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Re-using waste for the future

Filed under: Uncategorized — emitaliablog
Posted on April 21, 2010 @ 5:05 pm
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Throughout history, recycling has been around in some way or another. Even as long ago as 400 BC signs of earlier recycling are known to have happened. Archaeological reports show that ancient waste dumps contained less of what’s known today as household waste, like pots, utensils and ash, which shows that individuals were, even in those days, keen to reuse products at a time when natural resources weren’t so freely available. Little did they know that what they were starting would play such a huge role in shaping the world for future generations

Indeed it may be argued how the old ‘rag-and-bone’ man was just an early recycler collectingdiscarded goods on his horse and cart, before reusing or converting the recovered items into new things.

During periods like the World War Years, recycling and re-use were necessary as natural resources became a lot more difficult to get. In addition to food being rationed, certain materials such as metal and fibre werenormally permitted just for use by the government to support military operations, to fulfill manufacturing requirements often in the production of weaponry.

Thanks to rising power costs, the need to recycle aluminium increased during the seventies.. As a material aluminium uses much less energy in the production process than various other materials. Also it was much coveted as a result of its non rusting attributes. The demand for aluminium saw the rise of scrap metal merchants who were ready to pay money in exchange for the best quality metal. Also, in the 70’s in regions of the United states, the first vans were seen to be collecting waste with a separate trailer for recovery of recyclable materials being towed behind the vehicle.

Towards the late 1980’s, early nineties and as the importance of managing the worldwide environmental state accelerated amongst global governments, the attention on recycling really began to gather momentum. In the United Kingdom, the government imposed recycling targets upon Local Authorities along with the introduction of the fresh legislation upon the waste product community, recycling programmes really began to take off. The once commonly recognised waste disposal firms, began to call themselves waste management businesses and demonstrated through the offer of waste collection and recyclable material collection that waste had to be managed more effectively.

These days, many hundreds of materials and resources may be recycled, which range from paper, card, glass and plastics, to mobile phone handsets, electrical items, printer cartridges, textiles, clothing and concrete.

What is Recycling?

The word recycling identifies the operation of converting second-hand resources into new or nearly new products to avoid the need for potentially useful materials or products to be discarded.

Recycling takes on a vital role in a modern world where climate change is high on the environmental agenda. It helps to reduce the need to unnecessarily send waste material and products to landfill or other waste disposal options. As a result this diminishes the need and the reliance upon consuming fresh or new natural materials, lowers energy usage and air and water supply pollution, all of which contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Significant contributions to improving the natural environment.

Recycling would probably be mostnoticeable through the recycling facilities now provided by local councils for domestic refuse and recycling collections and also innovative waste management organisations who typically give a full range of waste and recycling collection solutions. Some businesses, who have in the past focused only on the collection of recyclable materials, are extending their operations offering to collect general waste at the same time.

Many offices and retail outlets require a commercial collection service go to www.biffa.co.uk to get details of the expert services offered.

Within the waste materials industry, the common advertising activity surrounds the waste materials hierarchy – ‘reduce, reuse, recycle and recover’. This 4 R slogan is a straightforward message designed for a far reaching target audience. Consider how you can eliminate waste materials. Could the waste products or materials be reused? Can the waste product or material be recycled or retrieved?

The waste materials hierarchy is usually a strategy that a lot of waste management firms and local bodies consider when creating new waste management strategies. The system is designed to concentrate the thought process around preventing waste material being produced to start with. Take into account the options for reuse and recycling but ultimately minimise the amount of waste produced at the end of the cycle.

So the emphasis is very much on the overall manufacturing process. The waste material hierarchy stretches much wider than to waste management firms and local authorities. Working groups have already been set up to bring many industries together to consider the complete waste cycle. For instance, the manufacturer of a product has to take into account how the product is to be constructed. Can parts be used that can later be recycled or reused? Can the quantity of packaging which surrounds the product be cut down? Once the item gets to the shop, is it essential for the product to be placed inside an outer box? If the retailer sells the merchandise, what will the buyer do with the unwanted components of the purchase, i.e. the packaging? How will the packaging be handled and where will it go? Will it go back to a recycling facility, for onward transfer to a reprocessing plant, where the cycle starts all over again? The process must be simple to manage and implement.

How are Materials Collected for Recycling?

Legislation now dictates that most waste needs to be treated to divert the volume of recyclables and unnecessary waste materials heading direct to landfill. Since 1996, the UK government has enforced a landfill levy on all waste disposed of within landfill. The rate of levy has increased considerably in recent years rising from the original level of £8 per ton, to today’s rate of £40 per ton. The UK government has previously announced that this will increase further to £48 per ton by the end of 2010/11. This fee applies to all general waste material streams, although there exists a lesser rate for inert products. Sending waste materials directly to landfill is an expensive course of action and locating suitable processes to divert waste out of landfill has become a priority. For inert materials the rate is £2.50 per ton.

Thus, the message to everyone is crystal clear, segregate your waste to cut back the amount of waste materials going to landfill. Ordinarily, both at home and at work, as soon as you place waste material into the dustbin , it’s forgotten about. Somebody else will collect it and take it away. Today, in your own home and at the office, recycling is being stimulated via the provision of containers in which to place specific recyclable materials. At home, the children are often the keen recyclers.

Some common materials to be seen being gathered for recycling are paper, card, glass, metals and plastics. Even so the opportunity to recycle a large amount of materials or products continues to grow. Although technically not seen as recycling, food waste and garden waste collections are increasing, where the food or garden waste materials is taken back to a plant for processing into a reusable or saleable compost product.

Due to huge quantities of waste accumulating, the process of anaerobic digestion is a much more ecological method of transforming waste into a very important resource.

The systems of collecting materials or waste materials to be recycled is also escalating and ever more visible within local communities. Specialist collection sites, known as bring bank sites, are springing up in supermarket car parks to motivate customers of the store to return such objects as bottles, newspapers or cardboard to the containers on their way into the store.

Local Authority waste collection crews or their appointed personnel will collect refuse and recyclables from the roadside normally in front of your home. Collection from household premises generally continues to be the duty of the local authorities and several have employed the supply of boxes in which to gather specified recyclable materials or products. The services do vary from council to council.

In the industrial and commercial sector, waste materials management businesses offer individual storage containers where the customer deposits the appropriate waste materials stream or recyclable materials ready for collection. The containers will often be plainly branded as to which recyclable product ought to be placed inside that container or bin. Otherwise, the bins will probably be colour coded to identify which recyclable wastes should be placed within which bins. Waste management companies also may have to deal with special requests from the customer.

The true secret to a successful recycling initiative is informing the public about what can be recycled and how. In the commercial world getting the co-operation of factory employees is crucial. The introduction of any recycling scheme must ensure that in asking staff to separate waste for recycling, it does not become time consuming and affect the productivity of what employees should be doing in their work. The introduction of any recycling scheme should be kept simple.

The Recycling Process

Several collection systems exist for the collection of the recyclable products . Whichever collection system is utilised , the materials are taken to a recycling centre where they will be segregated from other waste materials.

To begin the recycling process from the collection point of view, the more recyclable materials which can be segregated at source, i.e. at home or in the work place, the more efficient it will be for the waste collector. That is why separate containers are supplied to the waste producer to encourage separation at source. If card could be collected on a vehicle, that will collect no other waste materials, the card will be kept uncontaminated and for that reason will have an improved value when it reaches the processing plant. In the same way, dedicated glass collection vehicles are used to collect just glass. Apart from the obvious health and safety reasons and the weight of collected glass, it will have a greater value if the collected glass load is not contaminated with other waste materials. Uncontaminated recyclables will present a much higher value than contaminated products.

When collected, the recyclable resources are generally taken direct to the reprocessing plant, if the load contains only that specific type of material. So a dedicated glass collection vehicle could take the load straight to a glass processing plant. It is more likely that the glass will have to be bulked up for onward shipment to the processor.

If compounded recyclables have been collected such as paper and card within the same compartment, it could be required for the collector to take the load to a recycling centre to unload and permit the load to be sorted into individual paper and card bundles for onward transfer to a paper or card processing plant. No matter which method is employed, the recyclable material gathered will most likely be segregated or cleaned before traveling through to a reprocessing facility to be processed to a new resource and ultimately used as something new or in manufacturing.

Because of high density populations, burden of waste disposal demands more clever answers than the old dump systems. power in waste is just the kind of alternative, turning waste material into energy.

The Increasing Importance of Recycling

In the UK around 35% of waste collected from homes is recycled or composted. Although in the commercial and industrial sector, the quantity of waste sent to landfill has dropped considerably recently and the volume of waste materials now being diverted for recycling or reuse by this market has grown above the amounts going to landfill. But there is still much to be done to boost rates further within this sector.

Landfill continues to play an important role in the control of waste throughout the UK as not all wastes can be recycled and some are more suited to landfill disposal than by some other method. Nonetheless, it’s not just the increasing costs of disposing of waste directly in landfill that is making recycling a more attractive option for businesses. Landfill has started to become scarce, with certain experts suggesting that the quantity of space in existence across all UK landfill sites, has under ten years existence remaining before all sites are deemed to be filled. Such countries as Dubai have filled parts of the coastline with their waste and created useful land area to extend the boundaries of their kingdom.

In the past few years, waste management firms have had to change their focal point, and start to think about and spend money on new technologies, such as energy from waste facilities, anaerobic digestion facilities and mechanised biological treatment plants, as alternatives to landfill. Local Authorities also have changed their views by undertaking detailed strategic reviews as to how waste materials under their jurisdiction should be dealt with. In some instances this means unitary authorities are implementing plans to introduce extended agreements, usually around two-and-a-half decades in length, through which to control their waste materials management needs. These deals will most likely include the need to create a facility through which to deal with all waste materials produced throughout the county by sorting all waste streams. The deals may also incorporate the collection of waste and recyclables from homes throughout the area. So the face of waste management has been evolving quickly. The times of merely throwing anything in the dustbin have disappeared and the advent of new technologies are upon us.

Summary

Recycling has become a lifestyle and is here to stay. It has evolved over the years from a thing that was undertaken with no real thought behind it. The trusty rag and bone man was just attempting to make a living. Today, many blue chip companies are setting out plans for a ‘zero to landfill’ waste policy, where the objective is very clear – reduce waste, reuse waste and recycle waste, but no waste must finish up in landfill.

Many homes across the country now have some form of bin in which to isolate waste materials for recycling. The need to separate newspapers, aluminium cans and plastic bottles are almost common place. Whilst in industrial and commercial areas, there is an increasing list of items to take into account for recycling like printer cartridges, office paper, metal and electrical equipment. Even on street corners and airports you see bins to recycle such items as newspapers and drink cans.

Ideally the whole process would be a complete cycle such as it was in the days of the horse. However the advent of new technologies will accelerate further the way in which our waste is to be managed in the future, but it is highly improbable that we will ever reach the ultimate waste free society. There will always be a need for waste to be disposed of somewhere, somehow.




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