Tag Archives: recycling

Kibera, Kenya – Community Turns Garbage Into Energy Source

Kibera, Kenya – Community Turns Garbage Into Energy Source

A community-based organisation in the Kenyan slum area of Kibera set out to clean up garbage and deal with waste water; Ushiriki Wa Safi ended up creating a community cooker that turns waste into an energy source.

Open sewers and piles of garbage are an all too familiar scene in many of Kenya’s poorest urban areas. Local authorities are invisible in most of these slums, and poor public hygiene and the absence of sanitation leaves residents to their own devices to maintain a level of cleanliness and keep diseases like diarrhoea at bay.

But some have seen this as an opportunity to bring about change to communities. Ushirika Wa Safi – (loosely translated, the name means “an association to maintain cleanliness” in Swahili) – a community-based organisation in Kibera, was formed to deal with the garbage problem in Laini Saba, one of the thirteen villages that form Kibera slums, often described as Africa’s largest.

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CNN – Ghana bags a handy new way to tackle plastic waste

London, England (CNN) — In Ghana’s capital, Accra, the streets are choked with trash and littered with plastic waste that blocks gutters and clogs storm drains.

Drinking water comes in sachets that cost a few cents. Cheap and convenient, they are sold in shops and by street hawkers. But once they have been drunk they are often simply dropped on the ground.

When British entrepreneur Stuart Gold saw Accra’s plastic problem he recognized an opportunity for a business venture — an NGO that could clean up the streets and create jobs in the community.

His idea was to collect discarded sachets, clean them up and stitch them together to make brightly colored, fashionable bags.

Two-and-a-half years later, Trashy Bags makes around 250 items a week and produces 350 different designs of bags, wallets and raincoats.

And crucially, its network of collectors has gathered some 15 million plastic sachets that might otherwise be on the streets of Accra.

“One of the problems in Ghana is the amount of plastic littering the streets,” Gold told CNN. “There isn’t a proper way of collecting waste and people aren’t educated as to the problems of plastic waste.

“The pure-water sachet is ubiquitous. When anyone wants water they can’t drink tap water so they buy these sachets, even for their home.

“Once they’ve drunk the water they drop it in the street. You can see people drop them from their cars,” he said.

Gold said that while waste collection is slowly improving in Accra, recycling is still in its infancy and landfills are inadequate.

Plastic dumped in the streets ends up blocking drains, which Gold said can cause seasonal flooding. Other waste makes it into the sea, with unsightly tangles of plastic bags washing up on the beaches to the east of Accra, he said.

Trashy Bags encourages people to bring them empty sachets, paying about 20 cents for each kilogram of water sachets (about 100 sachets) they deliver. It pays more for ice cream, fruit drink and yogurt sachets, which are harder to come by.

The sachets are sorted, hand washed, disinfected and dried in the sun, before being flattened by hand and stitched into sheets.

The sheets are then cut according to templates and assembled as finished bags, wallets and even rain jackets.

It’s a labor-intensive process that means Trashy Bags products are more expensive than mass-produced items, according to Gold.

Prices range from $1 for a wallet to $26 for sports bags and Gold said most of his products are bought by expats and tourists, or exported to countries including Japan, Germany and Denmark.

But he added that Trashy Bag’s reusable shopping bag, which costs about $4.30, is proving a hit with Ghanaians.

And the labor-intensive manufacture does mean jobs for locals. Trashy Bags currently employs 60 Ghanaians in its workshops and around 100 others collect sachets for the company

“For lots of people collecting sachets is their whole livelihood,” said Gold.

“One woman makes more money than any of our actual workers. She organizes other women to collect and she pays them and she brings the sachets in.”

The result, said Gold, is that instead of discarding sachets, some people are keeping them and selling them on to collectors.

He acknowledged that Trashy Bags’ efforts are only a drop in the ocean of waste, and that despite his goal of turning the NGO into a self-sustaining venture it is struggling to break even.

But he said an important part of the project is education. Whereas a number of clothing companies around the world use materials made from recycled plastic, Trashy Bags are visibly made from the original plastic packaging.

“We don’t melt it down, so it’s very obvious it’s made from recycled plastic trash. So, the Ghanaians love them, and they do appreciate the solution because it’s very graphic,” said Gold.

There are similar projects to Trashy Bags in other countries. “Bazura Bags” in the Philippines makes bags from offcuts left over by packaging companies, India’s “Thunk in India,” makes all kinds of recycled products, including pencil cases made from fruit juice cartons, and “Terracycle” in the United States makes a range of items, including backpacks made from cookie wrappers.

It’s a sign that attitudes to waste are changing around the world. And in Ghana too. The government has acknowledged there is a problem with plastic waste and has even talked about banning plastic.

While a ban may be unrealistic, the fact it has been considered is a sign the environment is a growing concern in the country.

“People in West Africa don’t take the environment particularly seriously, but more and more in Ghana they do,” said Gold.

“They are gradually seeing there are problems other than just disease, and [polluting] the environment is one of them.”

Source – CNN, June 1, 2010

China scientists find use for cigarette butts

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chemical extracts from cigarette butts — so toxic they kill fish — can be used to protect steel pipes from rusting, a study in China has found.

In a paper published in the American Chemical Society’s bi-weekly journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, the scientists in China said they identified nine chemicals after immersing cigarette butts in water.

They applied the extracts to N80, a type of steel used in oil pipes, and found that they protected the steel from rusting.

“The metal surface can be protected and the iron atom’s further dissolution can be prevented,” they wrote.

The chemicals, including nicotine, appear to be responsible for this anti-corrosion effect, they added.

The research was led by Jun Zhao at Xi’an Jiaotong University’s School of Energy and Power Engineering and funded by China’s state oil firm China National Petroleum Corporation.

Corrosion of steel pipes used by the oil industry costs oil producers millions of dollars annually to repair or replace.

According to the paper, 4.5 trillion cigarette butts find their way into the environment each year. Apart from being an eyesore, they contain toxins that can kill fish.

“Recycling could solve those problems, but finding practical uses for cigarette butts has been difficult,” the researchers wrote.

China, which has 300 million smokers, is the world’s largest smoking nation and it consumes a third of the world’s cigarettes. Nearly 60 percent of men in China smoke, puffing an average of 15 cigarettes per day.

Source – http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100513/sc_nm/us_butts

Worldwatch Institute – Flushing Our Forests Down the Toilet

Flushing Our Forests Down the Toilet

by Julia Tier on April 15, 2010

Washington, D.C.-Worldwide, the equivalent of almost 270,000 trees is either flushed or dumped in landfills every day and roughly 10 percent of that total is attributable to toilet paper. Meanwhile, growing populations, adoption of Western lifestyles, and sanitation improvements in developing countries are driving the increased use of toilet paper. According to the latest issue of World Watch magazine, the result is that forests in both the global North and South are under assault by paper companies competing to fill consumer demand.

“Steadily increasing demand for toilet paper in developing countries is a critical factor in the impact that toilet paper manufacturer have on forests around the world,” says author Noelle Robbins. “And with the increasing pressure to reduce and discontinue the use of old growth forests, the move is on to tree plantations.”

But according to Robbins, this cure could be worse than the disease. While the paper industry often touts plantations as the solution to creating an ongoing supply of virgin pulp and fiber, these monocultures often displace indigenous plant and animal life, require tremendous amounts of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and soak up large quantities of water.

While some toilet paper manufacturers rely on forests, others turn to trash cans for their raw materials. Advocates of recycled toilet paper point out that converting virgin pulp to toilet paper requires more water than recycled paper and makes use of the tons of already used paper that fills landfills. Various estimates place the quantity of waste paper tossed into U.S. dumps and landfills at 35-40 percent of total landfilled mass.

“Toilet tissue, whether manufactured from virgin pulp or recycled paper, will continue to be an important part of daily life in Western countries and in developing countries emphasizing improved sanitation to mitigate health concerns,” says Robbins. “Education of consumers; improvements in quality, pricing, and marketing recycled products; and willingness to consider toilet paper alternatives such as water for cleansing must be pursued to meet the needs of a growing global population.”

Source – http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6411

USA – Solid Waste Industry Managing Trash as a Resource

Technological Innovation Turns Garbage into Energy, While Reducing Emissions, Says Industry Leader in Speech to Washington Economists

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Forget your old-fashioned ideas about the solid waste industry. It’s not just about hauling garbage anymore.

So said Bruce J. Parker, president and CEO of the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), in a speech today to the Society of Government Economists in Washington. NSWMA represents the private sector solid waste industry in the United States.

“Most Americans probably don’t recognize today’s garbage industry for who we really are – one of the most environmentally responsive and innovative industries in the nation,” said Parker. “The nearly 400,000 American men and women who work in the public and private sectors of our industry – in positions as varied as haulers, mechanics, civil engineers and environmental scientists – have long moved beyond simply picking up trash.”

“Americans throw out more than 250 million tons of garbage each year. Our industry continues to protect public health and the environment by managing this waste,” Parker said. “But in recent years, we’ve pioneered technologies that have changed the ways we deal with our trash. We’ve invested tens of millions of dollars, not only to modernize landfills and boost recycling rates, but also to cut greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants, and find renewable sources of energy that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”

Parker pointed to waste-based energy projects, which turn household garbage into clean, renewable energy. In addition to 87 waste-to-energy facilities operated by the industry – generating enough electricity to power 1.7 million homes – it also operates 470 landfill-gas-to-energy projects that provide electricity and heat for corporate and government users in 44 states. The U.S. EPA has identified an additional 520 landfills across the nation as potential candidates for similar energy projects.

“Landfill-gas-to-energy projects also address global warming by capturing methane, a potent greenhouse gas,” Parker noted. The EPA estimates that using methane as renewable, “green” energy brings environmental and energy benefits equivalent to eliminating the carbon dioxide emissions of 195 million barrels of oil a year. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has noted that landfill-gas recovery directly reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Other industry initiatives include working with truck manufacturers to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles, investing in the development of alternative fuels such as biodiesel, compressed natural gas and ethanol, using renewable sources of energy such as solar to power compacting equipment, and placing solar panels and wind turbines on landfills to produce even more energy.

“Increasingly, the industry is relying on cleaner-burning fuels to power our fleet of 130,000 trucks,” Parker said. “We’re also looking toward hybrid technology to further reduce greenhouse emissions and improve air quality.”

Recycling and composting offer another important environmental success story, Parker said. The industry processed recycling for or composted slightly more than one third of all municipal solid wastes in 2007, conserving precious resources, protecting air and water from potential pollution and leading to a 2.5 percent reduction in America’s total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. EPA.

“The solid waste industry is proud of its environmental achievements, but there is much more to do. Our collective efforts have made a difference, and we continue to raise the bar,” Parker said.

NSWMA represents for-profit companies in North America that provide solid, hazardous and medical waste collection, recycling and disposal services, and companies that provide professional and consulting services to the waste services industry. For more information about how America’s solid waste management professionals are serving as environmental health and safety stewards, protecting our environment and serving our communities, please visit http://www.everydayenvironmentalists.org/environmentalists.

Source – Business Wire

Conserve/India – handbags from recycled plastic creates jobs for urban poor

conserve1Trashy Fashion From India

Plastic bags are a plague. They can be found in just about every corner of the planet— in fields, trees, rivers, oceans and even in the stomachs of birds and sea creatures around the globe.

They don’t biodegrade in landfills and almost every piece of plastic ever made is still in existence today.

Enter Anita Ahuja, founder and president of Conserve, based in India. Anita has come up with a way to upcycle the plastic bags plaguing her region and also help numerous people find gainful employment. The result is Conserve’s stunning range of bags made from recycled plastic. We caught up with Anita to ask her a few questions about her fashionable eco-bags and her amazing enterprise.

Please tell us a bit about Conserve.
Along with support and encouragement from my family and friends I established Conserve, a non-profit organization in 1998 with a mandate to work in the area of energy efficiency and waste management. In 2002, Conserve started working on developing an alternative recycling or rather up-cycling process that uses abundantly and freely available bags as a resource for income generation for the urban poor through their conversion into a “renewed” material which we call HRP – Handmade Recycled Plastic.

Conserve has trained people from urban slums of Delhi to process waste into recycled sheets, which is more energy efficient and environmentally friendly than conventional recycling processes. This process converts used polythene bags into a ‘renewed’ innovative material with significantly different properties and great visual appeal, without the use of any additional colour or dyes.

Conserve’s process of recycling is far more environmentally and energy friendly than the conventional plastic recycling process. Moreover, it is very good for the environment as it uses existing everyday skills of local people. Now Conserve is supporting nearly 100 rag pickers and has about 50 employees working for them.

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India – toilets to save water and recycle waste into manure

Kanpur, February 1 – A faculty member of the environmental engineering department of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K) has devised an unique toilet system called “Zero-Waste Toilets”. Such toilets will not only cut down wastage of water but also recycle the waste, to be later used as manure. Prof Vinod Tare and his team, in collaboration with UNICEF, is at present installing four such public toilets in Kanmari Ganj Road locality of Aligarh district. Also, a similar toilet will be installed on the Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram train on an experimental basis, as the project is also being handled by the Technology Mission on Railway safety (TMRS) — a joint initiative of the Ministry of Railways and IIT-K.

Read MoreExpress India