Mixed plastic items can now be recycled cost-effectively

December 24, 2008 at 11:28 am

Plastic made from mixed materials accounts for 45 billion wasted items each year. The failure to recycle these items as much as other recyclables has traditionally been excusable as never being cost-effective to do so.

However, research by the Waste Recycling and Action Programme (WRAP) has found that recycling mixed plastic items could save a substantial amount of money in landfill taxes and manufacturing.

“This is the first time that we have been able to prove that recycling mixed plastics is not only possible, but cost-effective and makes good environmental sense. The amount of plastic packaging we see in our bins is frustrating, as there is currently nothing most of us can do about it,” said Liz Goodwin, CEO for WRAP, who unveiled the research for the first time at a high-level conference of industry professionals on Thursday.

“This new research is a first step towards getting that plastic out of the household bin and back in use. This will reduce the need for us to use large amounts of energy producing new plastics and the oil required in their content.”

WRAP wanted to see if it made financial sense to recycle mixed instead of burning it or sending it to landfill. The research also looked at the effect on the environment in each different scenario. WRAP’s mission statement is to help individuals, businesses and local authorities to reduce waste and recycle more, making better use of resources and helping to tackle climate change.

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Yoyo paper

December 24, 2008 at 11:26 am

If you have ever worked in an office you will have an idea of how much paper is thrown away each day. It is estimated that businesses in the UK use 500 million sheets a day, all of which could (in theory at least) be re-used up to seven times but in fact hardly ever is.

Yoyo is a service for businesses which gives benefits both in terms of the business budget and the environment, by recycling the waste paper and returning it to businesses for use. Paper is collected from the business at the same time as the recycled paper is delivered in order to minimise travel costs as well as the process’ carbon footprint.

The exact type of service will depend on the nature of your business and the documents that are being recycled. Non-confidential documents are suitable for Yoyo’s standard service whilst Recycle Plus, which involves shredding the documents, is the best option for papers which you may wish to prevent others from seeing. If you have documents which must not be seen under any circumstances by unauthorised staff either inside or outside the business, or which have to be destroyed under the Data Protection Act then the Confidential Service is appropriate. This can be provided either on a regular or one-off basis.

Yoyo Full Circle provides both colour and natural paper suitable for copying, faxing, printing, or correspondence, all made from recycled paper. If you want brand new paper (or virgin as it is known), you can also order Yoyo Fresh, which is made from certified forest sources.

To work out how much money your business could save with Yoyo see the online calculator.

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Recycling plant at centre of Irish pork scare

December 24, 2008 at 11:25 am

The world of recycling has been hit with some bad and unwanted press after it was revealed that the recent Irish pork scare has been blamed on a recycling plant in County Carlow which produces pig feed from recycled waste.

The problem started when polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) showed up in testing. This product has been banned in Ireland since the 1970s.

Once it had been discovered, the scale of the problem soon became clear, with 47 farms in Ireland and 9 farms in Northern Ireland understood to have been affected. The potential danger to consumers of the pork had much wider implications, with up to 25 countries receiving the meat. However, the risk to health is apparently low, and the general advice is that people should not be worrying too much.

Individuals who do have cause for anxiety are the employees at Millstream Power Recycling, the recycling plant at the centre of it all. The safety breach is a disaster for the plant, as something like this does not simply get brushed under the carpet. There will certainly be a long and detailed analysis which will aim to discover what could possibly have gone wrong.

With food scandals arising with some frequency in the news recently (a notable example is the devastating Chinese tainted-milk scandal which has hit the headlines over the last few months), it is more important than ever that strict rules are kept, in order to prevent potentially dangerous problems from occurring in the first place.

Let’s hope that the exact cause of the Irish pork problem is discovered in order to prevent something similar happening again, as next time it could occur on a far more devastating scale.

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Vacuum waste system comes to Wembley

December 22, 2008 at 8:20 pm

With all the job losses and rising unemployment figures being seen across the country recently, the dustbin men of Wembley must feel fairly hard done by after the arrival of the new employee on the block, which has emerged in the shape of a new vacuum underground waste system.

The Wembley City housing project cost £2.5 billion to build, so it is not exactly a surprise that this lavish project was chosen as the location for the first such system in the UK to be installed.

The role of the new system, made by Swedish company Envac, is to collect recyclable, residual, and organic waste disposed of by the residents, and to suck it all away at speeds up to 50 mph to a central system from where it is finally carried away to be reprocessed. Julian Gaylor is the managing director of Envac, and he has recently claimed that the waste from 700 households can be collected in a matter of minutes.

This may seem slightly futuristic but Envac has actually been operating for nearly 50 years and the systems have already been installed in over 30 countries across the world. Therefore, the UK is actually playing catch up by installing a system in Wembley.

The system will benefit up to 8,000 people and, as well as speeding things up significantly, it will also make it a lot easier for people to get into the habit of recycling since it takes all of the hassle out of the process.

Hopefully this will be used as a trial scheme to monitor its success so that maybe one day we can all look forward to something similar in our own towns and cities.

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Bomb-proof recycling bins for London streets

December 15, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Next year will see the installation of bomb-proof recycling bins on the streets of central London. The bins will be produced by Media Metrica and are expected to cost approximately £30,000 each to construct and install. This expense has been justified by the chief operating officer of the company, Brian James, who believes that “the blast technology is basically military technology. It’s very expensive to put in”. The bins, which have been extensively tested by the company in New Mexico, will be made from a steel composite which has the ability to absorb the force of an explosion.

The company will also finance the maintenance of the recycling bins after signing a contract with the City of London local authority, which will not run out for another fifteen years. Media Metrica is currently holding talks with potential sponsors in the corporate sector and the bins will hopefully be seen on the streets of central London by the end of next year.

As well as providing Londoners with a safe option for recycling, the bins will also provide them with the latest weather information and regular news updates, thanks to hi-tech LCD screens. These screens will always provide a reliable picture to shoppers and commuters, as a result of light-sensitive technology. This technology will ensure that the screens either brighten or dim automatically depending on the weather conditions at the current moment in time. Furthermore, Brian James remains hopeful that all of the screens will be powered using solely green technology.

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Waste processing industry faces collapse

December 3, 2008 at 4:16 pm

The British recycling industry is facing collapse unless the government releases funds to assist with the transport and processing of household waste. The global credit crunch has obliterated overseas demand for recyclable junk, and the bottles and cans that would have normally been shipped to China are being stockpiled or sent to landfill sites.

Waste processing facilities all over Europe are refusing to buy recyclable garbage from British firms because market values have hit an all-time low. The price of a ton of waste paper dropped from £50 to a meagre £1 almost overnight. Steel cans have become worthless.

An elderly lady from Cornwall has collected huge quantities of plastic containers, bread bags, and yoghurt pots in her garage. “The local council won’t take it”, Mrs Oates-Koomen explained, “They say there’s no market for it in this country. So I have no choice but to collect it in a plastic bag.”

Her plight is becoming increasingly common among British householders. Hertfordshire council has warned residents that they will no longer be allowed to recycle margarine tubs, whilst Devon and Scarborough councils have begun stockpiling plastic to prevent an ecological disaster.

In Cambridge, paper recycling bins are being axed. The surplus paper is being ploughed into fields used for farming.

The European Union wants all member states to recycle fifty percent of all household and construction waste by 2020 but, in the wake of the recent financial crisis, many countries are struggling to justify their recycling campaigns. Landfill sites, the bottle bin’s evil twin, may be about to make a brief comeback.

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