Britain worst in Europe for electrical recycling

June 26, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Britain has picked up the wooden spoon in a recent survey looking into the electrical recycling habits of Europeans. According to the results of the new research, we are apparently the worst in Europe when it comes to recycling WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment).

WEEE comprises such devices as mobile phones, PCs, laptops and games consoles, and the research carried out by Dell suggests that we are falling way behind the rest of the continent when it comes to recycling these products.

The survey questioned 5,000 people across Europe regarding their recycling habits when it comes to old electronic products, and found that in Britain only half of consumers take appropriate recycling steps, compared to an impressive 80% of Germans.

Indeed, Germany, Spain, France and Italy all out-perform us when it comes to having a greater awareness of recycling initiatives, which is the root of the problem. Greater awareness leads to a greater level of recycling, so we still have a long way to go.

Within the UK, it was the Welsh who performed the worst, with 19% of people admitting that they had never recycled any of their technology products. This was followed closely by people living in the north of England.

There was also confusion between standard recycling and the recycling of electronic products. In the north east of England, almost three quarters of people claim to do what they can to recycle, but less than 1% recycle their electronic products. There is also little knowledge across the country of exactly what the WEEE initiative is, which all paints a rather depressing picture of recycling in the UK.

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Waste industry sees signs of recovery

June 19, 2009 at 2:59 pm

The waste industry is apparently back in action, according to the latest survey from WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme).

The results of the survey that has recently been carried out suggest that China has revamped its demand for waste from the UK over the last few months, after the disastrous drop in demand that took place over the last year.

The huge drop in demand had devastating repercussions for the UK’s waste industry. Some companies were simply not able to cope and went bust, leaving piles of waste paper and other recyclables stacked high, and leading many to think that it was not worth recycling in the first place if their rubbish was just going to go to landfill.

Thankfully, due to an increase in export demand combined with shortages of materials, the prices have gone up from February to about three times what they were at their lowest level. Some materials such as glass haven’t done so well, but most materials have made at least some improvements.

The survey took into account over 200 waste processing firms in China, and nearly all of them reported growing demand for UK waste. The news prompted the director of WRAP, Marcus Gover, to state that China is “still open for business” for UK waste.

Not all is entirely back to normal, however, as there are still concerns that the end products, such as plastic bottles made from recycled materials, could suffer from lack of demand in the medium-term. However, in the short-term, it’s fair to say that things are looking good for the UK waste industry.

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Train sleepers made out of recycling plastic coming to the UK

June 15, 2009 at 3:43 pm

The word ‘sleeper’ is often quite apt when it comes to the parts of the train tracks in the UK made out of wood. Although the wood is very durable and long-lasting, and has even become something of a fashion accessory for people’s gardens, there is something quite ancient about these timber boards that the rails sit on. It feels they need a burst of modernity and that burst has finally come in the form of recycled plastics.

The company in charge of the UK’s rail lines, Network Rail, has come up with a forward-thinking idea with the help of a Halifax plastics recycling plant called i-plas. The idea is to replace the thousands of sleepers, particularly in rural areas, with new recycled plastic ones. Over twenty tonnes of waste plastics will be saved from landfills, and other plants, and melted down into the shape of a sleeper. There will be a detailed assessment of the durability of the new products following this and Network Rail hope that if they are successful, then they will be installed throughout the whole of the UK.

Not only is this good for plastics but it’s good for timber. Although all of the current new timber sleepers come from managed forests, many of them have to travel quite some distances to arrive at their final destination. It’s a much greener solution all round then for Network Rail. The only problem is, how disruptive will installation of the new sleepers be, on top of the already embarrassing delays with Network Rail?

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Huge breakthrough for UK’s metal recycling

June 15, 2009 at 3:41 pm

The press is often keen to point out the downsides to nuclear power, and in particular to the safety of their afterlife. When a nuclear power station comes to the end of its life, usually after around 40 years, the issue of what to do with the reactors and the site as a whole, is a worry for many environmentalists. Tonnes and tonnes of concrete is often poured over the area in the hope that waste doesn’t leak or cause problems in the future. This month sees a huge step forward for this problem.

A breakthrough has occurred in Cumbria that will see old metal from nuclear power stations being diverted from scrapyards, and melted down safely and recycled into other metals for the future. The site at Lillyhall, Studsvik, has just opened its doors to nuclear contaminated metals and is the first of its kind in the UK. The £6 million venture is a huge boost for the UK’s nuclear energy ambitions, towards which Gordon Brown has fully pledged his support this year.

The benefits of the new site are huge. Recycling steel is a much more environmentally friendly solution than mining fresh iron ore. It’s also a lot less expensive. This site means that previously hard to dispose of metals, taken from nuclear sites, will be turned back into invaluable metals in a safe environment.

The site has boosted the local economy and provided excitement in the area. Its construction has provided work for hundreds of people and up to 30 new jobs will be available when the site is fully operational. There is even an educational facility incorporated in the form of a viewing platform for schools to come and watch the recycling process.

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Food waste to have its own recycle bin

June 2, 2009 at 1:32 pm

There have been a number of councils all over the country that have made the very brave decision to collect potentially mouldy substances from our homes. The bins are normally blue, which, together with the green ones for normal recycling and then the black ones for everything else, make our front gardens look like a cluttered rainbow of bins.

This month sees South Oxfordshire announce that as of June this year residents will have to think twice before chucking eggshells in the bin. The local council seems very excited about the prospect of a greener area thanks to the new bins, but it would be fair for some of the residents to be slightly anxious about the way in which the collection is going to be carried out.

If you or the council miss a normal recycling collection one week, then a glass bottle or aluminium can sitting in the garden isn’t going to hurt anyone. But swap that for some fish bones, or fresh fruit and you’ve got a whole catalogue of things that might go wrong. This is something the residents of Eastville in Bristol found out when they had a smell so bad following a missed collection they decided to dump the bin on their councillor’s own front doorstep.

DEFRA and all the local councils are very keen to stress the importance of recycling our food waste in the future. Not only does it save on what goes into the landfills but also the process of anaerobic digestion, which happens at the plant, produces effective biogas that can be used in the National Grid. It’s just going to be a case of collecting the bins before the maggots find them.

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