Tag Archives: plastic wastes

Emerging Issues of Environmental Concern: UNEP Frontiers 2016 Report

Emerging Issues of Environmental Concern: UNEP Frontiers 2016 Report, 2016. UNEP.

The UNEP Frontiers 2016 edition presents six emerging issues. It highlights, for example, that the global significance of the financial sector should not confine itself only to enhancing global economic growth, but also to advancing environmental sustainability. The financial sector has a crucial role to play in investing in new low-carbon, resource efficient and environmentally sound assets, and shifting capital away from traditional assets that have high impacts on the environment. The report presents a number of emerging financial initiatives led by the financial sector as innovative solutions to sustainability challenges.

There is a worldwide increase in disease emergence and epidemics particularly from zoonoses – diseases that can be passed on between animals and humans. The report illustrates how the emergence and re-emergence of zoonotic diseases are closely interlinked with the health of ecosystems. The risk of disease emergence and amplification increases with the intensification of human activities surrounding and encroaching into natural habitats, enabling pathogens in wildlife reservoirs to spill over to livestock and humans.

The recent years have seen a growing presence of plastic pollution in the aquatic environment, particularly in form of microplastics. While stakeholders are increasing their efforts to reduce the use of microplastics through innovative approaches and policy change, the scientific community is racing to understand the level of exposure and physiological impacts of microplastic contaminants on various organisms, as well as the risk to human health through consumption of contaminated food.

The UNEP Frontiers report also highlights two critical issues associated with climate change. The issue of loss and damage to ecosystems due to changing climate has risen to global attention in recent years, and has led to the establishment of the Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage associated with climate change impacts. The report introduces a number of case studies on recent sudden- and slow-onset events that have caused losses and damages to ecosystems and human systems, and presents a range of risk management tools needed to avoid harm.

 

 

Can we shift waste to value through 3D printing in Tanzania?

Can we shift waste to value through 3D printing in Tanzania? World Bank Blog, Sept 2015. Author: C. Paradi-Guilford.

Plastic waste, in particular PET, which is typically found in soda bottles, is becoming abundant in African cities. In Dar es Salaam, one of the most rapidly urbanizing cities in Africa, BORDA found that about 400 tons of plastic waste per day remains uncollected or unrecycled.  Although about 98 percent of the solid waste generated per day can be recycled or composted, 90 percent is disposed in dumpsites.

A waste collection site in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Photo: Cecilia Paradi-Guilford

At the same time, the recycling industry has started to grow because of new initiatives, community organizations and private companies. There are a few organizations that repurpose waste into arts and crafts, tools or apply it as a source of energy – such as WasteDar. However, the majority collect or purchase plastic waste from collectors, primarily with a view to export, rather than recycle or reuse locally.

Socially and environmentally, waste management is one of the biggest challenges for an increasingly urbanized world. Waste pickers can earn as little as US$1-2 a day in dangerous conditions with little opportunity for advancement. They make up some of the most disadvantaged communities living in deep poverty.

Through a new market for sorted waste materials, these communities may access higher income generation opportunities in a sustainable manner. This presents an opportunity to explore turning this waste into value more close to home.

At the same time, 3D Printing is expanding
3D printing is an additive manufacturing process that applies layers of materials (typically plastic) to develop an object that is made up of thinly sliced horizontal layers. The design of the object is made in a Computer-Aided Design program using a 3D modeling, then is inputted into the 3D printer. Gaining popularity, 3D scanners are also used to make a digital copy of ab object. 3D printers take an input of filament consisting of varying types of plastic to create the object.

Continue reading

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