Friday, May 14th, 2010
Failure to advance metal recycling, especially of rare metals used in high-tech products, could produce a global shortage of many metals within two decades, according to a series of reports by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
With few exceptions, recycling rates have been modest or low, and in some cases non-existent, the report says.
At a news conference, Thomas Graedel, a member of UNEP’s International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management and a Yale University professor, cited the example of indium, a metal used to create transparent electrodes used in liquid crystal displays, touch screens, semiconductors, and photovoltaic cells. (more…)
Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
The Plastiki, a sailing boat made out of 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles and other recycled waste products, has been sailing in the Pacific Ocean for more than 30 days.
Plastiki started its journey March 20 from San Francisco, with the intention to create public awareness about the effects of plastic usage on marine pollution and consequently sea life.
The Plastiki crew aims to explore a number of environmental hotspots, such as soon-to-be-flooded island nations, damaged coral reefs and the challenge faced by acidifying oceans and marine debris, in particular plastic pollution.
Plastiki’s journey is also scheduled to go through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a zone of trash one suspended on the water’s surface, twice the size of Texas, and stretching from the shores of California to the Sea of Japan.
The boat crew consists of six scientists, environmentalists and artists, led by the British adventurer David de Rothschild. The 60-foot boat is sailing with an average speed of five nautical miles per hour and the voyage is set end in Sydney in about three months. (more…)
Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
(Reuters) – Sporting goods maker Puma will launch eco-friendly packaging for its sneakers next year to reduce its carbon footprint, beating governments to the punch as it kisses old-fashion shoe boxes good-bye.
Puma said it would roll out the new packaging in the second half of next year and that by putting its shoes in cardboard frames wrapped in reusable shoe bags, it would save 8,500 tonnes of paper — the weight of more than 1,400 adult elephants.
It also said the change would mean a reduction of 60 percent in water and energy used during the production process and the amount needed for transportation due to lighter packaging (more…)
Friday, March 26th, 2010
Solar power is supposed to be clean and green, but what happens to the dirty ingredients involved to make and dispose of solar equipment?
Two years since the Washington Post first reported that a maker of polysilicon for solar panels was dumping toxic waste into Chinese soil, a U.S. nonprofit has ranked the “green” aspects of 25 photovoltaic module makers. The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition launched the Solar Scorecard (PDF) on Tuesday.
Installations of solar modules rose by 42 percent in 2009, according to SolarBuzz. If this growth continues, rooftop modules that wear out within two to three decades threaten to add toxic bulk to landfills, just as yesterday’s computer monitors and cell phones have created unwieldly piles of consumer electronics waste.
Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
Plastic bags are everywhere. Many years ago the only bags at the grocery store were paper ones. Now you have a choice of paper, plastic or bring your bag. Where have all the bags gone after they are used? Plastic bag and film recycling in the U.S. reached a record high in 2008, recovering about 832 million pounds of post consumer film, according to a new study from the American Chemistry Council.
Plastic bags are difficult and costly to recycle and many end up on landfill sites where they take around 300 years to photo degrade. They break down into tiny toxic particles that contaminate the soil and waterways and enter the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them. But the problems surrounding waste plastic bags starts long before they photo degrade. Many become airborne and float surprising distances. Others can choke waterways and animals.
The “National Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic Bags and Film Report,” conducted by Moore Recycling Associates, finds that plastic bag and film recovery increased 28 percent since 2005, driven by several factors including greater consumer access to collection programs and new markets for the recycled materials such as backyard decking, fencing, railings, shopping carts and new bags. (more…)
Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
Global efforts to ban the trade of electronics waste to developing nations in the hopes of ending so-called “backyard recycling” will only exacerbate a growing environmental problem, according to a new study.
Developed nations often export e-waste, such as old computers, to China, India, Thailand, and less developed nations where crude recycling processes can emit pollutants that contaminate the air, water, and soil.
For instance, copper wire is often pulled from the old computers and the insulation burned off, emitting dioxins and other chemicals.
The U.S. Congress is now considering an e-waste trade ban. But similar efforts have backfired, according to Eric Williams of Arizona State University.
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
Do you remember CRTs (Cathode Ray Tube) TVs? Nowadays every thing seems to be Plasma or LCD. Where do the old CRT’s go?
A new MIT study reports that demand for these CRT devices is still greater than the supply of old discarded CRTs, whose glass is recycled to make new ones. The demand comes mostly from the world’s developing nations, where inexpensive TV sets using CRTs are one of the first luxury items people tend to buy as soon as they have a little bit of disposable income.
Sales of CRT television sets peaked in 2005 at about 130 million units worldwide, and declined to about 90 million last year, The bulk of these new sales are in Asia and Latin America. Virtually all CRTs are now manufactured in Asia.
Monday, January 11th, 2010
Waste. Every company creates it, in some form or another. For some materials, the path to recycling is clear – paper, plastics, and industry specific waste that has a known reuse within your sector or a related one.
But what about the less obvious materials, the ones for which you have no feasible reuse, and therefore pay disposal fess, month after month? Is that the end of story, a “necessary evil” you must resign yourself to?
Not if Recycle Match can help it.
Much like eBay has created a global market on the consumer items that previously sat in people’s homes or were thrown away, Recycle Match seeks to match up those who generate either one-time or regular streams of hard-to-recycle materials, with those seeking that material for their own use.
Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
Reporting in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, more than 60 scientists found the following: Chemicals added to plastics are increasingly absorbed by humans, altering hormones and affecting fetal development and other physiological processes; millions of tons of plastic debris are ingested by hundreds of animal and fish species, clogging their digestive systems and infusing their systems with chemicals; floating plastic debris can last thousands of years in oceans and transport invasive species; plastic in landfills leaches harmful chemicals into groundwater; and 8 percent of world oil production goes into manufacturing plastics.
Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
The recession is hitting recycling hard.
Markets for metals and other recyclable goods are in the toilet. Some haulers are even stockpiling stuff in hopes of better days ahead.
The downturn has put the future of National Recycling Coalition in jeopardy, according to a letter sent recently to members. Among the ideas being floated are consolidating the group with another similar organization.
In what is becoming a familiar refrain, the federal stimulus bill holds some promise. The bill includes a provision from the NRC and its members that authorizes $3.2 billion for the Energy Efficiency Block Grant program, for communities to use for energy-related actions including projects related to source reduction and recycling, the coalition says.