Archive | Recycling & Waste

City Dwellers Are More Green-Minded, Study Finds

People who live in big cities are more likely to participate in “green” behaviors than their rural-dwelling counterparts, a new study suggests.

Researchers with the Michigan State University in East Lansing surveyed over 5,000 people living in large and small Chinese cities. They found that big city residents are more likely to recycle, volunteer for environmental organizations, and care about environmental issues.

Although the study was restricted to China, its implications are far-reaching, said head researcher Jiangua “Jack” Liu, a sustainability scientist at Michigan State University.

“China is the largest country in the world, it has had the fastest growing economy in the last three decades, and urbanization is growing really fast,” Liu said, adding that China produces more carbon dioxide emissions than any other country. “Anything that happens in China now is affecting the rest of the world.”

Participants were asked six questions about their behaviors in the last year: whether they had sorted their garbage, talked about environmental issues with relatives or friends, recycled plastic packing bags, volunteered for environmental education programs, or participated in environmental litigation.

Liu and his colleagues found that people living in the country’s largest cities — such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin — were more likely to engage in environmentally conscious behaviors than those living in smaller cities.

Despite the commonly held notion that environmentalism is more prevalent among the wealthy, researchers did not find a correlation between income and “green” behaviors. Instead, they said simply being employed was a bigger factor. Liu speculated that this was because many Chinese employers host company-sponsored events to encourage environmental action.

In addition, big city dwellers are more likely to come into direct contact with pollution and other environmental issues in their daily lives, which may make them want to do something about those problems.

“What we found was that in big cities, people are more likely to take environmental action,” Liu said. “The big question is whether those actions will be enough.”

The study was published in Tuesday’s edition of the British journal Environmental Conservation.

Posted in Conservation, Recycling & Waste, Urban Development0 Comments

New States Require TV and PC Recycling

Four additional states have implemented laws banning electronic waste like old computers and televisions from going to landfills.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina now require consumers to recycle old electronics.

Similar measures are already in effect in a number of states, and with the most recent states to jump onboard included, 24 states now prohibit trashing electronic waste.

Most of the government mandates apply to computers, televisions, personal digital assistants, video game consoles and stereo parts, AP said.

Walter Alcorn of the Consumer Electronics Association told AP that the electronics industry is supportive of recycling, but he did express concern over differing policies in 24 states.

Posted in Electronic Waste, Recycling & Waste0 Comments

Obama Attacks Healthcare Fraud, Waste

WASHINGTON, March 10 (UPI) — U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday the healthcare system loses billions of dollars a year to fraud, waste, abuse and subsidies to insurance companies.

“Nowhere is reform more needed than when it comes to our healthcare system,” Obama said at a high school in suburban St. Louis.

“The healthcare system has billions of dollars that should go to patient care and they’re lost each and every year to fraud, to abuse, to massive subsidies that line the pockets of the insurance industry.”

He pointed to improper Medicare and Medicaid payments, which he said cost taxpayers $100 billion a year — more than the budgets of the Education Department and the Small Business Administration combined. “If we created a Department of Improper Payments,” the president said, “it would be one of the largest agencies in our government.”

The improper payments go to the wrong person, are sent for the wrong reason or are sent in the wrong amount, Obama said. Sometimes nobody’s checking to see where the money’s going; other times, it’s lost to “scam artists and fly-by-night operations,” he said.

Earlier Wednesday, Obama signed an order allowing government agencies to turn to private auditors to uncover fraudulent claims and payment errors. And he announced support for a bipartisan bill that would expand use of the audits.

He said the administration is combating wasteful and no-bid contracts through a new online database that also vets contractors.

Obama reiterated his call for quick congressional action on healthcare.

“What we’re proposing is a common-sense approach to protecting you from insurance company abuses and saving you money,” he said. “That’s the proposal, and it is paid for. And I believe that Congress owes the American people a final up-or-down vote on healthcare reform. The time for talk is over; it’s time to vote.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Education, Recycling & Waste0 Comments

Way Found to Dispose of Plastic with BPA

CHENNAI, India, Feb. 1 (UPI) — Researchers in India report fungi might provide an eco-friendly way of decomposing polycarbonate plastic waste that contains bisphenol A.

Mukesh Doble and Trishul Artham of the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai, (formerly Madras) said manufacturers produce about 2.7 million tons of plastic containing BPA each year. Polycarbonate is an extremely recalcitrant plastic, used in everything from screwdriver handles to eyeglass lenses, but some studies have suggested BPA may cause a range of adverse health effects. That has sparked the search for an environmentally safe way of disposing of waste plastic to avoid release of BPA.

In the new study, the scientists said they pretreated polycarbonate with ultraviolet light and heat and exposed it to three kinds of fungi. The researchers said the fungi grew better on pretreated plastic, using its BPA and other ingredients as a source of energy and breaking down the plastic.

After 12 months, there was nearly no decomposition of the untreated plastic, compared to substantial decomposition of the pretreated plastic, with no release of BPA.

The study is reported in the journal Biomacromolecules.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Consumer Waste, Recycling & Waste0 Comments

Radioactive Waste Including 5,408 Drums of Uranium Headed for Utah Landfill

SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 22 (UPI) — Utah state officials say they are ready to supervise the movement of low-level radioactive waste received from South Carolina into a specialized landfill.

The 5,408 drums of depleted uranium from the federal government’s Savannah River cleanup site in South Carolina arrived by train Sunday and were to be offloaded Tuesday about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City under the supervision of state inspectors, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The waste will be kept at the landfill temporarily so Utah regulators can finish updating disposal requirements needed to permanently bury the waste. The aim, the newspaper said, is to ensure Utah does not get stuck with radioactive waste that cannot be effectively contained at the permanent disposal site run by EnergySolutions Inc.

Dane Finerfrock, director of the Utah Division of Radiation Control, told the Tribune his staff arrived Monday to look over the shipping papers and check the manifests against the content of a sampling of drums.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Consumer Waste, Hazardous Waste, Landfills, Nuclear, Radiation, Recycling & Waste, Waste Disposal0 Comments

Plastic Bags Recycled into Batteries at Argonne National Laboratory

ARGONNE, Ill., Dec. 22 (UPI) — Plastic bags found in abundance at grocery stores could be recycled into carbon nanotubes, a component in lithium ion batteries, an Illinois scientist said.

Vilas Pol, of Argonne National Laboratory 25-miles southwest of Chicago, developed the process as a way to turn plastic waste into an energy resource, the Southtown Star reported Tuesday.

With cobalt acetate as a catalyst, plastic bags were heated to 1,292 degrees Fahrenheit, which caused the carbon in the plastic to grow as nanotubes on the cobalt particles, Pol said, noting the process could be used on plastic water bottles and plastic cups.

The cobalt acetate, which is relatively expensive, could be recovered when the batteries were recycled, Pol said. Performing the process without cobalt acetate yields carbon spheres that could be used in printer ink.

Yet to be determined is how to collect enough bags to make the project cost efficient, Pol said. Recycling programs find the bags difficult to collect because they often get swept up in air currents, causing a problem for curbside collectors and recycling centers.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Consumer Products, Consumer Waste, Electronic Waste, Electronics, House & Home, Packaging, Recycling, Recycling & Waste, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown: Climate Talk Progress Held for Ransom

LONDON, Dec. 21 (UPI) — The new global treaty was held hostage by some countries opposed to a deal in Copenhagen, Denmark, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday.

After nearly two weeks of stalled talks on a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol for curbing greenhouse gases, the countries approved a five-page document that recognizes the need to limit global temperatures from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius in 10 years, but doesn’t require signatories to take steps to address climate change. As explained by U.S. President Barack Obama Friday, countries will list “concrete commitments” into the document’s appendix, and would be subject to international consultation and analysis, leading to a hoped-for more binding document later.

Brown said the agreement — considered weak by environmental groups and some European leaders — called for reform of the way such negotiations occur, The Guardian reported.

Brown said the deal a “first step toward a new alliance to overcome the enormous challenges of climate change.” He also called on countries to show resolve to turn the agreement into a legally binding treaty.

“The talks in Copenhagen were not easy,” Brown said. “We must learn lessons from Copenhagen and the tough negotiations that took place. Never again should we face the deadlock that threatened to pull down these talks. Never again should we let a global deal to move towards a greener future be held to ransom by only a handful of countries.”

Looking ahead, Brown said the global community should consider international body to handle environmental stewardship.

“I believe that in 2010 we will need to look at reforming our international institutions to meet the common challenges we face as an international community,” Brown said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy & Fuels, International Relations & Treaties, Nature & Ecosystems, Policy, Law, & Government, Pollution & Toxins, Recycling & Waste0 Comments

Aircraft Recycling & Salvage Companies are Having a Big Year

LONDON, Dec. 18 (UPI) — Airplane salvage companies, which operate much like junk yards for cars, are having a banner year in Britain and elsewhere, an international trade group said.

Sky News, a British news service, said airlines are rushing to recycle equipment as funds are scarce in an industry hit hard by the recession.

“The industry is in turmoil and airlines are struggling to manage their costs,” said International Bureau of Aviation President Phil Seymour.

A used jet engine can be worth as much as $4.8 million and times are tough. “If you are an airline trying to cut costs do you really want to be buying new parts from Boeing?” Seymour asked.

Air Salvage International, a British firm that has salvaged 25 planes this year, had “our best year in the 15 years we’ve been operating,” said managing director Mark Gregory

About 80 percent of a salvaged airplane can be re-sold. Breaking one down can take as long as two months, Sky News said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Aviation, Cars, Consumer Waste, Recycling, Recycling & Waste, Reduce & Reuse, Transportation0 Comments

Landfills Still Filling Up in Northern California

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 25 (UPI) — Landfill operators in Northern California say it will take more than recycling to reduce the need for trash dumps in the coming years.

Tighter environmental regulations have led to some landfills in the San Francisco region to close, but at the same time has required other waste facilities to expand.

“We are on a path toward zero waste but we’re not there yet, and there’s a finite amount of landfill space in the Bay Area,” said Adam Alberti, spokesman for the waste-hauling company Recology. “A big part of it is that consumers need to change their behaviors — not just in recycling, but in consumption.”

The San Francisco Chronicle said Wednesday that Recology was seeking permits to begin shipping trash to Nevada by rail as some Bay Area dumps move closer to capacity or are shut down due to environmental concerns.

The newspaper said three landfills serving the area have either closed in the past four years on the verge of shutting down. Environmentalists say that causes more communities to truck their refuse farther to massive regional dumps.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Causes, Consumption, Landfills, Other, Recycling, Recycling & Waste, Regional0 Comments

Group Urges Less Waste During Holidays

ROCHESTER, Mich., Nov. 13 (UPI) — Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, U.S. residents generate an extra 1.2 million tons of waste per week, said the group Use Less Stuff.

In 1995, Use Less Stuff, a Michigan-based non-profit group, designated the third Thursday of November as a day of awareness of how much waste is produced during the holidays

Since then, the amount of holiday waste has grown by 20 percent, prompting Use Less Stuff to designate the entire week before Thanksgiving to awareness of holiday waste, Bob Lilienfeld, editor of the Use Less Stuff Report said in a release Friday.

If every U.S family reduced holiday gasoline consumption by one gallon a week, 6.5 million tons of climate-changing carbon dioxide would be prevented from entering the air, Lilienfeld said.

And if every U.S. family used just 2 feet less of holiday ribbon, the ribbon kept out of landfills would be equal to enough ribbon to circle the Earth twice, he said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Consumption, Landfills, Recycling & Waste0 Comments

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