Circular Economy: Viewpoint of Plastic

Pieces of plastic have been trying to get our attention. The first scientific reports of plastic pollution in oceans were in the early 1970s. This waste plastic soaks up other pollutants at up to a million times the concentration in water, harming and killing sea life worldwide. From the point of view of the plastic, we have convincingly failed with solutions. Over the past 40 years the problem has grown around 100 times, with now over 8 million tonnes of plastic waste added to oceans per year.

plastic-bottle

Everyone is aware about ways for plastic to not become waste. We can set up redesign, sharing, refill, recycling and even composting. When it comes to creating practical possibilities for not making waste, people are super smart. But when it comes to making policy to install this practice throughout the economy, which has been the aim of circular economy for the past four decades, we’re consistently collectively stupid. I call this mob thinking.

We have intelligent activists, business people, experts and officials unintentionally thinking like a mob? always bringing forward the same decades old policy weapons. When these weapons don’t work there is a discussion about strategy but not any actual new strategy, just talk about how forcefully to use the same old policy weapons. This is how it’s been possible for waste management, waste regulation and the unsolved waste problem to all grow in tandem for so long.

plastic-pollution-marine-life

The stomach and intestines of sperm whale was filled with 29 kg of garbage

If the piece of plastic had a voice in the circular economy debate what might it say? It would remind us to beware mob thinking. Today’s problems are solvable only by trying new thinking and new policy weapons. Precycling is an example. The piece of plastic doesn’t mind whether it’s part of a product that’s longlife or refilled or shared or refurbished or recycled or even composted (so long as it’s fully biodegradable). It doesn’t even mind being called ‘waste’ so long as it’s on its way to a new use. Action that ensures any of these is precycling.

Our piece of plastic does mind about ending up as ecosystem waste. It does not wish to join 5 trillion other pieces of plastic abandoned in the world’s oceans. It would be horrified to poison a fish or starve a sea bird. Equally it does not want to be perpetually entombed in a landfill dump or transformed into climate destabilising greenhouse gases by incineration.

plastic-pollution-manila

The two possible outcomes for a piece of plastic, remaining as a resource or being dumped as ecological waste, are the same fates awaiting every product. Our economies and our futures depend on our ambition in arranging the right outcome. The old policy weapons of prescriptive targets and taxes, trying to force more of one waste management outcome or less of another, are largely obsolete.

Circular economy can be fully and quickly implemented by policy to make markets financially responsible for the risk of products becoming ecological waste. Some ever hopeful pieces of plastic would be grateful if we would get on with doing this.

Reference: Governments Going Circular best practice case study of precycling premiums

The Troubling Trend of Greenwashing

Greenwashing, also known as green sheen, is a troubling trend that deceives consumers into thinking what they’re purchasing is sustainable or eco-friendly when the opposite is true. With climate change gaining attention, most people are trying to be more conscious of their environmental impact.

Read on for information on how to measure sustainability, in what ways we can fall victim to greenwashing, and how to avoid it.

how to avoid greenwashing

Measuring Sustainability

Measuring how sustainable something or someone is can be challenging. It’s necessary to use quantitative methods to measure indicators of sustainability, including social, environmental, and economic factors. ESG (Environmental Social Governance) has created a framework in which sustainability’s defined and measured. It’s a holistic approach in which every aspect is taken into consideration. This is a great way of creating a standardized framework to deal with the complexities of measuring sustainability.

Falling Victim to Greenwashing

It’s easy to fall victim to greenwashing in all aspects of life. This can range from the car you drive, the clothes you buy, and even the way you drink.

The fast fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, after the oil industry. The impact fast fashion has on the planet is destructive. However, brands such as Monki claim their clothes are environmentally friendly, when in fact, they are not.

Another greenwashing example is buying a brand new electric car instead of carrying on with your well-used car. With claims of having low emissions and being eco-friendly, it’s easy for consumers to buy into this trend. However, there’s little thought given to the pollution caused at the factory when these cars are made or even the air miles used in transporting a car across the world.

If you don’t yet feel like a victim of greenwashing, consider your kitchen cupboards. How many reusable water bottles do you own? The idea of using a reusable water bottle is that it’s only necessary to own one. However, most people own a handful of bottles.

Companies have realized and grown with the concept of people no longer wanting single-use plastics. In this way, they have developed a need for consumers to continue buying their brand in the name of being “eco-friendly.” For example, they need to have a variety of sizes and various materials from glass to stainless steel. This is to continue to stay relevant and have the customer come back to buy the brand again. This is a classic example of falling victim to greenwashing.

green entrepreneurship

How To Avoid Greenwashing

Greenwashing’s very difficult to avoid. As discussed, it’s easy to fall victim to something if you think you’re doing the right thing. Here are some ways to try and avoid it:

  • Only buy what you need: this is the easiest way to make sure you don’t consume more than you need to and the quickest and easiest way to avoid buying into greenwashing.
  • Remember, style is eternal: It’s easy to get caught up in the latest fashion fads. Remember that key pieces last forever and if it’s a trend – be sure to avoid it. If you’re in doubt, ask a friend to borrow their clothes or buy the item second-hand.
  • Be wary of buzzwords: if something is surrounded by nature and greenery, look for more details and be aware of the fact the company’s trying to highlight how eco-friendly it is.

Overall, remember to question where things are coming from and be more mindful of the choices you make. While it’s difficult to measure sustainability, it’s easy to try and live a more eco-conscious lifestyle.

3 Ways to Effectively Manage Your Medical Waste

All of the items that are used in healthcare must be disposed of correctly in a way that is environmentally safe and also responsible. This includes syringes, needles, and expired pills.

There are a lot of used syringes, dirty needles, pharmaceutical waste such as expired or contaminated drugs, and even infectious waste such as blood, used dressings, and bacterial cultures. Of course, all these things pose massive health and contamination risks and if they’re not disposed of properly, they can lead to even bigger health and environmental risks.

healthcare-waste-india

Luckily, we have some information that will undoubtedly help you. Here are three effective ways to manage your medical waste.

1. Correct disposal

Correct disposal means everything when it comes to keeping our environment safe and healthy, which is our priority. Before items are disposed of, they must go through a thorough treatment process to minimise health threats and reduce damage to our environment.

The terms of treatment realistically depend on the facilities, but the most common terms of medical waste treatment are:

  • Steam sterilisation: A great decontamination method that is simple but highly effective. Pressurised steam operates at a high temperature and kills off microorganisms.
  • Mechanical treatment: Grinding/shredding.
  • Chemical treatment: The use of disinfectants.

It is of the utmost importance that all staff are educated on the significance of disposal of medical waste correctly.

2. Develop a plan

Developing a plan could be considered one of the most important things when it comes to the management of medical waste. Every great facility will have an effective and proper plan in place regarding the management of their medical waste. The responsibilities and roles of each member as well as the waste management plan should be laid out as soon as possible with hospitals and will usually be the first thing you learn.

biomedical-waste

It is also of great importance that every staff member understands knows how much waste is generated and to what extent it does or does not fluctuate. It is up to the hospital to effectively teach this to their staff.

3. Introduce reusable items

Surprisingly, one of the worst ways to deal with waste items is to dispose of them. The most effective way to avoid waste is to not produce it in the first place. Understandably, waste is unavoidable in some circumstances, however, where possible it should be avoided.

A big way to make a change is to make the switch to reusable products where it is possible. Opting for greener alternatives could make the biggest difference to the environment and hospitals themselves. It is insanely easy to use reusable items in hospitals and it will be a godsend to the environment should hospitals consider reusable items.

In some cases, hospitals already use reusable products but for the sake of patient safety, some things just simply can’t be reusable. For example, any sharps containers and some specific medical instruments can actually be reusable! They will simply need to be sanitised and disinfected before/after each use and voila!

Before buying a product, it is always a good idea to check if it may be reusable. This will not only save money, but it will also save medical waste.

It is important to take care when disposing of your medical waste, see how to do it here.

Role of Environmental Engineering in Continuous Environmental Improvement

Learn more from here to see how the world has changed over the years. Obviously, the world is developing at a rapid pace. Infrastructures are built day by day to meet the demands of a fast-changing and evolving world. Every single day gives birth to a new technological advancement.

Unfortunately, as industries become technologically advanced and globally competitive, they forget about the environment. As companies join in the rat race, they focus more on the competition for being the best. However, they fail to pay close attention to the environmental damage they incur along the process.

As the environment greatly suffers from these companies’ negligence and irresponsibility, environmental engineering is in place to solve the damages. Different systems and processes are in place to counter the harmful effects of pollution brought about by factories, plants, manufacturing complexes and the likes.

environmental-engineers

Learn more from here to know what Environmental Engineering is all about

What is Environmental Engineering?

According to Live Science, Environmental Engineering is a branch of engineering which mainly deals with protection of people from dangerous environmental effects. These effects are contributed by pollution which decreases environmental quality altogether.

Environmental Engineering is especially omnipresent and essential especially in developing countries with poor sanitation and garbage disposal. As such, environmental engineering also contributes to the overall health and safety conditions of an entire population. With proper sanitation and waste disposal treatment, people somehow live a more conducive and safer lives.

modern-waste-disposal

AI-based waste management systems can help in route optimization and waste disposal

With the help of environmental engineers, proper waste disposal and recycling initiatives are reinforced. They are also in charge of public health and water and air pollution control. They ensure that pollution levels are in check. They do so by constantly formulating environmental strategies and processes which take thorough testing before implementation.

What are the benefits of Environmental Engineering?

Aside from the improvement of health and safety conditions of people, environmental engineering significantly helps in controlling climate change. According to Environmental Science, Environmental Engineering also deals with the potential effects of climate change and other environmental infrastructure factors.

As per AECOM, Environmental engineering makes use of analytical skills to provide strategic direction particularly for sustainability initiatives. Such initiatives deal with low-carbon generation of energy. Environmental engineering also paves the way for development of new technologies to minimise carbon footprint.

With the help of environmental engineers, they develop solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells. These tools aim to increase the efficiency of manufacturing. With better use of alternative energy sources, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions are reduced.

ecofriendly-manufacturing

 

What is the future of Environmental Engineering?

With the help of engineers, environmental engineering shall continue to aid in continuous environmental improvement. Different environmental engineering companies also painstakingly improve their offered services to improve the following:

  • Garbage disposal
  • Water treatment
  • Energy efficiency
  • Use of alternative energy sources
  • Reduction of emissions with solvents
  • Process survey and evaluations

As Environmental Engineering improves these services one step at a time, people are guaranteed a better quality of life. New scientific discoveries pave the way to further the improvement of different environmental processes in place. Engineers are quick to adapt to changes, especially those that are geared towards improving the environment.

Is Environmental Engineering the answer to environmental decline?

The environment has significantly been damaged as one gets to learn more from here. Environmental Engineering takes the cue from this obvious problem. Thanks to the tireless work of experts and practitioners, we are assured that something is always brewing to make things right.

However, it is important to note that no matter what advances are in place, the environment shall continue to deteriorate if discipline is not practiced. Think of Environmental Engineering as delaying the effects. It is not the solution to the worsening global environmental condition. It all depends on the discipline, commitment and environmental awareness of each and every citizen of this planet.

How to Make Your Home Office More Eco-Friendly

In a time where a lot of people have been forced to work from home, it has been necessary to create workstations and offices at our own residences. Many employers and employees have found the solution beneficial, and we will probably see a bigger part of the workforce working from home in the future. In a world with climate changes, you can also do your part to help bring down the use of the earth’s resources while sitting on your own office chair.

How to Make Your Home Office More Eco-Friendly

1. Use software not paper

Instead of printing and archiving paper in old boxes in your attic, you should use a cloud service. A cloud service can back up all your documents and make sure that they will be kept forever.

There are several ways to use software for a more sustainable home office. Whether it’s cloud service, time management, customer contact, or it-management software that you need, there is a solution for you. However, it can be hard to find the right software. If you don’t know which program you should go for, you can get some help at https://www.saasgenius.com/.

2. Use a laptop

Those big computers use a lot of power and today most work can be done from a laptop without compromising the computer’s power output. If you already use a laptop, you can turn off the charger when it’s fully charged and use the computer’s battery. Remember to switch off your electronic devices when not in use such as your printer and your computer when going for a break.

 

You might want to check out if you can get a cheaper energy provider, which is one of our tips in 12 Ways Small Businesses Can Save Energy.

3. Work during the day

Nothing beats natural daylight so you should of course work during the day. Getting that vitamin D has several advantages and it will help you to get through the day without getting tired early on. Place your workspace close to a window so you can enjoy the sunbeams while working.

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to work when the sun is out, so if you need a little lamp stand make sure that the light bulb is energy-saving or even better, make use of solar lamps.

Energy-Saving Tips for Small Businesses

4. Use sustainable materials and furniture

If you are about to install a new home office, you can look at the materials that you use to furnish the room. When building yourself you should make sure that you are using sustainable materials. Reclaimed wood has a nice look to it and keeps your conscience clean.

If you are buying other materials, you can make sure that they are produced in-country, so the CO2 emission has been minimal during the transportation. If you are not a big handyman yourself, you can also buy second hand furniture. By doing that you can keep the costs down while staying eco-friendly.

5. Reduce waste

Sometimes it will be impossible not to use paper for printing, but when you do use it the right way. You can use recycled paper and printers that are not as ink-consuming. Nowadays it is possible to buy a printer with disappearing ink. This means that you can use the same piece of paper over and over again as the ink disappears over time.

a paper free office

During a long day’s work, it is also advisable to remember to drink water. Just remember to use a reusable drinking bottle, so we can reduce plastic waste and make the world a greener place.

Top Reasons to Convert to LED Lighting

LED Lighting has been in the news quite frequently recently, mostly because it offers a more cost-effective alternative to traditional lighting. If you’ve heard the talk, but are wondering why LED lighting is trending or you’re considering a plan to convert to LED lighting, you may wonder if it’s worth all the hype. Here are the top reasons why converting to LED lighting just makes sense.

Reasons to Convert to LED Lighting

1. Save Money

The most obvious reason why people are converting to LED lighting is that doing so saves them money. Not only do they use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, but they also last up to 25 times longer as well. This means that you’re paying less for the energy required to light your home or office and you’re buying fewer bulbs over time. If you don’t like any other reason on this list for converting to LED lighting, saving money is reason enough to do it.

2. Better Technology

LED lights have better technology than incandescent bulbs, which means they’re significantly more efficient. LED lights emit light in one direction, so you can light up a specific area much more easily than with an incandescent bulb that emits light in many directions. You also will limit your need for reflectors and diffusers, particularly if you’re using light to illuminate a specific space. LED lights are perfect for hobbyists who need to direct light immediately in front of them.

3. Safety

Safety is another major reason why people convert to LED lighting, especially parents. LED lights do not emit nearly as much heat as incandescent bulbs, so the risk of burns is almost nonexistent. Additionally, they aren’t going to light anything around them on fire because of their heat, so you can have LED lights near curtains or other fabrics and not worry about them being a fire hazard.

4. Eco-Friendly

Since LED lights use up to 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, they’re better for the environment. Much of the electricity produced in the world today originates from fossil fuels, which are limited in supply. We need to protect our fossil fuel reserves as much as possible, so using less energy is a critical step toward healing the planet.

5. Better Lighting

When compared with fluorescent lighting, LED lights are much less harsh on the eyes, but they provide the same amount of light or even more. You can actually use fewer LED lights than fluorescent lights to produce the same or better lighting effects. Plus, you’ll get no annoying hum either.

energy efficient home

6. Possible Rebates

In addition to saving money in energy and bulb replacement costs, you may also get a rebate from your utility company or local government for converting to LED lighting. These entities have a stake in reducing the amount of energy you use, so they sometimes offer money back for taking steps to reduce your energy consumption.

Conclusion

There are few downsides to converting to LED lighting. In fact, you will see the benefits of converting almost immediately with better lighting and increased safety. The money savings will come a little later, but once it does, you’ll wonder why you didn’t convert earlier.

5 Eco-Friendly Home Decor Ideas

Global warming is one of the most discussed issues of the present times. Our planet is facing a crisis, and hence, we are all in the midst of danger. However, we have not reached the dead-end yet. So, there is so much that we can still do to save mother earth. The individual efforts count the most and can go a long way if everyone decides to play their part.

If you are a creative person who wants to decorate their home while trying to maintain a sustainable lifestyle, you would have noticed how most ways to decorate a house have a big carbon footprint. Don’t worry, you do not have to give up home decor to care for the environment. The following are some eco-friendly decor ideas that are sure to fetch you a ton of compliments on your aesthetic and mindful approach towards the environment.

green-decor-tips

Inculcate Houseplants

Who does not love greenery? It is the best way to stay close to nature while staying indoors. In the modern lifestyle, our living spaces are becoming more cramped than ever. Plus, not everyone is lucky enough to have a green bed of twenty-five cubic yards. However, that does not mean that you have to live without a touch of nature.

The easiest way to do so is by cultivating houseplants. It can be done pretty much anywhere and placing them in gorgeous bottles and containers can amplify the appeal. If you plan on adding a lot of houseplants, make sure to get high-quality glass containers from a trusted glass bottles manufacturer.

Go Vintage

The old school décor has been making rounds again. So, this is the perfect time to go thrifting and to rummage through your grandma’s stuff. It is one of the best and responsible ways to save money and to recycle old, discarded things lying in your home.

So, to start with, make use of those vintage suitcases that we all have in our attics. Dust them off and with the help of a little DIY, you can turn them into a table. Attach wooden dowels to the painted suitcase to turn it into a side-table. The fact that you did not have to buy anything new, and didn’t use any fuel to go to the supermarket, gives this DIY a small carbon footprint.

Make Use of Old Textbooks

When you are in the process of redecorating your space, it sounds quite tempting to get rid of everything that has not served you its purpose in years. But do not throw away your old textbooks. Use them to your advantage because there are plenty of DIYs that you can do.

decor-from-old-books

For instance, renew your old lamp by pasting some old pages on your lampshade and stack some books under it. Remember, recycling is the first step to ensuring that you do not produce a lot of waste that is harmful to the environment. So, let your creative side shine and up-cycle old items and turn them into decorations.

Make Your Own Scented Candles

Scent and fragrance have been serving us for ages. When your environment smells great, it gives a sudden uplift to your mood. There is nothing better than coming home after a long day, lighting a candle, and feeling the stresses of the day melt away.

But instead of buying your candles or investing in expensive air freshener dispensers, you can make your own scented candles at home. The following are the supplies that you will need for this:

  • A jar
  • Candle Wick
  • Soy Wax
  • Scissors
  • Spoon
  • Measuring Cup
  • Any essential oil

Instructions

  • Measure the wax according to your jar size.
  • Melt it and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.
  • Hold the candle wick into the jar and carefully pour the melted wax.
  • Wait for the wax to become solid and cut the extra wick that is sticking out.
  • Voila! You have your own organic candle!

Invest in LED Lighting

The idea may sound a little intimidating if you look at the cost but there is nothing that pays off like LED Lighting. The traditional lighting system is a huge source of energy waste, not to mention the massive power that they consume. So, it is an excellent decision to invest in LED lighting and ensure that you are not hurting the environment. So, accessorize your home with some elegant LED Lights, that are not just reliable but also completely eco-friendly.

indoor-gardening-grow-lights

Conclusion

It is truly a domineering task to redecorate your home and to bring novelty to your creativity. To top it all, there is this added pressure of being environmentally responsible. However, if you are determined to contribute to your planet, now is the right time. For starters, just staying conscious about the waste and resources will eventually become your second nature. And soon, you would not have to think twice before taking on a task as daunting as eco-friendly home décor.

Plastic Packaging Waste in the Philippines: An Analysis

I recently took a 5-month break from my work as an environmental consultant to volunteer with Marine Conservation Philippines (MCP) on the issue of marine litter. During the first few months of my stint there, we undertook an intense programme of beach cleans across sections of a small sample of local beaches. The idea was to find out what kinds of material were most prevalent, to inform the types of local initiative we could set up to try and tackle the issues.

Consistently, the vast majority of the debris we found strewn across the beaches across the Philippines was plastic; a significant amount of that was soft plastics which can’t be recycled – plastic bags, sweet and crisp packets, and single use soap and detergent sachets. There were some variations, though: at one beach, we kept picking up a staggering amount of styrofoam.

During our beach clean work and engagement with local communities, it became increasingly apparent that part of the problem was the variability of waste management across the municipality of Zamboanguita, in the Negros Oriental province of the Philippines.

Despite national legislation, some areas received no formal waste collections at all. With the help of the local Coastal Resources Manager, Tony Yocor, we began to engage with the local municipality’s Solid Waste Manager with the view to supporting appropriate an affordable waste management practices.

We focused on solutions that have been successful elsewhere in the Philippines and in other emerging markets, such as the local collection and waste sorting approach developed by Mother Earth Foundation. Unfortunately, as with most places in the world, influencing the authorities to act takes time, and whilst we started to make some progress, Tony and the staff at MCP are still working on trying to get the full range of local solutions we identified implemented.

Materials and markets

We did, however, build our own ‘MRF’ (more of a community recycling centre in UK terms) at MCP’s base to improve the management of the waste we collected. The main aim of the site is to allow as many recyclable materials as possible to be segregated so that they can be sold to the local junk shops. We also hope that this can act as a demonstration site for the types of simple solutions that can be set up locally to improve waste management.

But ultimately, if we are serious about tackling this issue of marine debris, we have to reduce the amount of litter we produce, and many countries are making progress on tackling commonly littered items. Restrictions on single use carrier bags are amongst the most prominent and widespread anti-littering measures around the world.

England’s 5p carrier bag levy was introduced in 2015 and, despite its limitations, is reducing bag usage and (it would seem) marine litter. Last year Kenya hit the headlines when it joined the growing list of countries adopting a rather stricter line: it banned plastic carrier bags entirely, with offenders risking heavy fines or even imprisonment.

Although bans and restrictions are becoming increasingly widespread, they have not yet reached the Philippines at a national level and it seems no coincidence that a large proportion of the items we found littered on our sample beaches around Zamboanguita were plastic bags. One beach, close to where the largest ‘ghetto’ market is held weekly, had a particularly high incidence of plastic bag litter, and the quantity increased noticeably on, and just after, market day. Use wholesale tote bags to promote sustainable living in the Philippines.

Without national instruments in place, we explored what could be done with the policy powers available to the local government. Working with the local Markets Officer and Coastal Resources Manager we put the wheels in motion to propose and implement a local ordinance to introduce a charge on plastic bags, initially at the market as a trial, with the potential for a wider roll-out if successful. It’s a model that could be reapplied elsewhere in the Philippines if national legislation isn’t forthcoming.

Sachet and sea?

Plastic bags are a challenge, but because they’re distributed locally it’s relatively easy to change practices. Other forms of single use packaging contribute just as much to the litter problem afflicting many South East Asian counties, but are harder to tackle because their source is more remote.

The Philippines, like many developing and emerging economies, is a ‘sachet economy’, with a huge range of products sold in one-portion, single-use sachets. You see them everywhere, from small ‘sari sari’ stalls to large shopping centres. The producers’ perspective is that this form of packaging represents a form of social responsibility, allowing them to provide safe, long-lasting, affordable products that meet people’s needs. However, they have a wider cost.

Sachet society: one of the most common forms of litter in the Philippines. Photo courtesy of Amy Slack.

I was involved in Break Free from Plastic Negros Oriental’s December beach clean and audit, and these sachets were the most common item we found. They accounted for a massive 25% of the items picked up from Dumaguete beach, beating plastic bags into second place (13%).

The waste management system in the Philippines simply isn’t geared up to dealing with this increasingly popular type of packaging – the composite materials of which they are made are impractical to recycle and so lack the economic value that engages the interest of the informal sector. So, what could be done to help?

The Best Foot Forward

There is no ‘silver bullet’ to instantly lay marine litter to rest. Even if there was a global ban on single use plastics today, it would take time for already littered material to blow or wash its way through the system.

However, introducing a compulsory extended producer responsibility (EPR) mechanism into policy could help end the blame game that currently impedes action: producers blame the general public for littering, the general public blame the government for inadequate waste systems, and government blames produces for manufacturing plastic packaging.

An EPR scheme would see government giving clear responsibilities to business, and ensuring that producers fund collection and reprocessing schemes to properly manage the waste from the products they sell in the Philippines. That would in turn incentivise producers to use more easily recyclable packaging, as the costs of managing this material would be lower.

The goal need not be to try to ape the waste management systems of the West, which may not be suitable in the circumstances. And in the Philippines, where labour is cheap and informal waste management thrives, it may take little more than giving a small value to packaging products to greatly reduce the amount of material that escapes into the environment.

Conclusion

Although countries like the Philippines currently struggle most to cope with the consequences of plastic packaging waste, with the right set of policies and determined volunteers to help organise local action, there is scope for them to catch up and overhaul the West in developing solutions that really do reduce litter.

Note: The article has been republished with the permission of our collaborative partner Isonomia. The original version of the article can be found at this link

Plastic Wastes and Role of EPR

In just a few decades plastics have become omnipresent in our society. But, unfortunately, the consequences of their use last far beyond their useful lifetime. Everyone is aware of their overwhelming dispersion in our landscapes. The situation in the oceans is not better [1]. As a reaction, a few thoughts spring to my mind.

First of all, it is clear that the industry is assuming very little responsibility, and that Public Administrations are complicit with this. Extended Producer Pesponsibility (abbreviated as EPR) only affects –and only partially– those plastics used as light packaging, in vehicles, in tyres or as part of electric and electronic equipment, not any of the others. Also, recycling levels are not sufficiently high, as a result of poor separate collection systems and inefficient treatment facilities. As a consequence, society has to face not only the problems created by those materials which are not recycled, but also has to assume a high share of the costs of managing them as waste.

Secondly, it illustrates the importance of the quality of the materials that we aim to recycle, and thus the importance of separate waste collection; for all materials, but particularly for biowaste. Although most composting and anaerobic digestion facilities have the capacity to separate some of the impurities (of which around 40% can be plastics), this separation is far from perfect.

Two recent studies confirm that the quality of compost is influenced by the presence of impurities in biowaste [2] and that, in turn, the presence of impurities is influenced by several factors [3], among which particularly the type of separate collection scheme, door to door separate collection models being those presenting better results.

Thirdly, it makes clear the urgency to adopt measures that address the root of the problem. High quality separate collection and sound waste treatment are necessary, and allow enormous room for improvement, but they are end-of-pipe solutions. It is also important to promote greener consumption patterns through environmental awareness campaigns, but this is not enough either.

We have to address the problem where it is created. And this requires measures of higher impact, such as taxes on certain products (e.g. disposable ones) or on certain materials, compulsory consideration of eco-design criteria, generalisation of the extended producer responsibility or prohibition of certain plastics (e.g. oxo-degradable ones) or of certain uses (e.g. microplastic beads in cosmetics).

glitter-plastic-pollution

One can think that these measures are a bit too hard, but honestly, after wandering around beaches and mountains, and finding plastics absolutely everywhere, I am bit disappointed with the outcome of soft solutions.

On 16th January 2018 the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy was adopted [4]. A number of measures will need to be applied by the European Union (listed in Annex I of the Strategy), by Member States and by the industry (Annex II), but also by Regional Governments and Local Authorities. No doubt that implementing the Strategy will bring about significant advances, but only time will say if it is sufficient to address the huge challenge we face.

The European Union has also recently adopted the much-awaited Directive 2019/904 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment [5], which introduces several bans and restrictions on different uses and materials. This is indeed a huge step, which needs to be followed by others, both in Europe, but also elsewhere, as this is truly a global challenge.

Note: An earlier version of this article was published in February 2018: https://mailchi.mp/db1fd794d528/sent-11-april-2018

References

[1] See for example: https://tinyurl.com/yxra3cod

[2] Campos Rodrigues, L., Puig Ventosa, I., López, M., Martínez, X. (2016) Anàlisi de la incidència dels impropis de la FORM sobre la qualitat del compost de les plantes de compostatge de Catalunya https://tinyurl.com/y37ncton

[3] Puig-Ventosa, I., Freire-González, J., Jofra-Sora, M. (2013) Determining factors for the presence of impurities in selectively collected biowaste, Waste Management and Research, 31: 510-517.

[4] The strategy and several accompanying documents can be found in this portal: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/plastic_waste.htm

[5] Directive 2019/904 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment.

Pros and Cons of a Solar Powered Generator

The solar-powered generator industry is slowly but gradually expanding. Solar-powered all-in-one portable stations are a modern substitute for traditional fuel-powered generators.

A solar generator is a fantastic way to have additional energy available whenever the light goes out. Whether you need to charge your devices, turn the lights on, or go to a place with no electricity available.

There is a continuous debate on whether these solar-powered generators are superior to traditional generators. In this post, we will examine the pros and cons of solar generators to help you decide whether it is a good option for you or not. But, before we get into it, what exactly is a solar-powered generator?

Pros and Cons of a Solar Powered Generator

What is a Solar Powered Generator

The term “solar generator” is misleading. Solar generators are frequently rechargeable batteries that may be powered by using a solar panel.

The operation of a solar generator differs significantly from that of a normal generator powered by fossil fuel. They have certain technical specifications and very different mechanisms.

A solar generator’s basic configuration includes a rechargeable battery, a solar charger, an inverter, and single or multiple solar panels. Energy is captured through the solar panels, and the solar charger then sends it to the rechargeable battery. Finally, the inverter transforms the DC power into an Ac power supply.

Pros of a Solar Powered Generator

1. Unlimited Solar Energy

Because the sun’s energy is almost unlimited and virtually free of charge, solar panels allow you to access a boundless energy supply. However, it is not entirely free because solar power equipment must first be purchased.

In addition, as compared to diesel or gasoline, solar energy is far more commonly accessible in most distant places. As long as the sun shines, you can never face a shortage of solar energy.

And what to do when the sun goes down? As previously stated, solar-powered generators usually have all-in-one power stations, which means you can also charge it through other sources. Aside from solar energy, the primary power sources are conventional alternating current (AC) energy from a wall outlet or by a vehicle through the CIG connection.

2. Low Running Expenses

Another economic benefit of solar energy is that it is not susceptible to dramatic price changes like diesel or gasoline. Once you’ve purchased the solar power system, your ‘fuel’ expenses will be consistent.

A solar generator has very low operating expenses than a portable generator fueled by gasoline. You do not need to purchase fuel because solar energy is free to absorb, and you do not need to change any oil.

solar battery storage

The absence of moving components also lowers the possibility of requiring replacement or repair for the spare parts. So, while solar generators require a larger initial cost, their operating expenses are lower than conventional portable generators powered by fuel.

3. Eco-Friendly Alternative

The traditional gasoline-powered generator emits toxic fumes containing carbon monoxide, which is a severe health hazard, and that is why they should only be operated outdoors where you can keep them at a safe distance from other people and structures. Solar-powered generators emit no toxic fumes, making them the safest alternative, even suitable for interior usage.

Cons of a Solar Powered Generator

1. High Initial Cost

Solar generators are significantly more expensive to purchase than standard gas generators. Solar-powered generators, on the other hand, have significantly reduced running expenses. As a result, you will spend less money during the lifespan of your solar generator.

2. Limited Energy and Output

You can only recharge your solar-powered generator’s batteries when the sun is out. Although we do have other alternatives for charging them, it takes a lot more time than a fuel-powered generator. A standard solar generator will take almost six to eight hours to fully charge and provide a 100 watts output. As compared to that, you do not need to recharge a gas generator. You refuel them, and they are good to go!

Your energy output also depends on the size of your solar-powered generator. The size and weight restrict how much solar energy it can absorb and how much electric output it can provide you. Your solar generator cannot supply electricity to an entire house. It can be used for small appliances, charging devices, and for a limited time.

To put it simply, the weight and size of your solar generator are proportional to the amount of power it can retain. You can use a solar power generator as a compact alternative for moderate use. So, if you wish to use an output of 1500 watts or more, you should probably opt for an inverter generator as a lightweight option.

Now that you are aware of the pros and cons of solar generators, you will have a clear idea of which one to buy and whether you should buy it or not. Good luck!