Thursday, 28 January 2010

MRF = Mechanical Recovery Fallacy?

Greetings,

Following on from my previous post about a local manchester waste boss making a stand against deceptive waste management companies, I thought I should probably do something to explain what the real issue is and why we are so incensed about it.

There is quite a comprehensive article on Wikipedia which explains in detail what an MRF is and how it operates. In effective it is a facility which uses mechanical procedures to sort co-mingled recyclates into single waste streams, which in principal is a good thing as it allows for co-mingled (i.e. unsorted) waste to be collected which simplifies waste collection for the waste producer. However the problem is that it is an inherently inefficient system, as not all of the material collected can be sorted by the MRF correctly and there is still a considerable amount of material which has to be sent to landfill due to issues like cross-contamination (to produce high quality secondary materials the recyclate needs to be as clean as possible).

It is due to these operational inefficiencies that WRAP published a report in July last year advocating segregated kerbside collections as the most efficient method of domestic recyclate collection.

The main issue with using a MRF for recycling business waste is that you have no guarantee that the waste you send to be recycled actually will be. As far as I am concerned, if you don't know for definite that your company's waste is being recycled, you may as well be sending it directly to landfill! The very valid concern raised in my previous post is that whilst MRF-end recycling services provide an 'easier ' experience for waste producing businesses and their employees, the reality is that from a responsible, environmental and duty of care perspective you have no idea what is actually going to happen to your waste.

If we can all get used to recognising the value (and in some cases, toxicity) in everyday resources by establishing simple segregation systems in our home and work places and then using them consistently, not only will we be behaving more responsibly, but we can show the way, encouraging others to do the same and contributing to a 'virtuous circle' in turn helping our economy and the environment. Winner!

Onwards & upwards!

Lucy.

EMERGE 3Rs

Monday, 25 January 2010

Manchester Waste Boss Makes A Stand

Greetings,

I was really pleased to see a fellow local waste boss, Marcus Farmer is taking a stand against spurious claims made by waste contractors, many of whom are telling businesses that their waste is being recycled when in fact the majority of it is sent to landfill.

Ever since EMERGE's inception I've been an advocate of ensuring that waste is dealt with not only sustainably but also legally and responsibly. Wherever possible we ensure that our material reprocessors are as close as possible to Manchester, in some instances we have even rejected reprocessors who offer us better deals because of the inherent environmental impact of the longer journeys required to use their facilities.

It saddens me to think that there are operations like EMERGE dedicated to not only encouraging businesses to recycle but also doing their damndest to ensure they are legally compliant and minimising their environmental impact wherever possible who will lose business to 'cowboy' traders that will not dispose of waste in the manner their customers expect.

I'm all in favour of Marcus' stance and his complaint to trading standards for further investigation. For Manchester to achieve all of its goals for sustainability we need to ensure that only the most thorough, integrous, sustainable and legally compliant waste carriers are allowed to operate in our city.

Onwards & upwards!

Lucy.

EMERGE 3Rs

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Green To The Death!

Greetings,

A slightly morbid topic today, but have you ever wondered what you could to to help reduce the environmental impact of your death? I read this article about an environmental alternative to cremation. According to the article, an average cremation can produce as much as 400Kg of Carbon Dioxide. This so-called green alternative (called Resomation) uses an alkaline hydrolosis system which requires only 10% of the natural gas used in a normal cremation to reduce the human body to a extremely unpleasant sounding 'brown syrup'.

My main concern is that in order for this procedure to work, potassium hydroxide must be used to dissolve the tissue. I've spoken to one of my colleagues at EMERGE, who knows a lot more about chemistry than me and he says that the method used to manufacture Potassium Hydroxide is electrolysis, a hideously inefficient method which not only uses a considerable amount of electricity but also produces a significant amount of unpleasant chemical by-products. So before we even think about the waste outputs of resomation, the process already has a significant environmental footprint from the energy utilised.

After the resomation process has occured, the lovely syrup together with residual potassium hydroxide waste are then simply be poured down the drain according to the process information! Unless we are 100% certain that the potassium hydroxide has been fully neutralised, I'm not clear that we should encourage its disposal direct into our water systems. I can't imagine this is a responsible way to dispose of potentially hazardous chemical waste let alone any heavy metals potentially present from the liquidised body!

I'm all for progressive thinking and technological solutions and funerals are no less problematic than other areas of life - but perhaps there are simpler ways to go about it, for instance cardboard coffins and green burials.

Onwards & upwards!

Lucy.

EMERGE 3Rs

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Small Businesses Refuse To Buy Green?

Greetings,

I read an article the other day by freshbusinessthinking.com, normally they send me very useful articles about general business practice, written by someone well-informed in the industry.

I was quite suprised when I received this article: Small Businesses Refuse To Go Green from them. The article describes how a study conducted by Enterprise-Rent-A-Car shows that across the UK one in ten SMEs would refuse to use a greener alternative product even if it represented a cheaper, more convenient option for their business!

I've not been able to see the report itself, but part of me thinks actually the way this is reported is a total misrepresentation of the facts, surely if one in ten businesses refuse to consider a green alternative, doesn't that mean that nine in ten do? If so then 90% of businesses across the UK are happy to consider green alternative products, which sounds like good news to me!

Cost is named and shamed as the main reason why some SME's will not consider using green products, which for small businesses is understandable. If the cost of the green alternative is competative however, I cannot comprehend why any SME would not consider green alternatives.

Onwards & upwards!

Lucy.

EMERGE 3Rs

Friday, 8 January 2010

New Year, New Ideas?

Greetings,

I read an article on the Times website about a way to run your car on recycled materials, it seems that one entrepreneur has discovered that by blasting waste with highly presurrised steam in a rotating drum it is possible to extract the high-calorific organic materials which can then be reprocessed to produce bioethanol.

It sounds like a good way of treating organic materials, though plastics and metals will still have to be removed from the mix and treated in the normal manner. That said I would prefer people to spend their time and money looking at other ways of powering automobiles, i.e. hydrogen or renewably sourced electricity.

I'm convinced the future lies in encouraging people to waste less, to minimise their individual outputs and think before they buy. That said the more ways we have of treating the waste rather than burying it in a pit, the better!

Onwards & upwards!

Lucy.

EMERGE 3Rs

Friday, 1 January 2010

My New Years Resolution - 10:10

Greetings,

Phew! The new year is with us and once again the opportunity for new beginnings... Many of you will be thinking about resolutions and what you want from the year ahead. Whilst there will undoubtedly be a lot of people giving up various evils (cigarettes? cafeine, wine! and so on) I wonder if many people will be thinking about carbon?

I'd sincerely recommend to anyone who wants to commit to making a change in 2010, take a look at the 10:10 campaign website and sign up if you can. The more people who take part in making positive actions as set out by 10:10 the bigger the difference... whilst denial is a problem, defeatism is equally, it's all about creating a bigger, stronger critical mass.

In the spirit of goodwill towards all, peace, prosperity (without damaging our amazing planet!) I've signed up, made the pledge and will be doing my utmost to reduce my emissions by 10% in 2010 (loft re-insulation completed mid December so hopefully that's a good start!).

Happy carbon reducing New Year!

Lucy.

EMERGE 3Rs