While everyone is fully aware of the true extent of the global environmental crisis, not everyone is entirely willing to make changes that will slow the destruction of our planet simply because some are a massive inconvenience. However, there are several lifestyle changes that you can make that are favourable to the environment and that won’t alter your daily life much. The following eco-friendly decisions are highly recommended changes that will also save you a fortune.
1. Invest in Solar Power
Taking measures to lower your power bill will likely inconvenience your day as you try to reduce your power consumption through means that will essentially reduce your quality of life. Although, you can invest in solar power and enjoy the same power consumption as you currently are without actually harming the world around us. What’s more, you will be able to save a large amount of money as your power bill will ultimately be removed from your monthly budget completely.
The initial solar cost will be a notable investment and while many homeowners shun from the idea as installing solar panels is not entirely the cheapest decision, although, when considering that your monthly power bill will no longer be an aspect of your budget, you will be able to save in the long-run. The investment will continue to enhance your savings for years to come.
2. Switch To Glass
If you are currently making use of plastic products such as containers and other kitchenware products, you should consider the health benefits of switching to glass. Plastic has left a massive mark on our environment and by switching to glass you won’t just be reducing your own carbon footprint, but you will also be improving the health of your family as plastic products contain harmful chemicals. Therefore, the switch won’t change your daily life whatsoever, although, the environment will be thankful for the change and so will your family.
Some plastic products, such as shopping bags and drinking straws can be switched to other materials and as many retailers have noted the damage, shops are switching to paper straws and paper or material tote bags as zero waste trends are becoming more popular around the world. Once again, this effort will actually save you a small fortune over time as disposable items can become costly.
3. Adjust Your Transport Methods
Not everyone is prepared to walk or cycle to work simply to save the planet and this is often plausible as not everyone lives close enough to their workplace. However, there are other ways of being eco-friendly when travelling. You could consider investing in an electric or hybrid vehicle as the initial spend would also save you a fortune over time and when considering that using solar power means you won’t have to spend money to run your vehicle, your travel budget will be chopped in half.
Alternatively, you could also consider starting a carpool to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads as this is also making a conscious eco effort to save the environment and save money in the process.
Do you run a marine-oriented business? If so, then you may have a unique opportunity to practice environmental conservation. Water, as you know, plays a major role in sustaining life on Earth. Anything you can do to preserve and protect water goes a long way in helping to combat climate change. Marine work covers a wide range of fields, but we found a few tips and tricks that may be applicable to most relevant businesses. Here are a few easy ways to make your marine business greener.
1. Use Less Chemicals in Pools
Here’s a tip for those who work in pool maintenance: use less chemicals. You can use fewer chemicals and also maintain a clean and healthy pool. This may take some strategic planning on your part, but it’s possible.
There are two main chemicals that are used to kill bacteria in pools: chlorine and bromine. Chlorine is more commonly used because it’s cheaper. But bromine is a longer-lasting chemical. Chlorine requires weekly doses because it’s neutralized quickly. You don’t need to dose the pull with bromine every week because bromine is more resilient. When you use bromine, you’re using less chemicals, which is better for the environment.
The downside to bromine is that it’s much more expensive than chlorine. If you have clients who are passionate about the environment, you could explain this to them and ask if they’d be willing to pay a slightly higher fee for bromine chemicals. Remember that you might be able to reduce the number of visits to that pool if you use bromine on it, which could reduce your operational costs.
2. Use Pool Covers
Water naturally evaporates from pools, and pool owners spend a lot of money having to top-off the pool with water every month. It’s a bigger problem in warmer areas, like in Nevada or Southern California. Water is a resource that’s taken for granted, and some of those aforementioned regions experience severe water shortages in times of drought. You should try and limit how often your clients’ pools are re-filled.
Convince your clients to use pool covers during months when they don’t use the pool as frequently. Covers reduce the amount of water that evaporates from the pool. You may be able to charge clients for having your employees cover and uncover the pool. You can use pathos to argue your case; pool covers also prevent young children and small animals from drowning.
3. Practice Eco-Friendly Boating
Do you run a business that involves boating? Be careful about which chemicals you use when you’re cleaning and maintaining your boat. Some chemicals contribute to harmful emissions, while others can pollute the ocean or lakes and kill marine life.
You should use marine foam and marine paint when you’re doing maintenance on the hull and exterior features. Those materials are eco-friendly. You should avoid using antifouling paint, which is very dangerous for marine life. You should also limit your use of household cleaners. You don’t want these chemicals spilling into the ocean. Try and use natural cleaners instead, like vinegar, lemon, and baking soda.
It’s illegal to dump sewage in any body of navigable water because sewage is bad for the ocean. Always properly dispose of sewage at a pumpout facility. Be proactive in fixing leaks, and always have absorbent towels on hand to clean oil off the bilge.
4. SCUBA Conservation
If you run a dive shop, be vigilant in protecting the reefs where you take divers. Educate divers—especially new divers—about not touching coral reefs, and about being careful where they kick their fins. Most scuba divers are respectful of the underwater ecosystems, but there’s a bad apple in every bunch. If you have to, threaten to end dives short if any diver knowingly disobeys your environmental rules.
Last, but certainly not least, recycle! Recycling is one of the easiest and most simple ways to make your marine business more eco-friendly. Regardless of whether you’re a contractor or if you work on a boat, you should always have recycling bins where you can toss used plastics and glass. Take these materials to recycling facilities so that they can be properly re-made into new items. Some recycling facilities even pay you for bringing in materials.
If you run a marine-based business, you have the potential to protect the environment in a huge number of ways. Practice eco-friendly cleaning methods and sustainability, and educate your clients on how they can contribute.
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.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia produces around 15 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) each year with average daily rate of 1.4 kg per person. With the current growing population (3.4% yearly rate), urbanization (1.5% yearly rate) and economic development (3.5% yearly GDP rate), the generation rate of MSW will become double (30 million tons per year) by 2033. The major ingredients of Saudi Arabian MSW are food waste (40-51 %), paper (12-28 %), cardboard (7 %), plastics (5-17 %), glass (3-5 %), wood (2-8 %), textile (2-6 %), metals (2-8 %) etc. depending on the population density and urban activities of that area.
In Saudi Arabia, MSW is collected and sent to landfills or dumpsites after partial segregation and recycling. The major portion of collected waste is ends up in landfills untreated. The landfill requirement is very high, about 28 million m3 per year. The problems of leachate, waste sludge, and methane and odor emissions are occurring in the landfills and its surrounding areas due to mostly non-sanitary or un-engineered landfills. However, in many cities the plans of new sanitary landfills are in place, or even they are being built by municipalities with capturing facilities of methane and leachate.
Recycling Prospects in Saudi Arabia
The recycling of metals and cardboard is the main waste recycling practice in Saudi Arabia, which covers 10-15% of the total waste. This recycling practice is mostly carried out by informal sector. The waste pickers or waste scavengers take the recyclables from the waste bins and containers throughout the cities. The waste recycling rate often becomes high (upto 30% of total waste) by waste scavengers in some areas of same cities. The recycling is further carried out at some landfill sites, which covers upto 40% of total waste by the involvement of formal and informal sectors.
The recycled products are glass bottles, aluminum cans, steel cans, plastic bottles, paper, cardboard, waste tire, etc. depending on the area, available facilities and involved stakeholders. It is estimated that 45 thousand TJ of energy can be saved by recycling only glass and metals from MSW stream. This estimation is based on the energy conservation concept, which means xyz amount of energy would be used to produce the same amount of recyclable material.
Waste-to-Energy Potential in Saudi Arabia
The possibilities of converting municipal wastes to renewable energy are plentiful. The choice of conversion technology depends on the type and quantity of waste (waste characterization), capital and operational cost, labor skill requirements, end-uses of products, geographical location and infrastructure. Several waste to energy technologies such as pyrolysis, anaerobic digestion (AD), trans-esterification, fermentation, gasification, incineration, etc. have been developed. Waste-to-energy provides the cost-effective and eco-friendly solutions to both energy demand and MSW disposal problems in Saudi Arabia.
As per conservative estimates, electricity potential of 3 TWh per year can be generated, if all of the KSA food waste is utilized in biogas plants. Similarly, 1 and 1.6 TWh per year electricity can be generated if all the plastics and other mixed waste (i.e. paper, cardboard, wood, textile, leather, etc.) of KSA are processed in the pyrolysis, and refuse derived fuel (RDF) technologies respectively.
Waste management issues in Saudi Arabia are not only related to water, but also to land, air and the marine resources. The sustainable integrated solid waste management is still at the infancy level. There have been many studies in identifying the waste related environmental issues in KSA. The current SWM activities of KSA require a sustainable and integrated approach with implementation of waste segregation at source, waste recycling, WTE and value-added product (VAP) recovery. By 2032, Saudi government is aiming to generate about half of its energy requirements (about 72 GW) from renewable sources such as solar, nuclear, wind, geothermal and waste-to-energy systems.
When it comes to waste minimisation and moving material up the waste hierarchy you will find partisan advocates for the roles of the public, private and community sectors. Each will tell you the reasons why their sector’s approach is the best. The private sector will extol their virtues as the only ones capable of efficiently and effectively doing the job. They rightly note that they are the providers on the front lines who actually recover the vast majority of material, that the private sector approach drives innovation and efficiency, and that if waste minimisation is to be sustainable this must include economic sustainability.
The community sector on the other hand will make a strong case to say that their model, because it commonly encompasses social, environmental, and economic outcomes, is able to leverage value from recovered materials to dig deeper into the waste stream, to optimise recovered material quality, and to maximise employment and local economic benefit.
Before recycling and composting were economically viable prospects, community sector organisations led the way, developing many of the techniques now widely used. They remain the leaders in marginal areas such as furniture reuse, running projects that deliver environmental outcomes while providing wider community benefits such as rehabilitation and training for marginalised groups.
Finally, in the public sector corner, advocates will point out that the profit-driven private sector will only ever recover those materials that are able to generate positive revenues, and so cannot maximise waste minimisation, while social outcomes are strictly a secondary consideration. The community sector, on the other hand, while encompassing non-monetary values and capable of effective action on a local scale, is not set up to deliver these benefits on a larger scale and can sometimes struggle to deliver consistent, professional levels of service.
The public sector can point to government’s role in legislating to promote consistent environmental and social outcomes, while councils are major providers and commissioners of recycling services and instrumental in shaping public perceptions around waste issues. The public sector often leads in directing activity towards non-monetary but otherwise valuable outcomes, and provides the framework and funding for equity of service levels.
So who is right? Each sector has good arguments in its favour, and each has its weaknesses. Does one approach carry the day? Should we just mix and match according to our personal taste or based on what is convenient?
Perhaps we are asking the wrong question. Maybe the issue is not “which approach is better?” but instead “how might the different models help us get to where we ultimately want to go?”
Smells Like Waste Minimisation
So where do we want to go? What is the waste minimisation end game?
If we think about things from a zero waste perspective, the ideal is that we should move from linear processes of extraction, processing, consumption and disposal, to cyclical processes that mimic nature and that re-integrate materials into economic and natural systems. This is the nirvana – where nothing is ‘thrown away’ because everything has a further beneficial use. In other words what we have is not waste but resources. Or to put it another way – everything has value.
Assuming that we continue to operate in an essentially capitalist system, value has to be translated into economic terms. Imagine if every single thing that we now discard was worth enough money to motivate its recovery. We would throw nothing away: why would we if there was money to be made from it?
So in a zero waste nirvana the private sector and the community sector would take care of recovery almost automatically. There might evolve a community and private sector mix, with each occupying different niches depending on desired local outcomes. There would be no need for the public sector to intervene to promote waste minimisation. All it would need to do would be to set some ground rules and monitor the industry to ensure a level playing field and appropriate health and safety.
Returning to reality, we are a long way from that zero waste nirvana. As things stand, a bunch of materials do have economic value, and are widely recycled. Another layer of materials have marginal value, and the remainder have no value in practical terms (or even a negative value in the case of hazardous wastes).
The suggested shift in perspective is most obvious in terms of how we think about the role of the public sector. To bring us closer to our goal, the public sector needs to intervene in the market to support those materials of marginal value so that they join the group that has genuine value.
Kerbside (or curbside) collection of certain materials, such as glass and lower value plastics, is an example of an activity that is in effect subsidised by public money. These subsidies enable the private sector to achieve environmental outcomes that we deem sufficiently worthwhile to fund.
However, the public sector should not just be plugging a gap in the market (as it largely does now), but be working towards largely doing itself out of a job. If we are to progress towards a cyclical economy, the role of the public sector should not be to subsidise marginal materials in perpetuity, but to progressively move them from marginal to genuinely economic, so that they no longer require support.
At the same time new materials would be progressively targeted and brought through so that the range and quantity requiring disposal constantly shrinks. This suggests a vital role for the public sector that encompasses research, funding for development of new technologies and processes, and setting appropriate policy and price structures (such as through taxes, levies, or product stewardship programmes).
Similarly, the community sector, because it is able to ‘dig deeper’ into the waste stream, has a unique and ongoing role to play in terms of being able to more effectively address those materials of marginal value as they begin to move up the hierarchy. The community sector’s unique value is its ability to work at the frontiers.
Meanwhile, the private sector’s resources and creativity will be needed to enable efficient systems to be developed to manage collection, processing and recycling of materials that reach the threshold of economic viability – and to create new, more sustainable products that fit more readily into a waste minimising world.
In the end, then, perhaps the answer is to stop seeing the three models as being in competition. Instead, we should consciously be utilising the unique characteristics of each so that we can evolve our practices towards a future that is more functional and capable of delivering the circular economy that must eventuate if we are to sustain ourselves on this planet.
Note: The article is being republished with the kind permission of our collaborative partner Isonomia. The original article can be viewed at this link
When titanium was first brought into widespread usage, it was lauded for its strong and weathering-resistant properties. Due to energy costs, production declined over the past 10 years; however, a new process established by the UK’s Dstl has reduced titanium processing time by 50%. The result – Cheap, low-energy titanium production.
Titanium is used in a startlingly diverse array of applications, too. From paint, to bikes, to eco friendly party glitter, you will likely encounter titanium in your day-to-day life more frequently than you’d notice. It’s good news, then, that titanium is being used to support positive environmental change in numerous ways.
Titanium taking over plastic
One of the foremost ways in which titanium is helping to improve our natural environment is through offering alternatives to polluting items. A great example of this is plastic replacement.
According to clean ocean advocates The Ocean Cleanup, there’s over 80m tonnes of plastic in the oceans. A large contributor to this is the plastic straw, which features at 11th in the list of Get Green’s most commonly littered plastics. Many manufacturers, by utilizing the non-rusting and sturdy quality of titanium tubes, have opted to replace drinking straws with titanium. Given the possibility of cheap, low energy tubes, this means ocean cleanliness can be improved and carbon emissions mitigated.
Taking titanium to the next level
The material properties of titanium are being taken to the next level by modern science. Another huge cause of carbon emissions and pollution is the plastic bottle. A key target for environmental plans, the reusable bottle industry grew to $7.6bn last year, according to Nielson.
Titanium has entered the market through a clever flexible bottle, with titanium a key component. The metal has again been chosen due to its resistant quality and the improving environmental impact of producing it.
Tackling the oxides
Oxides have been the main use of titanium for a while. Paint, ink, sunscreen, medicines, paper – there are countless products that use titanium oxide. Historically, the process for oxide extraction has been environmentally damaging, as has the product itself; for example, the USA’s National Park Service states that various sunscreens with Ti oxide will damage coral.
Many manufacturers are replacing plastic drinking straws with titanium.
Now, Titanium Oxide is likely to be brought into the green sphere, too. A novel new study published in the Journal for Pharmaceutical Sciences found that titanium oxide can be synthesized using bacteria, and that this could spell a much brighter future for the historically damaging extraction.
Titanium is a versatile and well renowned metal used in a huge range of applications. As such it’s not an easy proposition to remove it from the market on the grounds of environmentalism. However, through determined scientific study and consumer action, it’s becoming a figurehead in helping the public to use its quality and simultaneously protect the planet.
Going green isn’t just meant for Earth Day. Going green is a way of life. However, Earth Day is a day we pause and commemorate, acknowledge and support environmental programs and Earth-saving strategies. It is also a great day to commit or recommit to employ earth-friendly practices in your life, at home and in the office. There are countless things you can do to “go green.” Most of these things are ease to incorporate into your life. Recycling is one of the easiest ways to go green. Recycling is the process of obtaining or retaining waste and converting it into usable, new materials. Some things that can be used to recycle are:
Recycling is actually a great way to conserve raw resources and save energy. Recycling at least one ton of paper can save 7,000 gallons of water and 17 trees, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Hiring a skip would help recycle that amount of paper and you can click here for ideas for ideas on the size of the skip you could employ.
As you see, recycling is an effective and simple way to help the environment. It is something the entire family can do too. Before recycling, call your local waste management services. Determine how to you need to sort and pack items for recycling. In addition, you want to know what day or days the waste management services collects recycling. Check with them to find out where you safely dispose of light bulbs, hazardous materials and batteries. These cannot be recycled or put in the trash.
Your local waste management service has different rules about how items must be sorted, cleaned and packaged. Metal, cardboard, plastics, aluminum, glass and paper can be recycled.
It can be tricky to recycle plastics because some can break down easier than other plastics. The number located on the plastic item will determine if it can be recycled. It will also determine if the plastic can be picked up for recycling.
Although plastics are trickier to sort and recycle, it’s important to dispose of them properly. One important factor to establishing a recycling a program at work, school or home is to create a system that works for everyone. Here are a few favorites we like:
Recycling is about convenience, convenience, and more convenience! When incorporating a successful program about which you can read in the essay about recycling, make bins easily accessible. They should be in an area that is easily visible and used like the utility room or kitchen where they can be seen and used
Batteries are not to be recycled. They cannot be put into a trash can for non-recycling either. Instead, they should be properly thrown away at a collection center or a participating auto part store. The same thing should be done with light bulbs.
Make a special area of your home or office to use as a personal sorting center. This is where you can sort and clean recyclables. You may want to look at some personal recycling centers to get an understand of what you need.
Many people do not have an area they can keep bulky recycling or trash in the home or office. If this is the case for you, create a dedicated spot in the garage or other area. It won’t take long before your family or co-workers are pitching in to recycle.
Recycling is full of great ideas to help the environment. Find the ones you like. Used them in your successful recycling program.
Plastics are regarded by some as one of the greatest human inventions and continue to benefit society in more ways than one. However these benefits come at a high environmental cost as research has shown that “over 300 million metric tons of plastics are produced in the world annually and about 50% of this volume is for disposable applications, products that are discarded within a year of their purchase”.
About 50 percent of all plastics produced worldwide are disposed of within one year of being manufactured; now that is a critically important statistic when plastics have been known to have life spans over 500 years. Infact, this is the main reason behind massive waste accumulation of plastics in landfills, drainage systems, water bodies etc. Moreover, plastic’s destruction is evident when in 2009, it was reported that an estimated 150 million tons of fossil fuels were consumed for the production of plastics worldwide.
Given all of these facts, it is no surprise that the pervasive use of non-biodegradable plastics has provoked many environmental and health concerns, especially in developing countries where plastic is often disposed of in unauthorized dumping sites or burned uncontrollably.
One result of this broadening awareness of the global plastic waste problem and its impact on the environment is the development of bioplastics. Bioplastics are based on biomass derived from renewable resources and are in many cases more environmentally friendly than traditional petroleum based plastics. Currently, numerous types of bioplastics are under development, the most popular being Polylactides, Polyglycolic acids, Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), aliphatic polyesters and polysaccharides.
Basic Concepts and Misconceptions
Overall, in the Plastics Industry Trade Association’s 2012 Bioplastics Industry Overview Guide, it is stated that bioplastics that are both bio-based and biodegradable play an important role in further advancing the plastic industry as a whole. Incredibly essential to note, is that within the above statement, it states, the importance of bioplastics that are both bio-based and biodegradable. This statement implies that not all bioplastics are biodegradable and/or bio-based.
In fact, according to a 2011 industry report, there are many characteristics such as degradable, biodegradable, bio-based and compostable that are used to describe bioplastics. However, not every bioplastic is comprised of all of these features. According to the report, this remains a common misconception as the public at large still lacks a clear understanding of the various bioplastic related terms.
For instance, it is commonly thought of that the terms bio-based and biodegradable are interchangeable. However not all bio-based plastics will degrade naturally. In fact, “many bio-based products are designed to behave like traditional petroleum-based plastic, and remain structurally intact for hundreds of years”.
The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) defines biodegradable plastics as a plastic in which all the organic carbon can be converted into biomass, water, carbon dioxide, and/or methane via the action of naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi, in timeframes consistent with the ambient conditions of the disposal method (Compostable Plastics 101).
This definition implies that there is a specific timeframe for the biodegradation to take place and merely fragmenting into smaller pieces, even if microscopic, does not make a material biodegradable. This definition is commonly confused with the term degradable which is a broader term given to polymers or plastics that simply break down by a number or means, such as physical disintegration, chemical disintegration and biodegradation by natural mechanisms.
After degradation, a degradable plastic can still remain in a smaller or fragmented form unlike that of a biodegradable plastic, which needs to completely biodegrade into water, carbon dioxide and/or methane. This distinction between terms results in polymers that are degradable but not biodegradable.
Another term that is commonly found to describe bioplastics is ‘compostable’. Compostable is defined by ASTM as “a plastic that undergoes biological degradation during composting to yield carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass at a rate consistent with other known compostable materials and leaves no visually distinguishable or toxic residues”.
While the ASTM has specific standards for a plastic to be compostable such as biodegradation, eco-toxicity, and disintegration, the main difference between a plastic being compostable versus biodegradable is the rapid rate at which biodegradation, eco-toxicity, and disintegration occur. Therefore, in theory, all compostable plastics are biodegradable however, not all biodegradable plastics are compostable.
Finally, probably the most often confused term regarding bioplastics is the label, “bio-based”. As defined by the US Department of Agriculture, the term “bio-based” refers to solely the raw materials of the plastic. According to the Department of Agriculture, bio-based materials that are those that are “composed in whole, or in significant part, of biological products or renewable domestic agricultural materials or forestry materials”.
Since the majority, not all, of the materials have to be renewable, many bio-based plastics combine both petroleum-based materials with naturally based ones. For this reason, some researchers have suggested that a bio-based material may not technically be a sustainable product. Therefore, while the two terms are somewhat related, whether or not a product is bio-based is not an independent indicator of whether it is biodegradable.
Making an Informed Decision
This lack of understanding between the terms is a large issue that does not get much recognition. Consumers are increasingly buying more and more bioplastics but are not fully being educated on the differences between the various different types of bioplastics on the markets. While as a whole, bioplastics may have many notable attributes making them excellent alternatives to traditional plastics, they are not considered flawless solutions.
Some bioplastics encompass all of the above qualities while others may only hold one or two of these characteristics; meaning that there is a vast disparity between how environment-friendly different bioplastics might actually be.
Consumers often see the term bioplastic or a bio-based plastic and automatically assume that it will breakdown into the soil like leaves or grass once it is disposed of, when as discussed, this is often not the case. All in all, given the significant differences between the terms, it is very important for consumers to know that “bio-based,” “biodegradable” and “compostable” are individual attributes and be educated on what these characteristics actually mean. It is equally important for manufacturers to be educated on these differences and make proper labeling of their bioplastic products.
Biobased and degradable plastics in California. Retrieved from this link
California Organics Recycling Council. (2011). Compostable plastics 101. Retrieved from this link
Confused by the terms biodegradable & biobased. (n.d.). Retrieved from this link
Divya, G., Archana, T., & Manzano, R. A. (2013). Polyhydroxy alkanoates – A sustainable alternative to petro-based plastics. Petroleum & Environmental Biotechnology, 4(3), 1-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2157-7463.1000143
Liu, H-Y. (2009). Bioplastics poly(hydroxyalkanoate) production during industrial wastewater treatment. Retrieved from ProQuest Digital Dissertations. (AAT 3362495)
Niaounakis, M. (2013). Biopolymers: Reuse, recycling, and disposal. Waltham, MA: William Andrew Publishing.
North, E. J., & Halden, R. U. (2013). Plastics and environmental health: the road ahead. Reviews on Environmental Health, 28(1), 1-8. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2012-0030
The Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. (2012, April). Bioplastics Industry Overview Guide.
United States Department of Agriculture. (2006). Federal biobased products preferred procurement program. Retrieved from this link
Whether talking about recycling for a home or business, this type of service is extremely important for the environment. Waste has a negative impact on the environment and can cause pollution of many kinds. Most companies that offer both garbage and recycling services are very organized, and consumers are expected to be equally organized in sorting their waste and separating it from recyclable items.
Because the process of figuring out what can be recycled, many individuals and business owners find it is much easier to simply hire a waste management company.
Below are some questions to consider when looking for recycling services and reasons why hiring a waste management company can take the guesswork out of recycling.
What Kind of Recycling Service is Required?
This can mean anything from home to office to hazardous waste to syringe collection services. Some companies offer all types of recycling and provide the different skip bins necessary to mitigate these needs. It is important to contact the company and find out as much information that is needed to make an informed decision on how recycling is handled.
However, most companies will only offer a general list of items that can be recycled, including plastics, cardboards, glass, etc. This list will not be exhaustive, leaving many consumers to wonder what to do with items such as plastic bottle caps, milk cartons and the like. A waste management company will know the specific regulations for what can and cannot be recycled, eliminating the hassle for you.
What Can Be Recycled?
Bricks, wood, paper, metals, cardboard, plastics, concrete, and green waste can all be recycled.
Bricks – These are broken down and crushed in order to be made into new bricks.
Wood – Wood can be used again as a building material or can be processed into pulp or mulch. Recycling wood can limit the number of trees that are being cut down.
Paper – The process for this material mixes old paper with chemicals and water to break it down. It is then chopped, heated and broken down further into strands of cellulose. This substance is then called slurry or pulp and is further recycled into new paper.
Metals – Recycling metals will not alter its properties, the most common metals recycled are steel and aluminum.
Cardboard – This uses a process that reuses thick sheets of multilayered papers (cardboard) that have been discarded.
Plastics – The recycling process for plastics recovers waste or scraps of plastic and reprocesses them into useful products.
Concrete – This type of recycling is becoming more common and uses a process of reuse of the rubble for new construction endeavors.
Green Waste – This can be anything from leaves to grass trimmings to flower cuttings that can be decomposed and then recycled. This will in turn produce what is called green waste.
There are a number of items that can be recycled, but it is important to note that not all recycling pickup services will be able to process all the items mentioned above. Certain materials, such as concrete or wood, must be disposed of at specific facilities.
Recycling has unending benefits
For the average homeowner, this can mean having to locate the specific facility and transport the recyclable materials to them. A waste management company will have the contacts in the industry to know where to take any type of recyclable item and can take care of the transportation for you.
What Recycling Techniques Are Used, and Are They Legal and Ethical?
Concretes and Aggregates – This process would involve using a crushing machine and combining the concrete with bricks, asphalt, dirt and rocks. The smaller pieces will be used as gravel, crushed concrete can all be used as dry aggregate, which in turn can be used to make new concrete that will be free of contaminates.
Batteries – This type of recycling can be very difficult; all batteries must be sorted into groups of similar kinds and require. Older batteries contain cadmium and mercury, which are very harmful and must be handled very carefully.
Biodegradable Waste – This type of waste can be made into reusable material via the process of biological decomposition. The two mechanisms that help this to occur are composting or converting it into soil improver and biogas. The latter uses anaerobic digestion where organic wastes are broken down by microorganisms in a biogas plant.
Again, a waste management company will be able to guarantee that your recycling ends up in the right processing facilities and to ensure that it does get processed according to government regulations and ethical means. When the wrong items end up in recycling, this can lead to an entire batch being thrown out. A waste management company will make sure that the recyclable items are properly sorted, helping to ensure that your efforts to recycle do not go to waste.
What Are the Benefits of Recycling?
There are many benefits to using a recycling service. For instance, recycling conserves energy, reduces greenhouse gases, reduces water and air pollution, and conserves natural resources by reusing recycled materials. Protecting the environment is one of the most important things a home or business can do. When an individual or business chooses to recycle all different kinds of waste, it makes the world a better, less toxic place to live.
Not only does recycling help protect the world, it also reduces the need for extraction such as mining, logging and quarrying. It also reduces the need for processing and refining of raw materials. All these processes can contain harmful, substantial amounts of water and air pollution. Recycling will save this energy while reducing the amount of greenhouse gas, which in turn helps to attack climate change.
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