We’re all struggling to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint and make a difference in the fight against climate change. However, sometimes it feels like a lost cause – how can one person change things?
The truth is that everything makes a difference. The better each person looks after the Earth, the more the environment can sustain itself and recover. Here are a few small changes you can make in your own garden.
1. Look After Your Soil
A vegetable patch is one of the great delights of a garden. Growing your own produce is satisfying, sustainable, and delicious. However, soil that fosters crops year after year gets tired, just as we do when we work our jobs for too long without a break.
Regenerative agriculture is a farming practice that takes care of the soil used to grow crops. This is achieved by giving the soil a break once in a while. This can be done by rotating crops, so one patch of soil isn’t used for one especially labor-intensive crop each year, or by simply giving a field a year off.
You can do this on a smaller scale in your yard. If you’ve been using the same part of your garden as a vegetable patch for a few years, consider switching it out with another one. Refertilize the soil in your veg patch and give it time to rest. Let the worms improve it and perhaps grow some less intensive crops like wildflowers in that patch for a year. It’ll be ready to grow crops again the next year, and they’ll be all the better for being grown in rested, regenerated soil.
2. Get a Compost Bin
One of the easiest ways you can benefit the environment is by composting waste rather than throwing it away. Landfills have a devastating impact on the environment, and the less we put in them, the better.
Composting fruit and vegetable waste along with recyclable material like cardboard is a great start. It also means you’ll have a ready supply of high-quality compost to mulch through your soil once it breaks down, which regenerates the soil and helps you grow healthier plants!
3. Grow Plants That Attract Pollinators
Another excellent tip is to grow more wildflowers and pollinator-friendly plants. The best choices may surprise you – garden centers and bees don’t always agree on what the best plants are for your garden. Some wildflowers look slightly unkempt compared to neat hedgerows, but your local bee population will appreciate it. And the bees need help!
Likewise, it’s not just the pretty, dopey bumblebees that act as pollinators. Hoverflies and even wasps play a critical role in local ecosystems. We know – attracting wasps is a hard sell. But these insects are crucial to our environment’s survival. They’ll appreciate the help.
4. Avoid Pesticides and Weedkillers
Pesticides and weedkillers are terrible for the environment. Some organic options are less harmful, but ultimately, the less you can use these, the better.
There are exceptions. An ant infestation needs to be dealt with as soon as it appears. But if you can avoid spraying pesticides and weedkillers over your garden, it’ll be a happier place.
5. Nurture Fungi
If you see mushrooms growing in your yard, it’s a sign of a healthy ecosystem! Fungi break down dying plant matter, and they’re to be welcomed. Again, exceptions can be made – for example, if you have small children who might get a bit too inquisitive.
Your yard is the best place to start doing your bit for the environment. A few small changes make a big difference – nobody is too small to help!
As we strive to shrink our global carbon footprint, society must alter its energy sources. Solar panels and wind turbines are two familiar types of green power that contribute to protecting the planet. Investing in renewables can improve the environment and lower the cost of electricity.
As scientists look for efficient and sustainable solutions to non-renewable energy use, they turn back to basics. People used to rely on fire for fuel. Today, we can utilize these age-old practices to limit our reliance on environmentally polluting fuel sources.
The Importance of Renewable Energy
Nearly 80% of our current energy comes from coal, oil and gas. The use of fossil fuels in power production harms human health and the planet.
About 2.6 million Americans experience health issues from oil and gas exposure from fossil fuel transportation and processing facilities. Benzene and formaldehyde are two toxins associated with nonrenewable energy production that contribute to leukemia and blood disorders. The workers who mine oil and gas also risk exposure to airborne pollutants that cause lung cancer and breathing difficulties.
The production of fossil fuel energy affects the environment by emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The greenhouse effect is a natural process that the Earth uses to maintain life on its surface. It keeps the global temperature consistent to protect the ecosystem’s functionality.
Adding pollutants into the atmosphere changes its composition. These greenhouse gases absorb the sun’s energy, convert it into heat and release it back to space. Excess contaminants make it difficult to allow heat to escape. This increases the global temperature over time.
Renewable energy sources act as an alternative to greenhouse gas-emitting power. Various companies are working on producing a chemical-free solution known as biomass energy.
What is Biomass?
Biomass is a form of renewable energy derived from organic materials. Wood was the original source used by the first humans for survival. Now, we can rely on wood pellets, sawdust, black liquor and more to create commercial and residential fuel options.
We can also utilize agricultural matter to produce biomass. Soybeans, corn, algae, sugar cane and other plants can create fuel to power our homes, electric cars and devices. Scientists are also using refuse for energy production. Municipal solid waste, like cotton, paper, yarn and food, can transform into biomass power. A less appealing way to produce this renewable energy derives from animal manure and human waste.
Companies take these materials and create energy through a direct combustion process. It forms a refined liquid or gas to burn for power. Because plants grow naturally and indefinitely on Earth, biomass is a renewable source.
Environmental Effect of Biomass
Although biomass production and use emit no direct carbon into the environment, it may be less sustainable than other renewable power sources. When burned, these fuels release toxins like nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter into the atmosphere.
Biomass production also contributes to deforestation. Many companies use soybeans to create the renewable fuel, which affects forests in Argentina. The country produces 15% of the global soy source, using 16 million hectares of forest land for production.
As Argentina increases production to meet international demands, it must cut down trees and vegetation to make space for agricultural growth. The monoculture of soy also leads to soil depletion. To reverse these environmental impacts, farms use synthetic fertilizers and pesticides on their land.
Because biomass crops are water-intensive, they contribute to runoff pollution. When farmers water their plants, the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides drain into the ocean, contributing to oxygen depletion and dead zones. The significant amount of water used to produce these crops leads to resource exploitation. It takes nearly 4,000 gallons of water to grow a bushel of corn for biomass energy.
Is Biomass Worth the Destruction?
Biomass can effectively reduce the carbon footprint. The renewable energy source also limits the adverse health effects associated with conventional energy production. However, it emits air pollutants into the atmosphere, causing deforestation and water exploitation, which decreases its sustainability.
The answer is complicated. Every renewable energy source has its downfalls. When you use a bit of energy from each green resource, you can limit your environmental impact and still power the planet.
Ways Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) Sinar Mas is Driving Stronger Sustainability Goals in the Pulp & Paper Industry
Robust sustainability goals are imperative to creating a brighter, more resilient, and more responsible organisation. Some business leaders consider such targets an impediment to their financial objectives. Yet designing and implementing an effective organisation-wide sustainable development plan can drive growth, reduce risk and enhance capital while protecting the earth.
Research has even found that businesses actively addressing their environmental impact benefit from an 18% greater return on investment; and these financial gains aren’t just coming from eco-conscious consumers, but investors and stakeholders who recognise the value of sustainable development in a dynamic and changing world.
Many organisations often look to the United Nations and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) when producing their sustainability plan. Launched in 2015, these objectives help address numerous global environmental, social and economic issues. While implementing sustainable business practices is undoubtedly complex, the SDGs provide a practical framework that helps organisations plan and deliver meaningful changes that align with larger and shared sustainability targets.
For corporations and organisations based in Hong Kong and beyond, considering and shaping your business practices in line with the 17 SDGs could help you address crucial organisational issues that affect success. Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) Sinar Mas is one such company that has used these SDGs to develop its Sustainability Roadmap Vision 2030 – a comprehensive long-term company-wide sustainable development framework that sets ambitious targets for 10 key impact areas throughout its supply chain.
This integration of the SDGs provides the business and its stakeholders with a benchmark to measure and assess Asia Pulp & Paper’s sustainability performance over time. For organisations working in the pulp and paper industry, displaying a sincere commitment to sustainable forest management practices, community engagement and energy-efficient production methods ensure you work towards a better society that satisfies the demands of all stakeholders – including your own business goals.
Here, we explore some steps businesses must take to meet their sustainability targets now and in the future.
Create a positive work environment
Simply setting robust sustainability targets isn’t enough to secure employee buy-in. Achieving transformative organisation-wide cultural change requires leadership to actively engage employees and show how their individual efforts make a cumulative difference. Many organisations inadvertently discover success by making sustainability the job of everyone in the business hierarchy, with a collaborative and unified mindset helping to produce incredible results.
It’s important to keep in mind that this process doesn’t happen overnight, regardless of the size, scale, or resource availability of your organisation. Instead, management must inspire employees to take part in this journey by defining their long-term goals and highlighting how positive changes can deliver a powerful impact. In many cases, employees often understand the need for a more sustainable approach through an economic lens. Convincing workers to engage becomes natural if you can show how delivering on SDGs improves the company’s bottom line.
Moreover, creating lasting sustainable change within a business is impossible without a happy workforce. Ekamas Fortuna, a business unit of Asia Pulp & Paper, recently received the Gold Awards: Zero Conflict 2022, an accolade that recognises the organisation’s employee satisfaction through workplace agreements and practices that enhance welfare and comfort. While setting impressive sustainability targets is key to creating a better world, persuading your workforce to participate is just as important – and in fact, forms a key part of a sustainable outlook for your business as a whole.
Develop a safe workplace
If businesses are serious about their sustainability targets, employee safety must remain a primary concern.
Every business in the pulp and paper industry, no matter how big or small, must contend with dangerous hazards throughout the supply chain. On the factory floor, the accumulation of combustible dust is a significant problem, as it can lead to major fires and explosions if left unaddressed. Plus, heavy machinery and chemicals can also cause injury to employees when mishandled
In fact, employee safety and welfare are addressed across several of the 17 SDGs – including 3.9, 8.8 and 16.6 – which consider issues ranging from hazardous chemical exposures to labour rights and transparent institutions. Asia Pulp and Paper has taken significant strides in these areas, with 28 of its business units and supply partners recognised by Indonesia’s Minister of Manpower at the recent OHS Management Awards.
These awards are given to organisations that successfully implemented the Occupational Health Safety Management System (SMK3) – a certification designed to control workplace risks and deliver a safe, efficient and productive environment. The Asia Pulp & Paper business unit, PT IKPP Tangerang, was especially highly regarded, receiving extra recognition for its effective COVID-19 policies and for having zero work accidents during the assessed period.
Master social responsibility
Delivering stronger sustainability targets isn’t just about what you can do internally. Organisations with the power to influence communities near and far should also plan and execute targets through the corporate social responsibility (CSR) model. This self-regulatory approach is ideal for proving your sustainable development credentials with the public, business stakeholders and yourself.
So, how do you align a CSR strategy with your business goals?
First, your corporate hierarchy must define what corporate social responsibility means to the organisation. Then it can identify strategies that realise this definition by partnering with like-minded charities, social enterprises and other philanthropic endeavours. Alongside tangible goals that detail the meaning of success, a well-defined CSR strategy can offer numerous business advantages.
For example, businesses with an effective CSR plan often experience increased customer loyalty, enhanced revenue and employee commitment. As more consumers in Hong Kong and around the globe want to support businesses that aren’t solely driven by profit, creating and delivering a meaningful CSR strategy can help your organisation stand out from its competition in the pulp and paper industry.
Awards, certifications, and other third-party assessments are easy ways for companies to ensure that their sustainability goals are feasible, traceable, and transparent.
At the Top CSR Awards 2022, three Asia Pulp and Paper business units received awards for their commitment to corporate social responsibility. Based on implementing ISO 2600 – an international standard for social responsibility – PT OKI Pulp & Paper Mills and PT Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper received the “Excellent” four-star award. Meanwhile, PT Paper Factory Tjiwi Kimia received the “Very Excellent” five-star designation.
Achieving such accomplishments not only enables you to assess your own progress via impartial third-party criteria, but holds you accountable to a wider group of stakeholders as well.
Deliver sustainability targets
Adopting sustainability targets is only the beginning when building a better and more responsible business. You also have to show stakeholders how your efforts have delivered tangible change. With a transparent and mindful approach, you can set measurable targets that give internal and external stakeholders a way to assess your performance.
Four of Asia Pulp and Paper’s business units were recognised at the recent 2022 Indonesia Asia Green Awards for their dedication to sustainability. In the Water Resources Savings category, PT OKI Pulp & Paper Mills received an award for its work in South Sumatra. Here, the company used reverse osmosis to process peat water into ready-to-drink water for 21 remote villages, reducing local spending on drinking water by up to 50%.
In the Pollution Prevention Pioneering category, PT Kertas Tjiwi Kimia Tbk transformed coal waste into paving blocks for local infrastructure, including roads, mosques and school facilities. Elsewhere, PT Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper repurposed waste from paper rope machines to provide the women of Tegal Maja village with extra materials to increase their craft-making income.
These initiatives reflect that business growth, sustainability, and community development can be interconnected, rather than disparate and disconnected. In fact, it’s when organisations are able to address all three considerations simultaneously that they are able to see the biggest payoffs in terms of long-term sustainable change.
With a dedicated approach to sustainable development, empowering local communities while increasing business outcomes is more than possible. Asia Pulp & Paper is just one such organisation in the pulp and paper industry taking a forward-thinking approach to its sustainability targets, making them a possible blueprint for other companies in Hong Kong and beyond looking to strengthen their sustainability goals.
Incineration is the most popular waste treatment method that transforms waste materials into useful energy. The incineration process converts waste into ash, flue gas, and heat. The type of thermal WTE technology most commonly used worldwide for municipal solid waste is the moving grate incineration. These moving grate incinerators are even sometimes referred to as as the Municipal Solid Waste Incinerators.
There are more than 1500 Waste-to-Energy plants (among 40 different countries) there is no pre-treatment of the MSW before it is combusted using a moving grate. The hot combustion gases are commonly used in boilers to create steam that can be utilized for electricity production. The excess energy that can’t be used for electricity can possibly be used for industrial purposes, such as desalination or district heating/cooling.
Benefits of Moving Grate Incineration
The moving grate incineration technology is lenient in that it doesn’t need prior MSW sorting or shredding and can accommodate large quantities and variations of MSW composition and calorific value. With over 100 years of operation experience, the moving grate incineration system has a long track record of operation for mixed MSW treatment. Between 2003 and 2020, it was reported that at least 200 moving grate incineration plants were built worldwide for MSW treatment. Currently, it is the main thermal treatment used for mixed MSW.
Compared to other thermal treatment technologies, the unit capacity and plant capacity of the moving grate incineration system is the highest, ranging from 10 to 920 tpd and 20 to 4,300 tpd. This system is able to operate 8,000 hours per year with one scheduled stop for inspection and maintenance of a duration of roughly one month.
Today, the moving grate incineration system is the only treatment type which has been proven to be capable of treating over 3,000 tpd of mixed MSW without requiring any pretreatment steps. Being composed of six lines of furnace, one of the world’s largest moving grate incineration plants has a capacity of 4,300 tpd and was installed in Singapore by Mitsubishi in 2000
Moving grate incineration requires that the grate be able to move the waste from the combustion chamber to allow for an effective and complete combustion. A single incineration plant is able to process thirty-five metric tons of waste per hour of treatment.
The MSW for a moving grate incinerator does not require pretreatment. For this reason, it is easier to process large variations and quantities. Most of these incineration plants have hydraulic feeders to feed as-received MSW to the combustion chamber (a moving grate that burns the material), a boiler to recover heat, an air pollution control system to clean toxins in the flus gas, and discharge units for the fly ash. The air or water-cooled moving grate is the central piece of the process and is made of special alloys that resist the high temperature and avoid erosion and corrosion.
Working principle of a grate incinerator
The waste is first dried on the grate and then burnt at a high temperature (850 to 950 degrees C) accompanied with a supply of air. With a crane, the waste itself is emptied into an opening in the grate. The waste then moves towards the ash pit and it is then treated with water, cleaning the ash out. Air then flows through the waste, cooling the grate. Sometimes grates can also be cooled with water instead. Air gets blown through the boiler once more (but faster this time) to complete the burning of the flue gases to improve the mixing and excess of oxygen.
Suitability for Developing Nations
For lower income and developing countries with overflowing landfills, the moving grate incinerator seems suitable and efficient. Moving grate incineration is the most efficient technology for a large-scale mixed MSW treatment because it is the only thermal technology that has been able to treat over 3,000 tons of mixed MSW per day. It also seems to be considerably cheaper than conventional technologies.
Compared to other types of Waste-to-Energy technologies, this type of system also shows the highest ability to handle variation of MSW characteristics. As for the other incineration technologies like gasification and pyrolysis technologies, these are either limited in small-scale, limited in material for industrial/hazardous waste treatment, requiring preprocessing of mixed MSW before feeding, which make them not suitable for large-scale mixed MSW treatment.
For the reduction of significant waste volume, treatment using a moving grate incinerator with energy recovery is the most common waste-to-energy technology. The moving grate’s ability to treat significant volumes of waste efficiently, while not requiring pre-treatment or sorting is a major advantage that makes this suitable for developing countries.
This technology could provide many other benefits to such nations. Implementing moving grate incinerators is most suitable for developing nations because not only will it reduce waste volume, but it would also reduce the demand for landfills, and could recover energy for electricity.
Kamuk, Bettina, and Jørgen Haukohl. ISWA Guidelines: Waste to Energy in Low and Middle Income Countries. Rep. International Solid Waste Association, 2013. Print.
“Municipal Solid Waste Management and Waste-to-Energy in the United States, China and Japan.” Themelis, Nickolas J., and Charles Mussche. 2nd International Academic Symposium on Enhanced Landfill Mining, Houthalen and Helchteren, Belgium, 4-16 October 2013. Enhanced Landfill Mining. Columbia University.
“Review of MSW Thermal Treatment Tecnologies.” Lai, K.C.K., I.M.C. Lo, and T.T.Z. Liu. Proceedings of the International Conference on Solid Waste 2011- Moving Towards Sustainable Resource Management, Hong Kong SAR, P.R. China, 2 – 6 May 2011. Hong Kong SAR, P.R. China. 2011. 317-321. Available: http://www.iswa.org/uploads/tx_iswaknowledgebase/10_Thermal_Technology.pdf. accessed on 14 April 2016.
UN-HABITAT, 2010. Collection of Municipal Solid Waste in Developing Countries. United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), Nairobi. Available:
Waste management has a profound impact on all sections of the society, and military is no exception. With increasing militarization, more wars and frequent armed conflicts, protection of the environment has assumed greater significance for military in armed conflicts as well as peacetime operations. Tremendous amount of waste is generated by military bases and deployed forces in the form of food waste, papers, plastics, metals, tires, batteries, chemicals, e-waste, packaging etc.
War on Waste
Sustainable management of waste is a good opportunity for armed forces to promote environmental stewardship, foster sustainable development and generate goodwill among the local population and beyond. Infact, top military bases in the Western world, like Fort Hood and Fort Meade, have an effective strategy to counter the huge amount of solid waste, hazardous waste and other wastes generated at these facilities.
Waste management at military bases demands an integrated framework based on the conventional waste management hierarchy of 4Rs – reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery (of energy). Waste reduction (or waste minimization) is the top-most solution to reduce waste generation at military bases which demands close cooperation among different departments, including procurement, technical services, housing, food service, personnel. Typical waste reduction strategies for armed forces includes
making training manuals and personnel information available electronically
reducing all forms of packaging waste
purchasing products, such as food items, in bulk
purchasing repairable, long-lasting and reusable items
Due to large fraction of recyclables in the waste stream, recycling is an attractive proposition for the armed forces. However, environmental awareness, waste collection infrastructure, and modern equipment are essential for the success of any waste management strategy in a military installation.
Food waste and yard waste (or green waste) can be subjected to anaerobic digestion or composting to increase landfill diversion rates and obtain energy-rich biogas (for cooking/heating) and nutrient-rich fertilizer (for landscaping and gardening). For deployed forces, small-scale waste-to-energy systems, based on thermal technologies, can be an effective solution for disposal of combustible wastes, and for harnessing energy potential of wastes. In case of electronic wastes, it can be sent to a Certified Electronics Recycling and Disposal firm.
Management options for military installations is dependent on size of the population, location, local regulations, budgetary constraints and many other factors. It is imperative on base commanders to evaluate all possible options and develop a cost-effective and efficient waste management plan. The key factors in the success of waste management plan in military bases are development of new technologies/practices, infrastructure building, participation of all departments, basic environmental education for personnel and development of a quality recycling program.
Military installations are unique due to more than one factor including strict discipline, high degree of motivation, good financial resources and skilled personnel. Usually military installations are one of the largest employers in and around the region where they are based and have a very good influence of the surrounding community, which is bound to have a positive impact on overall waste management strategies in the concerned region.
Distance learning is not a new phenomenon by any means. This concept has been around since the early days of formal education. But the computer age ushered in a new era of distance learning, which was further boosted by the internet age.
But in 2020, the evolution of distance learning reached exponential levels. Tech companies are now tripling their efforts to meet the current demands of the reimagined academic system.
In this article, we discuss the history of distance learning and explore future changes awaiting online education.
A Brief History of Distance Learning
Some people credit the coming of the internet as the precursor to distance learning. But some clarification is necessary to trace the roots of online learning.
Distance learning refers to any form of education outside the walls of a traditional academic institution. Essentially, this education format doesn’t require a student’s physical presence in a classroom setting.
On the flip side, online learning is any form of education that takes place via the internet. By definition, any distance learning approach that existed before the internet cannot be classified as online learning. Instead, they all form part of distance or remote learning.
See the difference?
Correspondence learning refers to a form of education without face-to-face interactions. Teachers used to send schoolwork to students, who then returned the completed work. This back-and-forth was facilitated by postal services in the early days.
Imagine how difficult and time-consuming it was to complete a course if the teacher had to correct the work ten times.
Nowadays, correspondence education is still applicable to situations where students communicate with teachers via email or text messages alone. Students can also hire an essay writer to help them in completing their academic assignments.
Learning from Home
When schools started gaining popularity, royals often hired specialized tutors for their children. These tutors lived with them in castles and focused on educating members of royal families. This was the first instance of organized learning from home.
Later, homeschooling became a fringe option for families that didn’t fancy sending their children to crowded schools — for health and personal reasons. These parents also hired teachers to provide a state-approved syllable for their kids. Sometimes, they even handled the teaching themselves without a certified educator.
Today, e-learning online education has become more popular than ever. Students can now acquire e-learning creative education without seeing their classmates at least once.
Correspondence learning in the 1800s
Let’s take a trip back to the origins of e-learning and education. In 1840, Sir Isaac Pitman used the postal service to keep correspondence with his students. He would send out shorthand courses to his pupils and receive the solutions by mail a few weeks later.
Later in 1873, Anna Eliot Ticknor adopted Pitman’s model in creating the “Society to Encourage Home Studies” in Boston, marking the start of correspondence learning in America. In essence, this laid the foundation for homeschooling.
Distance learning from the 1900s – 1980s
Radio and television technologies came into existence in the early 20th-century, but they didn’t become teaching tools until the late 1920s. 1n 1948, the Federal Communications Commission supported an NBC mass education project focused on distance learning. The project was headed by John Wilkinson Taylor, who was also the president of the University of Louisville.
During the 1960s, television programs like “Dr. Posin’s Universe” and “Out of This World” became household entertainment. The Emmy-winning Dr. Posin presented scientific content that played on TV networks in America.
However, these courses were never accredited by universities because they didn’t meet academic standards. But the invention of the personal computer and electronic mail marked another turning point in remote learning. Instead of using the postal services, students could now communicate with teachers via email.
This was the first step in e-learning school education.
E-learning in the 1990s
Although sending emails became possible in the 1980s, the internet age made it a widespread phenomenon. Once the internet became part of everyday life, people could now send messages instantly over dial-up connections.
By 1999, the first fully online university — Jones International University — gained full accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The learning curriculum featured video conferencing, phone calls, and other online education e-learning tools available at the time.
Eventually, institutions around the world began to emphasize e-learning in teacher education. This change in approach addressed the changing academic and socio-cultural landscape.
Eventually, other advanced academic solutions found more use in the school system. Homeschooling even became more mainstream because students could now connect to lectures from different parts of the world.
The COVID-19 Transformation of Distance Learning
Before 2020, the growth of distance learning was gradual and on pace with technological advancements. But once the lockdowns started, educational systems across the world had to make rapid changes to accommodate new regulations. And these adjustments were centered around eliminating physical contact in school.
Furthermore, the absence of technology to address issues like lab practices and medical practicals highlighted the unreadiness of colleges to move to remote learning. To address these gaps, institutions are currently investing in various digital solutions. The estimated investments in e-learning solutions will reach 350 billion USD by 2025.
Also, teachers now need to acquire advanced technical skills to use classroom management portals. These skills will also help them address technical issues during classes.
However, these changes are unfavorable for e-learning for special education. Disenfranchised students without learning aids now struggle to keep up with their peers. As a result, academic performance in e-learning special education is witnessing a rapid decline.
As the global pandemic persists, students struggle to learn courses that require face-to-face interaction. E-learning in medical education and applied sciences are struggling to cope with the pressures of the lockdown.
The Future of Distance Education
At the moment, this online learning trend will continue even when the pandemic subsides. Students from low-income households will drop out in massive numbers because of financial constraints. Also, teacher training programs will focus on technical skills alongside teaching abilities.
More so, e-learning sites online education will gain more popularity, especially among students uninterested in full-scale formal learning. Platforms like Coursera and Udemy will become mini-universities for skill acquisition.
Furthermore, cybersecurity will become a pressing subject for school administrators. Since most academic portals run on centralized platforms, they are prone to malware attacks. Therefore, schools will have to organize online orientation programs on ways to avoid ‘phishing’ and ransomware attacks.
Ultimately, the current situation and response will provide a crisis playbook for future pandemics.
We’ve not seen the last of distance learning’s evolution. If history is any indicator, future technological advancements will also affect distance learning in higher education. But at the moment, schools should focus on the best ways to improve student performance across the board.
Solid waste management situation in Pakistan is a matter of grave concern as more than 5 million people to die each year due to waste-related diseases. In Pakistan roughly 20 million tons of solid waste is generated annually, with annual growth rate of about 2.4 percent. Karachi, largest city in the country, generates more than 9,000 tons of municipal waste daily. All major cities, be it Islamabad, Lahore or Peshawar, are facing enormous challenges in tackling the problem of urban waste. The root factors for the worsening garbage problem in Pakistan are lack of urban planning, outdated infrastructure, lack of public awareness and endemic corruption.
Being the 6th most populated country in the world; there is a lot of consumerism and with it a great deal of waste being produced. Like other developing countries, waste management sector in Pakistan is plagued by a wide variety of social, cultural, legislative and economic issues. In the country, more waste is being produced than the number of facilities available to manage it. Some of the major problems are:
There is no proper waste collection system
Waste is dumped on the streets
Different types of waste are not collected separately
There are no controlled sanitary landfill sites. Opening burning is common.
Citizens are not aware of the relationship between reckless waste disposal and resulting environmental and public health problems
As a result of these problems, waste is accumulating and building up on roadsides, canals, and other common areas and burning trash is common, causing hazardous toxins to be exposed thereby threatening human and environmental health. Among the already few landfill sites that are present, even fewer are in operation. Even within Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, there are no permanent landfills to be found.
The waste on the roads allows for an ideal environment for various flies to thrive which effects both human health and the health of the environment for other species. The poor solid waste management in Pakistan has caused numerous diseases and environmental problems to rise.
Waste Management Situation in Lahore
In Lahore, the capital of Punjab and the second largest city in Pakistan, there are currently no controlled waste disposal facilities are formal recycling systems, though roughly 27% of waste (by weight) is recycled through the informal sector, Lahore does not have very high performing governmental management in the waste management situation. Instead, the City District Government Lahore established the Lahore Waste Management Company and left the responsibility of the Solid Waste Management in Lahore to them. Beginning in 2011, Lahore Waste Management Company strives to develop a system of SWM that ensures productive collection, recovery, transportation, treatment and disposal of the waste in Lahore.
Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) has over 10,000 field workers involved in waste collection and disposal. Though the LWMC is working in phases, 100% collection rates are not seen yet. Lahore currently only has three disposal sites which are no more than dumps, where illegal dumping and trash burning is common. However, there is some resource recovery taking place. It is estimated that 27% of dry recyclables are informally recycled within the city. Additionally a composting plant converts 8% of waste into compost.
In general, the governance over the Waste Management in Lahore is hardly present. Though there are current projects and plans taking place, by the Lahore Waste Management Company for example, in order to achieve a productive and sustainable system in the city it is necessary for all service providers (formal, private, and informal) to take part in decisions and actions.
Current Activities and Projects
According to the United Nations Environment Program, there are six current activities and plans taking place towards an efficient waste management system. These current activities are as follows:
Solid Waste Management Guidelines (draft) prepared with the support of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan.
Converting waste agricultural biomass into energy/ material source – project by UNEP, IETC Japan.
North Sindh Urban Services Corporation Limited (NSUSC) – Assisting the district government in design and treatment of water supply, sanitation and solid waste management
The URBAN UNIT, Urban Sector Policy & Management Unit P & D Department, Punjab. Conducting different seminars on awareness of waste water, sanitation & solid waste management etc.
Lahore Compost (Pvt.) Ltd. only dealing with the organic waste with the cooperation of city district government Lahore, Pakistan. The company is registered as a CDM project with UNFCCC.
Different NGOs are involved at small scale for solid waste collection, and recycling.
Additionally, in November 2013 a German company, agreed to invest in the installation of a 100 megawatt power plant which generates energy from waste from Lahore. Progress is being made on the country’s first scientific waste disposal site in Lakhodair. With this in mind, the Lahore Waste Management Company considered other possible technologies for their Waste-to-Energy project. They opened up applications for international companies to hire as the official consultant for LWMC and their project. The results of the feasibility study results showed that the power plant has the potential to process 1035 tons of municipal waste daily, and generate 5.50 megawatt electricity daily.
The Way Forward
Although SWM policies do exist, the levels at which they are implemented and enforced lack as a result of the governmental institutions lacking resources and equipment. These institutions are primarily led by public sector workers and politicians who are not necessarily the most informed on waste management. For improvements in municipal solid waste management, it is necessary for experts to become involved and assist in the environmental governance.
Due to the multiple factors contributing to the solid waste accumulation, the problem has become so large it is beyond the capacity of municipalities. The former director of the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Dr. Mirza Arshad Ali Beg, stated, “The highly mismanaged municipal solid waste disposal system in Pakistan cannot be attributed to the absence of an appropriate technology for disposal but to the fact that the system has a lot of responsibility but no authority.” Laws and enforcement need to be revised and implemented. The responsibility for future change is in the hands of both the government, and the citizens.
Waste practices in the Pakistan need to be improved. This can start with awareness to the public of the health and environment impacts that dumped and exposed waste causes. It is imperative for the greater public to become environmentally educated, have a change in attitude and take action.
With its value skyrocketing in recent years, Bitcoin is a hot topic right now. But the value of a Bitcoin is not the only thing that is growing. In fact, Cambridge University research suggests that Bitcoin uses more electricity on a yearly basis than entire countries. Mining for cryptocurrency uses a lot of power, and requires heavy computer calculations to verify cryptocurrency transactions. According to the researchers, this consumes over 120 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually, and this power use is unlikely to fall unless the value of Bitcoin drops.
Is Bitcoin Bad for the Environment?
Many believe that cryptocurrency is the currency of the future, but is it bad for the environment? Will Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies undo the hard work that has been put in around the world so far to improve the condition and health of the planet? According to some critics, Tesla’s decision to make heavy investments in Bitcoin undermines the environmental image displayed by the electric car company.
The rising price of Bitcoin offers even more incentive to miners to run even more machines and consume more power. As the value of Bitcoin increases, so does the energy consumption that is used to mine it, according to researchers at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.
Exactly How Much Energy Does Bitcoin Consume?
How much energy is consumed due to the increasing popularity of cryptocurrency trading? According to the online tool developed by the Cambridge researchers, Bitcoin’s electricity consumption is currently ranked above several countries including Argentina, the Netherlands, and the United Arab Emirates. It’s using a very similar amount of energy to the amount that Norway uses on a yearly basis.
In the UK, the energy that Bitcoin uses could be used to power all the electric kettles in the country for almost three decades. However, in comparison, the amount of electricity that is consumed on a yearly basis by devices that are left switched on but inactive in homes around the US could power the entire Bitcoin network for a full year.
How is Bitcoin Mined?
Mining Bitcoin requires often specialized computers which are connected to the cryptocurrency network. They are used to verify transactions by people who sell or purchase Bitcoin. As part of the process, Bitcoin miners are required to solve puzzles that are not integral to providing verification, but ensure that there is a hurdle to cross to ensure that the global record of all Bitcoin transactions is not edited fraudulently. As a reward for completing these, Bitcoin miners will occasionally receive small amounts of Bitcoin.
Higher prices have increased the value of these rewards, and fueled wider interest in buying and selling crypto via increasingly diverse methods beyond using exchanges. At the same time, some miners have expanded their networks to consist of multiple computers. Some will even set up entire warehouses of computers that are there for mining Bitcoin alone. Since the computers are working to solve the puzzles on a constant basis, this uses a huge amount of electricity.
While Bitcoin is becoming more and more popular as an alternative currency and investment option around the world, how efficient is it really?
Entrepreneurship in solid waste management can be instrumental in environment protection, decentralization, economic restructuring and job creation. Entrepreneurial opportunities in solid waste planning are available in the areas of waste collection, waste handling, waste sorting, waste storage, waste transport, waste transformation and energy recovery from waste.
Entrepreneurship begins with the generation of an idea and culminates in realization of the project objectives. Historically, the improvement of waste management services by the public sector has been hampered by lack of funds in both developed and developing nations.
Waste materials destined to be processed to generate electricity
Entrepreneurs can not only invest money in solid waste management sector, but also infuse new ideas, technologies and skills which can transform waste from being a liability into an asset. The efficiency of solid waste management increases with the involvement of entrepreneurs. Infact, it has been observed that involvement of entrepreneurs in solid waste management planning can reduce the service cost by half in Latin American cities with higher employment generation and vehicles productivity.
Entrepreneurial ventures in solid waste management can range from a one-man project to a mega-scale project involving thousands of skilled and unskilled workers. It has been observed that solid waste management is a labour-intensive process with tremendous potential to generate new jobs, depending on the type of project and the level of creativity. The major areas of entrepreneurial involvement include waste collection, transportation, reuse and recycling, upcycling and power generation.
Basic safety equipment is essential to minimize health risks to informal recycling sector.
According to the World Bank, municipalities in developing countries typically spend 20 to 50 per cent of their annual budget on solid waste management, but only 40 to 70 per cent of solid waste is collected and less than 50 per cent of the population has access to municipal waste collection services.
Solid waste planning is an integral component of urban development as it contributes to public health, resource conservation and environment protection. Scientific disposal of domestic waste can prevent environmental degradation and harmful public health impacts while recycling can help in conservation of precious natural resources and energy.
Entrepreneurial activities in solid waste collection can not only increase waste collection efficiency but also improve waste management services for the marginalized sections of the society. An excellent example is the case of Nigeria-based Wecyclers which is aiming to building a low-cost waste collection infrastructure in Lagos by offering cheap and convenient domestic waste recycling services using a fleet of cargo bikes.
Second-generation biofuels, also known as advanced biofuels, primarily includes cellulosic ethanol. The resource base for the production of second-generation biofuel are non-edible lignocellulosic biomass resources (such as leaves, stem and husk) which do not compete with food resources. The resource base for second-generation biofuels production is broadly divided into three categories – agricultural residues, forestry wastes and energy crops.
Agricultural residues encompasses all agricultural wastes such as straw, stem, stalk, leaves, husk, shell, peel, pulp, stubble, etc. which come from cereals (rice, wheat, maize or corn, sorghum, barley, millet), cotton, groundnut, jute, legumes (tomato, bean, soy) coffee, cacao, tea, fruits (banana, mango, coco, cashew) and palm oil.
Rice produces both straw and rice husks at the processing plant which can be conveniently and easily converted into energy. Significant quantities of biomass remain in the fields in the form of cob when maize is harvested which can be converted into energy.
Sugarcane harvesting leads to harvest residues in the fields while processing produces fibrous bagasse, both of which are good sources of energy. Harvesting and processing of coconuts produces quantities of shell and fibre that can be utilised while peanuts leave shells. All these lignocellulosic materials can be converted into biofuels by a wide range of technologies.
Forest harvesting is a major source of biomass energy. Harvesting in forests may occur as thinning in young stands, or cutting in older stands for timber or pulp that also yields tops and branches usable for production of cellulosic ethanol.
Biomass harvesting operations usually remove only 25 to 50 percent of the volume, leaving the residues available as biomass for energy. Stands damaged by insects, disease or fire are additional sources of biomass. Forest residues normally have low density and fuel values that keep transport costs high, and so it is economical to reduce the biomass density in the forest itself.
Energy crops are non-food crops which provide an additional potential source of feedstock for the production of second-generation biofuels. Corn and soybeans are considered as the first-generation energy crops as these crops can be also used as the food crops. Second-generation energy crops are grouped into grassy (herbaceous or forage) and woody (tree) energy crops.
Grassy energy crops or perennial forage crops mainly include switchgrass and miscanthus. Switchgrass is the most commonly used feedstock because it requires relatively low water and nutrients, and has positive environmental impact and adaptability to low-quality land. Miscanthus is a grass mainly found in Asia and is a popular feedstock for second-generation biofuel production in Europe.
Woody energy crops mainly consists of fast-growing tree species like poplar, willow, and eucalyptus. The most important attributes of these class species are the low level of input required when compared with annual crops. In short, dedicated energy crops as feedstock are less demanding in terms of input, helpful in reducing soil erosion and useful in improving soil properties.
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