Waste and Recycling Approaches Through Technology Bill Kuhl
Note : the data used in this presentation was mainly found through Internet resources, hopefully it is fairly accurate. There are people that will argue that recycling wastes more energy than it saves. My point is that there are big challenges in modern society and through technology such challenges hopefully will be more manageable problems in the future. This presentation is one in a series of presentations to create awareness of how technology is being applied to address major issues, I am not trying to push any political agenda, only an awareness of the importance of science.
Waste – What are the Issues <ul><li>With increasing population and our pre-packaged lifestyle, there is an increasing amount of waste and fewer places to dispose of that waste. </li></ul><ul><li>When not disposed of correctly waste can be hazardous to the environment and our health. </li></ul><ul><li>Progress has been made in recycling many materials which saves room in landfills, causes less pollution, requires less energy, and saves on raw materials. </li></ul><ul><li>New “eco-friendly” materials have been created that do not require petroleum and break down faster in landfills. </li></ul><ul><li>There is much debate on whether we are running out of landfill space, not many people want to live near a landfill and in the past there have been issues of groundwater contamination from landfills. </li></ul>
<ul><li>According to the Environmental Protection Agency the United States produces approximately 220 million tons of garbage each year. </li></ul><ul><li>This averages out to about 4 pounds of garbage for each US citizen each day. </li></ul><ul><li>This is equivalent to burying more than 82,000 football fields six feet deep in compacted garbage. </li></ul>How Much Waste?
The Garbage Produced in the United States Each Year Could Fill a Line of Garbage Trucks Stretching from the Earth to the Moon How Much Waste?
Electronics Waste Especially in electronics, technology changes so fast that items often are discarded while still operational just to stay compatible with current technology.
<ul><li>There are now a billion computers in use worldwide -- over 200 million in the United States. </li></ul><ul><li>In the United States the average life span of a computer is three to five years, 30 million become obsolete each year. </li></ul><ul><li>Many of the computers end up as toxic waste allowed to degrade in landfills. </li></ul>Electronics Waste
Monitors, particularly the older cathode ray tube monitors are one of the worst computer components to put in the landfill. Each one contains 3 to 8 pounds of lead as well as mercury, cadmium, and chromium which are hazardous to the environment. Electronics Waste
Using Technology to Help Manage Waste Issues These are some of the ways I see the excessive waste problem tackled through technology: <ul><li>Recycling </li></ul><ul><li>Alternative Materials </li></ul><ul><li>Incineration </li></ul><ul><li>Composting </li></ul>
About 95% Less Energy is Needed to Make Aluminum from Recycled Sources than From Raw Materials Recycling
Recycling a Single Aluminum Can Saves Enough Energy to: Run 100 Watt Light Bulb for Almost 4 Hours Power a Television for 3 Hours Recycling
More Space Could be Saved in Landfills by Recycling Paper than any Other Material Recycling
If Each Person Re-used 1 Grocery Sack for 1 Trip. It Would Save 60,000 Trees Think of How Many Trees if Everyone used Re-useable Cloth Grocery Bags Recycling
Plastic Bags made from Recycled Plastic rather than Raw Material Require 2/3 Less Energy and Over 80% Less Water Recycling
Glass Containers Made from Recycled Glass Containers uses About ½ the Energy than Making from Raw Material. Recycling
Alternatives to Petroleum-based Plastics Most plastic products are based on plastic that is petroleum-based. In addition to requiring a dwindling resource that powers most transportation, this type of plastic takes a very long time to break down in landfills. There are plastics known as “bioplastics” that are made from more natural resins such as corn, wheat, potatoes or algae. For food containers, alternative eco -friendly materials have been created from raw materials such as wood fiber, starch, and limestone. Costs for the eco-friendly materials has been slightly higher but with the increasing cost for petroleum and improvements in manufacturing technology for alternative materials the cost difference should disappear.
Waste incinerators can reduce the volume of waste by over 80%, pollution issues must be addressed and the cost is rather high. As a benefit steam heat and electricity can be produced. Incineration
Composting The natural process by which microorganisms break complex organic matter into topsoil can occur more quickly through composting . There must be selection in type and ratio of waste material to maintain a good nitrogen to carbon ratio. Composting can be done on an individual basis or on a larger scale.
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