditioned to recycle. I am often pulling…

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Waste Management in Stockholm

Misc. on land use planning (with a bias on Copenhagen)

I just came across an article in “City, Culture and Society”, dealing with Urban growth and waste management optimization in Stockholm and Adelaide. In Figure 2 in the results section the authors show a comparison of waste management systems in the two cities. However, for Stockholm they present only national data, assuming that this is also representative for the capital. Well, that striked me a bit because I am working with city data quite a lot and was wondering if there isn’t better data out there. In the database Urban Audit, maintained by Eurostat, you can find data for over 300 cities in Europe to a lot of different issues. Stockholm is one of the cities covered and waste data from 2008 was available, so I produced the graph below – in the same style as done in the mentioned article.

If you have access to the article

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Waste Management in Surrey

Surrey News

Surrey has saved millions of pounds on its landfill tax bill by more than halving the amount of waste it buries in the ground.

In the three year period from 2007/08, the county council reduced the amount of waste it sent to landfill from 64% to 33%.

That means Surrey buried around 200,000 tonnes less waste* in 2010/11 than it did three years earlier.

Currently landfill tax cost £64 per tonne, so the county council would have to fork out £12.8 million in taxes alone to bury 200,000 tonnes of rubbish in the ground.

The reduction in landfill use is in part down to the good work Surrey has done in reaching a 50% household waste recycling target almost a decade ahead of schedule.

It can also be attributed to the fact Surrey residents threw out almost 76,000 tonnes less rubbish in 2010/11 than they did in 2007/08.

John Furey…

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Rationale for Aluminium Recycling

Shredded aluminium beverage cans.
Image via Wikipedia

Aluminium is used extensively in aircraft, building construction, electrical transmission and consumer durables such as fridges, cooking utensils and air conditioners as well as in food processing equipment and cans. Infact, the use of aluminum exceeds that of any other metal except iron. Aluminium is the second most widely used metal whereas the aluminum can is the most recycled consumer product in the world. Aluminium exposed to fires at dumps can be a serious environmental problem in the form of poisonous gases and mosquito breeding. Recycled aluminium can be utilized for almost all applications, and can preserve raw materials and reduce toxic emissions, apart from significant energy conservation.

The demand for aluminium products is growing steadily because of their positive contribution to modern living. Aluminium finds extensive use in air, road and sea transport; food and medicine; packaging; construction; electronics and electrical power transmission. Aluminum has a high market value and continues to provide an economic incentive to recycle it. The excellent recyclability of aluminium, together with its high scrap value and the low energy needs during recycling make aluminium lightweight solutions highly desirable.

The contribution of the recycled metal to the global output of aluminium products has increased from 17 percent in 1960 to 34 percent today, and expected to rise to almost 40 percent by 2020. Global recycling rates are high, with approximately 90 per cent of the metal used for transport and construction applications recovered, and over 60 per cent of used beverage cans are collected.

Aluminium does not degrade during the recycling process, since its atomic structure is not altered during melting. Aluminium recycling is both economically and environmentally effective, as it requires a lot less energy to recycle than it does to mine, extract and smelt aluminium ore.  Recycled aluminium requires only 5% of the energy used to make primary aluminium, and can have the same properties as the parent metal. However, in the course of multiple recycling, more and more alloying elements are introduced into the metal cycle. This effect is put to good use in the production of casting alloys, which generally need these elements to attain the desired alloy properties.

The industry has a long tradition of collecting and recycling used aluminium products. Over the years, USA and European countries have developed robust separate collection systems for aluminium packaging with a good degree of success. Recycling aluminium reduces the need for raw materials and reduces the use of valuable energy resources. Recycled aluminium is made into aircraft, automobiles, bicycles, boats, computers, cookware, gutters, siding, wire and cans.

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Increasing use of Plastics and its Recycling

Plastic consumption has grown at a tremendous rate over the past two decades as plastics now play an important role in all aspects of modern lifestyle. Plastics are used in the manufacture of numerous products such as protective packaging, lightweight and safety components in cars, mobile phones, insulation materials in buildings, domestic appliances, furniture items, medical devices etc. Plastics are used because they are easy and cheap to make and they can last a long time. Disposal of plastic waste has emerged as an important environmental challenge and its recycling is facing roadblocks due to their non-degradable nature. Because plastic does not decompose biologically, the amount of plastic waste in our surroundings is steadily increasing. More than 90% of the articles found on the sea beaches contain plastic. Plastic waste is often the most objectionable kind of litter and will be visible for months in landfill sites without degrading.

Recycling and reuse of plastics is gaining importance as a sustainable method for plastic waste disposal. Unfortunately, plastic is much more difficult to recycle than materials like glass, aluminum or paper. A common problem with recycling plastics is that plastics are often made up of more than one kind of polymer or there may be some sort of fibre added to the plastic (a composite). Plastic polymers require greater processing to be recycled as each type melts at different temperatures and has different properties, so careful separation is necessary. Moreover, most plastics are not highly compatible with one another. Apart from familiar applications like recycling bottles and industrial packaging film, there are also new developments e.g. the Recovinyl initiative of the PVC industry (covering pipes, window frames, roofing membranes and flooring).

Polyethlene terephthalate (PET) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles have proven to have high recyclability and are taken by most curbside and drop-off recycling programs. The growth of bottle recycling has been facilitated by the development of processing technologies that increase product purities and reduce operational costs. Recycled PET and HDPE have many uses and well-established markets.

In contrast, recycling of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) bottles and other materials is limited. A major problem in the recycling of PVC is the high chlorine content in raw PVC (around 56 percent of the polymer’s weight) and the high levels of hazardous additives added to the polymer to achieve the desired material quality. As a result, PVC requires separation from other plastics before mechanical recycling.