Is Tire Recycling Dangerous?

Not too long ago, mountains of old tires were to be found in virtually every town and city’s landfill, and toxic tire fires that would sometimes take months to subside were a common occurrence. Today, these tire piles are a rarity, and thankfully, so are the fires that used to go with them.

scrap-tires-pyrolysis

We have largely to thank the combined initiatives of scientists, entrepreneurs, and legislators from banishing unsightly these unsightly tire piles from the landscape. Today you’re more likely to see old tires in your yoga mat or the asphalt you drive on than in ugly piles that you can see from the distance.

However, there have been questions about the widespread use of tire chips, especially in playgrounds, as mulch, and as repurposed water containers for agriculture and livestock.

These concerns are quite understandable, as we are in direct contact with tire chips when they are used in the first two applications. When used for agriculture and livestock, there seems to be a distinct and logical risk that any toxins that are released in those applications may eventually end up in our bodies.

Recycled tire products are safe for consumers

Provided that you are not the one processing the tires yourself (more on that later), there is an extremely low toxicity risk in tire chips. A typical tire chip is made from old tires, which means that they have already off-gassed much of their volatile organic compounds (VOC’s).  New tires emit a good amount of VOC’s, which you can readily detect because of the unique new tire smell.

Many of these compounds have been linked to cancer. However, decades of research and uncontrolled use of old tires in different applications through the 20th century seem to strongly indicate that unless you are actually involved in producing or processing tires, your risks are quite low due to the low dosage of chemicals a typical consumer can expect. It’s the doses that makes a chemical toxic, and in the case of old tires where most tire chips are derived, the risk is negligible.

However, working in an environment where you can actually smell the “new tire scent” constantly can be a significant risk. By analogy, a bartender will be fine if they have a drink with one customer. But if they drink with every single customer that comes by every night, they’re in serious trouble.

Recycling large volumes of tires can be problematic

Unless you constantly work with tires, the risk is quite minimal. You can and should feel free to recycle or repurpose any tires you have around your house or yard into furniture, tire swings, planters, or pet beds. However, if you’re thinking of recycling dozens of tires a week, you should reconsider, as the particulate dust from carving up or shredding old tires can also be a risk over time if you don’t have the right equipment or safety gear.

Improper tire recycling can also heighten your exposure to dangerous chemicals in the tires, especially when they are subjected to the heat of a grinder or shredder that is not specifically meant for tire recycling. This can expose you to high levels of carcinogenic VOCs without you realizing it.

If you need to safely dispose of a high volume of tires, or tires that are difficult to recycle, such as those on tractors and OTR vehicles, be sure to contact a professional recycler like Western Tire Recyclers.

Everything You Need to Know About Glow Sticks

You have probably come across glow sticks at some stage of your life, however other people refer to them as chemlights or light sticks. After you bend a glow stick, the glass inside shatters and it begins to glow.

After they begin to glow, you can expect them to be visible in the dark from 1 to 12 hours. The time of how long it glows for depends on the quality and the size of the glow stick. 

Remember, that once you have broken the glass inside and the light appears, you can’t turn it off. 

You can find glow sticks in all different types of shapes and sizes. Most are no longer than 10 inches, however some you can connect together to make longer ones. They are also available in lots of different colors, such as red, blue, yellow and orange. However, it seems both the orange and red don’t light up that well. 

disposal-of-glow-sticks

Glow sticks are very popular amongst kids and party goers, but what other purposes can you use glow sticks for?

Survival

If you are planning to go out in the wild, it is vital that you pack reliable lighting. For several years, it has been common for people to use glow sticks in a crisis situation. 

Unlike other sources of lighting, glow sticks don’t need batteries to work. Purchasing a quality glow stick will give you 12 hours of light, without having to worry about the batteries running out. 

Glow sticks are safe, so you don’t have to worry about them starting a fire nor will they electrocute somebody. They are even safe for children to play with.

Because they are small and lightweight, you will easily be able to find space when you are packing. 

Even the best quality glow sticks are cheap. If you are looking for value, purchasing glow sticks in bulk is your best option.

What Survival situations would a Glow Stick prove useful?

There are many reasons why you should pack a glow stick with your survival kit such as:

  • Helps you to read a topographic map in the dark. 
  • You can mark a trail directing others to your camp
  • Keeps large groups together: At night it is very hard to organize a lot of people, so a glow stick will prove to be a very helpful device
  • After a road accident, you can use a glow stick as a marker: Glow sticks are a great way to warn oncoming traffic that there is an accident on the roadside. If there is debris on the road or gas leaks, placing a glow stick nearby will alert others.
  • Avoid falling: If you frequently camp, you have probably tripped at some stage. Small holes, trees, and other obstacles that are not visible during the night can cause injuries. By putting a glow stick nearby will help warn others. You can also place glow sticks to mark a safe path. 
  • If it is raining or you are in the water, don’t worry as glow sticks are water-resistant and are perfect for wet environments. 

Glow sticks are used by militaries all over the globe as a survival tool. If you do decide to buy glow sticks in bulk and you pack a large amount in your survival kit, you can easily write SOS with them if you are stuck in a dangerous location.

How do you Dispose of Glow Sticks and are They Safe?

One of the disadvantages of using glow sticks is that there is no environmentally safe way that you can recycle them. As each one has chemicals inside, the plastic casing cannot be reused nor can it be repurposed. 

The reason why glow sticks produce light is that there are two main ingredients that cause a chemical reaction.

Although the casing is made of strong plastic, be careful of young children or pets chewing on the plastic. Although the chemicals are not that toxic, it is not advised to ingest them. If a child swallows some of the chemicals, make sure to rinse his or her mouth immediately. Speak to your doctor if the child has swallowed a lot. 

Click on the link for more details on how to properly disposing glow sticks.

Summary

Glow sticks have a shelf life of around 4 years, as long as it is kept in its original foil packaging. If it has been removed, you can expect it to last for 1 year. If you decide to buy in bulk, keep this in mind. If you have a large number of glow sticks and think they are out of date, test one before you throw them all away. 

Glow sticks are not just a great source of lighting, but children and families can play lots of games and have a fantastic time with them.

The Concept of Biorefinery

A biorefinery is a facility that integrates biomass conversion processes and equipment to produce fuels, power, and value-added chemicals from biomass. Biorefinery is analogous to today’s petroleum refinery, which produces multiple fuels and products from petroleum. By producing several products, a biorefinery takes advantage of the various components in biomass and their intermediates, therefore maximizing the value derived from the biomass feedstock.

A biorefinery could, for example, produce one or several low-volume, but high-value, chemical products and a low-value, but high-volume liquid transportation fuel such as biodiesel or bioethanol. At the same time, it can generate electricity and process heat, through CHP technology, for its own use and perhaps enough for sale of electricity to the local utility.

The high value products increase profitability, the high-volume fuel helps meet energy needs, and the power production helps to lower energy costs and reduce GHG emissions from traditional power plant facilities.

biorefinery-process

Biorefinery Platforms

There are several biorefinery platforms which can be employed in a biorefinery with the major ones being the sugar platform and the thermochemical platform (also known as syngas platform).

Sugar platform biorefineries breaks down biomass into different types of component sugars for fermentation or other biological processing into various fuels and chemicals. On the other hand, thermochemical biorefineries transform biomass into synthesis gas (hydrogen and carbon monoxide) or pyrolysis oil.

The thermochemical biomass conversion process is complex, and uses components, configurations, and operating conditions that are more typical of petroleum refining. Biomass is converted into syngas, and syngas is converted into an ethanol-rich mixture.

However, syngas created from biomass contains contaminants such as tar and sulphur that interfere with the conversion of the syngas into products. These contaminants can be removed by tar-reforming catalysts and catalytic reforming processes. This not only cleans the syngas, it also creates more of it, improving process economics and ultimately cutting the cost of the resulting ethanol.

Plus Points

Biorefineries can help in utilizing the optimum energy potential of organic wastes and may also resolve the problems of waste management and GHGs emissions. Biomass wastes can be converted, through appropriate enzymatic/chemical treatment, into either gaseous or liquid fuels.

The pre-treatment processes involved in biorefining generate products like paper-pulp, HFCS, solvents, acetate, resins, laminates, adhesives, flavour chemicals, activated carbon, fuel enhancers, undigested sugars etc. which generally remain untapped in the traditional processes. The suitability of this process is further enhanced from the fact that it can utilize a variety of biomass resources, whether plant-derived or animal-derived.

Future Perspectives

The concept of biomass-based refinery is still in early stages at most places in the world. Problems like raw material availability, feasibility in product supply chain, scalability of the model are hampering its development at commercial-scales. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of USA is leading the front in biorefinery research with path-breaking discoveries and inventions. 

Although the technology is still in nascent stages, but it holds the key to the optimum utilization of wastes and natural resources that humans have always tried to achieve. The onus now lies on governments and corporate sector to incentivize or finance the research and development in this highly promising field.

Is Your Commercial Cleaning Service Sustainable?

It’s becoming more evident with time that people who want to ensure any form of financial security in the future need to start their own businesses. You can’t rely on your day to day job anymore to give you that feeling of financial security, and many are starting to realize this. So, people invest their money in all sorts of ventures, but one in particular has much potential for it if you know what you’re doing: commercial cleaning services. It’s probably crossed your mind at one point or another to start one, but there’s a problem stopping you. Is it sustainable? It can be, if you do all the right things.

A huge industry

In case you didn’t know it, the cleaning services industry is a multi-billion dollar one that is growing every year, and it’s a great business to get into if you know what you’re doing. The first thing you should do is identify if you want to get into home cleaning service or commercial cleaning service. The latter naturally takes the bigger chunk of the industry as a whole since companies hire atlanta cleaning service for regularly maintaining their office spaces.

Residential cleaning is also relevant to millions of people calling services to keep their houses clean, but it definitely isn’t as big as its commercial counterpart, and that’s why you probably started your cleaning service in the commercial sector. If you are aiming to make your business sustainable, you need to do a couple of things.

Stick to your niche

So, you started a commercial cleaning service, and there’s a lot of money in it. But that doesn’t mean you should get greedy and try to get into residential services as well. Spreading yourself too thin could be the end of your business, and you don’t really need to do it because the commercial cleaning industry is more than capable of sustaining your company. Even if you hit a dry spell, don’t think about abandoning your specialty for the sake of another; instead, wait it out and things will get better for your company.

Cost VS quality balance

One of the most important things you need to do to keep your commercial cleaning service running is maintaining a balance between keeping the cost low and yet giving your customers excellent quality. You need to understand that there are dozens of others like you out there, so if your business sees a dip in quality, you’ll lose all your clients. Instead, you can cut costs by not having a large office space, for instance, or opting for older cleaning technologies, while still maintaining quality.

Invest in your people

For Wimbledon cleaning services, the most important asset is their personnel! All of the cleaning technicians are professionals who’ve gone through thorough training, allowing them to handle the great variety of cleaning solutions and to ensure the safety and satisfaction of the customers! They must always maintain professional conduct, so expect nothing but perfect results!

These are the most important points you need to tackle in order for your commercial cleaning service to be sustainable. If you can do that, the sky’s the limit for your business.

Biorefinery Prospects in India

India has a tremendous biomass potential which could easily be relied upon to fulfil most of our energy needs. An estimated 50 MMT (million metric tonnes) of liquid fuels are consumed annually in India, but with the actual biomass potential and its full utilization, India is capable of generating almost double that amount per annum. These biomass estimates only constitute the crop residues available in the country and essentially the second-generation fuels since the use of first-generation crop bases fuels in such food-starved nations is a criminal thought.

Biomass-India

Existing Technologies

Currently, there are various technologies available to process such crop residues and generate value products from them. However, essentially, they all revolve around two main kinds of processes, either biochemical or thermal.

The biochemical process involves application of aerobic/anaerobic digestion for the production of biogas; or fermentation, which results in the generation of ethanol. Both these products could be subsequently treated chemically and through trans-esterification process, leading to production of biodiesel.

Alternatively, the thermochemical processes involve either the combustion, gasification or pyrolysis techniques, which produces heat, energy-rich gas and liquid fuels respectively. These products can be used as such, or could be further processed to generate high quality biofuels or chemicals.

The Need

The estimated organized energy breakup for India is 40 percent each for domestic and transport sectors and 20 percent for the industrial sectors. The current share of crude oil and gases is nearly 90 percent for the primary and transport sectors and the remaining 10 percent for the generation of industrial chemicals.

The fluctuating prices of crude oil in the international market and the resulting concern over energy security, has lead developing nations to explore alternative and cheap sources of energy to meet the growing energy demand. One of the promising solution for agrarian economies is Biorefinery.

The Concept

Biorefinery is analogous to the traditional petroleum refineries employing fractional distillation process for obtaining different fractions or components from the same raw material, i.e. the crude oil. Biorefinery involve the integration of different biomass treatment and processing methods into one system, which results in the production of different components from the same biomass.  This makes the entire chain more viable economically and also reduces the waste generated.

Typical Model of a Biorefinery

The outcome ranges from high-volume, low-energy content liquid fuels, which could serve the transportation industry needs, to the low-volume but high-value chemicals, which could add to the feasibility of such a project.

Steam and heat generated in the process could be utilized for meeting process heat requirements. By-products like chemicals, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, polymers etc are also obtained which provide additional revenue streams.

Benefits

Biorefineries can help in utilizing the optimum energy potential of organic wastes and may also resolve the problems of waste management and GHGs emissions. Wastes can be converted, through appropriate enzymatic/chemical treatment, into either gaseous or liquid fuels.

The pre-treatment processes involved in biorefining generate products like paper-pulp, HFCS, solvents, acetate, resins, laminates, adhesives, flavour chemicals, activated carbon, fuel enhancers, undigested sugars etc. which generally remain untapped in the traditional processes. The suitability of this process is further enhanced from the fact that it can utilize a variety of biomass resources, whether plant-derived or animal-derived.

Applicability

The concept of biorefinery is still in early stages at most places in the world. Problems like raw material availability, feasibility in product supply chain, scalability of the model are hampering its development at commercial-scales. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of USA is leading the front in biorefinery research with path-breaking discoveries and inventions.

Although the technology is still in nascent stages, but it holds the key to the optimum utilization of wastes and natural resources that humans have always tried to achieve. The onus now lies on governments and corporate to incentivize or finance the research and development in this field.

Think Green: How The Cleaning Industry Can Be More Sustainable

In over 90% of the CPG categories, sustainability-marketed products grew faster than their conventional counterparts. According to Harvard Business Review, products that had a sustainability claim accounted for 16.6% of the market in 2018 and delivered nearly $114 billion in sales. After all, cleanliness is one of the most essential aspects of our lives – the very reason Green Cleaning existed.

For the longest time, we have learned how poor indoor environmental quality has had a significant effect on our health and the economy. Thus, the choices we make in cleaning products, can either save the planet or wreak havoc on future generations. Here’s how the cleaning industry can be more sustainable.

green-cleaning

What is Green Cleaning?

According to Stephen P. Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group; Green Cleaning is simply defined as “cleaning to protect health without harming the environment.” This means using cleaning tools, chemicals, and equipment that have a positive impact on the environment. Green cleaning requires more than using products that are more environmentally friendly through the use of goods that help to promote sustainability.

This starts with the product utilizing natural and renewable resources to where it is packed through the use of recycled materials. Not to mention, sustainable product and packaging help reduce the amount of paper and plastic used as well as the fuel used for transport.

More Companies Adapting To Green Cleaning

In terms of economic growth, several companies are implementing effective green cleaning strategies because they believe that sustainable action has a triple bottom line effect. John Elkington proposed that a green, sustainable company or facility should concentrate on the “three Ps”: profits, people, and the planet.

office-cleaning

Studies also show that cost-effective savings are possible when sustainable operations are in place. In 2001, Kimberly-Clark Professional, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of washroom products launched Reduce Today, Respect Tomorrow. This program reflects the company’s philosophy of reducing the use of natural resources throughout the life cycle of its products. Products are manufactured with a source-reduction in mind and designed in such a way that users consume less, either by improved efficiency, more reliable dispensing methods, or both.

With the current global economic and environmental crisis, there are so many reasons for green and sustainable initiatives to be taken. More and more businesses are going green, and more consumers are noticing the value of using eco-friendly, non-toxic products, and preventing harm to nature.

The cleaning industry is one field that needs to be green, as the heavy use of chemicals and other products contribute a great deal to pollution and household safety.

How To Stay Green With Your Office Cleaning

Businesses are incorporating sustainability into their daily practices in an effort to do their part in creating a more eco-friendly future.  If you’re among the businesses that are adopting sustainable business practices such as conserving resources and reducing waste, you’re probably always looking for additional ways to go green.

An area that some businesses overlook is their cleaning practices. Many conventional cleaning products contain chemicals that have a negative impact on people, animals, and the environment. Chemicals in cleaning products can cause health problems such as asthma, cancer, and birth defects. After the products are used, they typically get washed down the drain. Water treatment facilities can get rid of some of the contaminants but not all. These contaminants then get washed into our rivers and lakes, where it can have a negative impact on wildlife.

This is why more and more businesses are incorporating green cleaning into their business practices. If you’re looking for additional ways to stay green, it’s time to look at your cleaning practices.

What is green cleaning?

Green cleaning is when you use cleaning methods and procedures that are designed to preserve human health and the environment. Typically, this means using products that contain environmentally friendly ingredients. Most green products are also manufactured in an environmentally friendly way and are biodegradable.

office-cleaning

Most green cleaning products contain a label on their packaging that indicates the company has met certain environmental and labor standards. However, it’s important to remember that some companies can get this label just by donating to environmental causes or using recycled packaging while their products still contain harmful chemicals. You should always check to see what ingredients are in the product to ensure that it is environmentally friendly. Avoid products that use phosphates, chlorine, artificial fragrances, and artificial colors.

The right green cleaning products smell more natural and will still clean your business just as well as conventional cleaning supplies.

How do I switch to green products?

If you would like to practice green cleaning, the first thing you’ll need to do is to find out what you’re currently cleaning with. If your business does its own cleaning, go around your business and make a list of all your products. If you’re using a cleaning company, ask them to provide you with a list.

After you have your list of products, go through and see if any of them are green products. You can do this by seeing if any of them have an ecolabel or checking to see if they are EWG verified.  If any of them are, great! You’re already using green products.

If they don’t, you’ll want to see if the vendor you buy your supplies from offers a green product line. If you’re using an outside cleaning company, see if they’re willing to use green products. Most companies will already have alternative products on hand. Some companies, such as Executive Cleaning Services, LLC, will also let you provide your own green cleaning products while still doing the cleaning for you!

Aren’t green products more expensive?

No, not necessarily. Depending on where you buy your products, you can get them for around the same price as conventional products.

There are a number of ways to make green cleaning affordable. If you’re a small business, you can consider making your own cleaners out of natural ingredients. If you purchase your products from a vendor, see if you can buy in bulk or buy concentrated products. You’ll spend more money upfront, but the products will last longer.

You should also eliminate unnecessary products to help reduce costs. There are many all-purpose cleaners out there that can be used on multiple surfaces.

What other ways can I stay green with my cleaning?

Switching to green cleaning products is the best way! If you’re not using green products, then you’re not practicing green cleaning.However, it’s also important that your entire team is on board. If your employees go out and buy conventional cleaning products to clean their own cubicle with, it defeats the purpose of your company using green products. Engage your employees in the process of switching to new supplies so that they have a say.

Some might even start practicing green cleaning at home!If you use a cleaning service, make sure you choose someone who also adopts green cleaning practices. An example of someone who does this is Ideal Cleaning – they only use environmentally cleaning products as they understand how much safer they are to use.

In conclusion

If you’re already practicing sustainable business practices, make sure to add green cleaning to your list of practices. Or, if you’re trying to find ways to start being sustainable, green cleaning is a great first step! It’ll take some time to review your current cleaning products, but once you identify new green cleaning products, you’ll be good to go.

Dealing with Household Hazardous Wastes

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) are leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, pesticides etc. HHW contain potentially hazardous ingredients and require special care and safe disposal. 

household-hazardous-wastes

A typical home can contain a vast array of household hazardous wastes used for cleaning, painting, beautifying, lubricating and disinfecting the house, yard, workshop and garage. The chemical-based household products from a single home may seem insignificant; but, when millions of homes use similar products, handling, storing and disposing them improperly may have the combined impact and becomes a major problem.

The health and safety of our families, neighborhoods and environment is threatened when household hazardous waste is stored or disposed of improperly. These products should not be put in the garbage bins or disposed in the storm drains or burned, as they pose a threat to human health and the environment. Thousands of consumer products are hazardous. The general categories are:

  • Automotive products: Gasoline, motor oil, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, car wax and cleaners, lead-acid batteries, brake fluid, transmission fluid etc.
  • Home improvement products: Paint, varnish, stain, paint thinner, paint stripper, caulk, adhesives etc.
  • Pesticides: Insecticide and insect repellent, weed killer, rat and mouse poison, pet spray and dip, wood preservative etc.
  • Household cleaners: Furniture polish and wax, drain opener, oven cleaner, tub and tile cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, spot remover, bleach, ammonia etc.
  • Other: Household batteries, cosmetics, pool chemicals, shoe polish, lighter fluid, prescription medicines etc.

Each year, thousands of people are injured by exposure or accident involving hazardous household products.  Because of the dangers they pose. These products require special awareness, handling, and disposal.  In order to protect health and environment, every consumer should know how to properly use, store, and dispose of hazardous household products. 

Many common household products contain hazardous chemicals.  Once released into the environment, these substances may pose a serious threat to living organisms.  Small quantities of hazardous substances can accumulate over time to reach dangerous levels and contaminate the air, water, and soil. 

Here are some basic guidelines for managing household hazardous wastes:

  • Select the least toxic item and buying only the minimum quantity as required.
  • Read the entire label carefully for health warnings and use good judgment when choosing any product.
  • Store the product at a safe place and away from the children reach.
  • Avoid aerosol products.
  • Always use hazardous products in a well-ventilated area.
  • Never leave containers open.  Many products are volatile, evaporating quickly into the air. 
  • Always seal containers tightly after use.
  • Never mix chemicals and hazardous products. 
  • Do not use spent chemical containers for other purposes.
  • Wear protective clothing such as gloves and a mask when dealing with any hazardous material. 
  • Wash clothing exposed to hazardous materials separately from other clothes.
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke while using hazardous products.
  • Clean up the place after using hazardous products. Carefully seal products and properly refasten all caps.
  • Never put hazardous products in food or beverage containers.
  • Keep products away from sources of heat, spark, flame or ignition.
  • Know where flammable materials are located in your home and how to extinguish them.
  • Keep a multi-purpose dry chemical fire extinguisher in your home.

Biofuels from MSW – An Introduction

Nowadays, biofuels are in high demand for transportation, industrial heating and electricity generation. Different technologies are being tested for using MSW as feedstock for producing biofuels. This article will provide brief description of biochemical and thermochemical conversion routes for the production of biofuels from municipal solid wastes.

drop-in-biofuels

Biochemical conversion

The waste is collected and milled, particles are shredded to reduce the size of 0.2-1.22 mm. MSW is pretreated to improve the accessibility of enzymes and make use of the enzymes in the bacteria for biological degradation on solid waste. The mixture of biomass is mixed with sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide and autoclaved. After steam treatment, the mixture is filtered and washed with deionized water. The pre-treated mixture is then dried and drained overnight. The pre-treatment process improves the formation of sugars by enzymatic hydrolysis, avoids the loss of carbohydrate and avoids the formation of by-products inhibitory.

After pre-treatment (pre-hydrolysis), the mixture undergoes enzymatic hydrolysis for conversion of polysaccharides into monomer sugars, such as glucose and xylose. The common enzymes used for starch-based substrates are amylase, pullulanase, isomylase and glucoamylase. Whereas for lignocellulose based substrates cellulases and glucosidases.

Finally, the mixture is fermented; sugars are converted to ethanol by using microorganisms such as, bacteria, yeast or fungi. The cellulosic and starch hydrolysates ethanolic fermentation were fermented by M. indicus at 37 °C for 72 h. The fungus uses the hexoses and pentoses sugars with a high concentration of inhibitors (i.e. furfural, hydroxymethyl furfural, and acetic acid).

The composition of MSW feedstock effects the yield of the subsequent processes. A high composition of food and vegetable waste is more desirable, as these wastes are easily degradable and result in high yields compared to paper and cardboard.

Thermochemical conversion

Gasification process is carried out by treating carbon-based material with either oxygen or steam to produce a gaseous fuel which requires high temperature and pressure. It can be described as partial oxidation of the waste. At first waste is reduced in size and dried to reduce the amount of energy used in the gasifier.

Biomass_Gasification_Process

Layout of a Typical Biomass Gasification Plant

 

The carbonaceous material oxidizes (combines with oxygen) to produce syngas (carbon monoxide and hydrogen) along with carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, char, slag, and trace gases (depending on the composition of the feedstock). The syngas is then cleaned to remove any sulfur or acid gases and trace metals (depending on the composition of the feedstock).

The main uses of syngas are direct burning on site to provide heat or energy (by using boilers, gas turbines or steam driven engines) and refined to liquid fuels such as gasoline or ethanol.

Syngas can then be converted into biofuels and chemicals via catalytic processes such as the Fischer-Tropsch process. The Fischer-Tropsch process is a series of catalytic chemical reactions that convert syngas into liquid hydrocarbons by applying heat and pressure. Hydrocracking, hydro-treating, and hydro-isomerization can also be part of the “upgrading” process to maximize quantities of different products.

Towards Sustainable Pharmaceutical Management

The pharmaceutical industry has a substantial impact on the environment, especially when the materials used to make them and the chemicals that comprise make their way directly into the environment. The pharmaceutical industry at large as well as average consumer can take steps to make of use of medicine more sustainable through both significant and relatively minor changes.

pharmaceuticals-impact-environment

Medicines and the Environment

The drugs that we consume naturally enter our environment as our body turns them to waste. This issue becomes exacerbated when people intentionally dispose of unused medicine by flushing it down the drain.

Although our water treatment systems are designed to take contaminants out of our wastewater before we re-introduce to the natural environment, some still get through. These contaminants, which include those in medications, can damage the ecosystems they end up in.

High levels of estrogen in waters due to birth control, for example, can hamper the ability of fish to reproduce, reducing their population size. Once those chemicals find their way into the water, they enter the food chain and eventually impact animals that live on land too, including humans.

Plants will absorb the chemicals from medications. Animals then eat these plants or drink the water and ingest the contaminants. Humans might drink the water or eat the plants or animals, making pollution from pharmaceuticals a human health hazard as well. This problem becomes worse in the summer when livestock such as cattle require two to three times as much water as they do during other times of the year.

Proper Disposal of Medicines

If you have unused medications that you need to get rid of, don’t flush them down the drain or throw them straight into the trash. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends one of several other options for the safe and sustainable disposal of medicines.

Some communities have drug take-back programs that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) approves. Some pharmacies also allow you to mail in or dispose of unused medications at kiosks. The DEA also organizes a national drug take-back day.

Although certain medications have recommendations on the label to flush them, you can dispose of the majority of them in your regular trash at home. The FDA recommends mixing them with something unpalatable such as dirt, kitty litter or coffee grounds in a plastic bag that you can seal. This disguises the drugs and prevents pets from getting into them. You can then throw the bag away.

If you are a throwing away a prescription medication container, be sure to scratch out all potentially identifying information to protect your privacy and identity.

Using Medicines More Sustainably

Another option for reducing the impact your use of medicine has on the environment is to use less of it or use more environmentally friendly medications.

To use less medicine, only use it when you truly need it and try substituting natural remedies for pharmaceuticals. Reach for naturally derived treatments such as essential oils, vitamins, herbs or a cup of hot tea. Always consult with your doctor before changing your medication regimen.

As a long-term strategy, regular exercise and a healthy diet can do wonders in improving your overall health and decreasing your need to take medicines.

Sustainability from the Industry’s Perspective

Of course, making the pharmaceutical industry more sustainable isn’t the sole responsibility of the consumer. The industry can also change its practices to manage pharmaceuticals in a more environmentally friendly fashion.

One aspect of this involves energy use. The manufacturing and transportation of medications can be extremely energy-intensive. By using energy more efficiently and using cleaner energy, drug companies can reduce their environmental impact.

Pharmaceutical industry can change its practices to manage pharmaceuticals in a more ecofriendly manner.

These corporations can also make an effort to include more eco-friendly substances in their medications. While they may not be able to remove every non-natural chemical from their products, they can offer greener alternatives to consume and look into reducing the presence of damaging substances as much as possible.

This applies not only to the organizations closest to the consumers but to the entire supply chain.

Medications are often vital to our health, but it can also have a negative impact on the health of our environment. Taking steps to manage pharmaceuticals more sustainably can enable us to protect our own well-being as well as that of our environment.