Category Archives: waste management

6 Positive Facts About The Global Car Recycling Industry


Advances in the waste management sector – especially in car recycling – don’t get a lot of attention in the mainstream media, which means that lots of people often don’t realize quite how quickly it’s advancing. In particular, vehicle recycling laws and practices in the US, Canada and Europe are all contributing to an ever more sustainable global economy, and we’ve come a long way in just the last few years. To demonstrate, here are six of the most positive facts about the modern car recycling industry!

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The annual amount of hazardous fluids and oils safely reclaimed from recycled vehicles is equal to 8 Exxon Valdez disasters

The Exxon Valdez incident occurred in 1989, when an Exxon-owned oil tanker ran aground in Alaska and spilled over 10 million gallons of crude oil into the water. At the time, that sort of pollution was unheard of, making it one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters in history.

These days there’s a flipside – thanks to advances in the car recycling sector, at least eight times that amount of hazardous liquid is saved from going to landfill every single year. When you consider the scale involved, that’s quite an achievement!

Every year, 27 million cars are recycled across the globe

With those sorts of numbers, it’s easy to see why cars are officially the most recycled product in the world. Most first-world nations are forever evolving their car recycling infrastructure and capabilities, and in the last few months more and more developing nations are working on the issue, too.

This time last year, India announced its intention to remove millions of old cars from its streets, which are collectively responsible for intensive pollution. Many of these cars are only barely in working condition, and virtually none of them meet the environmental standards required of modern cars. India’s plan is to make the original manufacturers responsible for recycling them, which the government hopes will have the extra bonus of allowing for greater regulation and oversight within the country’s car recycling industry.

Millions of tonnes of material is saved by recycling cars every year – and dizzying amounts of energy, too!

When it comes to materials rescued from ELV (end-of-life) vehicles, metal is obviously always going to be the biggest group. Even knowing that, the numbers might surprise you. 14 million tonnes of steel is recycled annually from ELV cars. To put that into perspective, that’s enough to make roughly 2000 Eiffel Towers!

Zinc is another metal that’s heavily used in the construction of cars, mainly for plating protecting the bonnet, the fuel systems or the chassis. It’s chief advantage is that it’s highly resistant to corrosive materials like salt, which means it comes in useful every time salt is sprayed on roads to combat slippery surfaces in freezing conditions. Every year, 2.9 million tonnes of zinc is recovered from scrap vehicles, and 1.5 million of that becomes new scrap or residues.

And the bonuses don’t stop there – there are also massive energy savings, too. Annually, the steel industry is estimated to save enough energy to power about 18 million households for a year. Meanwhile, production for recycled zinc uses 76% less energy than processing virgin material. All in all, that means everyone on the planet gets to collectively enjoy the benefits just recycled material, while the energy savings take off just a bit of environmental pressure, too.

In Europe, 95% of each car is recycled by weight

Here’s something you may not have known: it’s not just the zinc plating, or the steel of the body – almost your entire car is recyclable. In fact, many new cars being manufactured today are estimated to contain around 25% scrap metal! In addition to the metal, windshields, batteries, upholstery and tyres are all other types of car parts that can be easily recycled.

This is largely thanks to the European Union, which is always looking for new ways to help its member nations establish and maintain circular economies. In recent years, its latest legislation has set continuously more ambitious recycling targets for its members to achieve. And speaking of which…

Britain has just exceeded its end-of-life vehicle recycling target from the European Union

Each set of statistics takes about two years to be compiled by the EU, and according to a recently published report, the UK’s 2015 performance in the car recycling sector rose from 90.7% to a record-breaking 96.9% – higher than figures recorded by Germany, France, Norway and Sweden.

This brings the UK well in line with the EU target of 95% we mentioned above, and the country has had two more years since then to build on that improvement. It sets an encouraging precedent for other nations – so let’s see what the stats say in 2020!

Car recycling creates hundreds of thousands of jobs, helping the global economy

These days, solid waste management uses a considerable amount of automated systems to process waste. Recycling, on the other hand, is more labor intensive, as it often requires keen eyes and human judgement (for example, by hand-picking potentially useful waste from a conveyor belt to sort it for re-use).  A report line from the Green Alliance examined the potential for the recycling sector to create 200,000 jobs in the next few years in Britain alone.

Some companies are already leading the way in this regard, most notably a top UK charity called Recycling Lives, based in the North West of England. Alongside its very own residential charity, Recycling Lives also owns and manages several commercial waste management schemes, including Scrap Car Network. The residential charity is closely supported and sustained by these commercial schemes, as they provide valuable work placements, training and often eventual employment for vulnerable people looking to put their lives together.

At the current rate of progress, the future of the car recycling industry still looks impressively optimistic, especially with more countries than ever looking to improve their rate of vehicle recycling. With any luck, we can hope for more of the same from other sectors of the overall recycling industry in years to come!

Image credit: Michael

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

Plastic Bags: A Matter of Convenience or Curse on the Environment


It is intriguing when you look at how scientifically advanced western nations have become and yet there has been no viable alternative to plastic bags successfully developed and implemented. Plastic packaging is still used on thousands of products and a very substantial part of it ends up as landfill. Some plastic items are being recycled and there has been a push by Governments particularly with recycling drink bottles. But the level of plastic packaging is still very high and is becoming a curse on the environment.

There has been an increasing level of plastic waste, particularly as countries continue to be accepting of its use in daily life as convenient and affordable even with increasing affluence. The waste management systems of countries are no longer able to effectively handle the increasing quantities. In addition, local disposal practices are not appropriate and allow plastics to pollute the environment.

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Adding to this was a report released in 2016 that stated that the weight of the plastic pollution in the oceans by 2050 would be greater than the weight of the fish in the oceans.
There has been a recent push to reduce the use of plastic bags for grocery shopping. Many shops now will offer an alternative reusable shopping bag that could be made from organic materials or even recycled plastic that has been branded by them in some way.

However, many people still continue to use the plastic bags as they are convenient. In some countries, the Government has introduced legislation to prevent plastic bags from being offered at shops and some large supermarkets have themselves decided that they will become plastic bag free.

This change in a simple social dynamic is clearly an effective way to reduce the use of plastic bags in western nations but there are still many countries where the use of the plastic bag crosses into many areas of use. In countries throughout Asia, the plastic bag is used to hold the actual liquid of drinks with ice and a straw. It is used for condiments that accompany a takeaway order. It is used to carry your takeaway order that you can take home and reheat.

Almost every time you buy something it will be given to you in a plastic bag. It is just how things are done. And the system for the disposal of rubbish sometimes does not really manage the disposal of plastic very well. You are able to travel across Asia and see plastic bags lining the roads or all across the ground in poorer parts of the towns. The wind blows them around and the rain washes them into the mud or into rivers.

It is a serious problem that has been recognized by many Governments in the region but not one that is really captured the attention of senior-level influential figures. The focus tends to be on other business development and health activities. There have however been some efforts made to identify suitable alternatives.

In Indonesia, there has been a whole range of products developed by a local businessman who was unhappy with there being such a large amount of plastic pollution around Bali. His company has developed bags for products which are made from cassava, coffee cups and takeaway bowls made of paper lined with cornstarch, a takeaway food box made from sugar cane and drinking straws that have been developed from paper and a waxy material from plants. The coffee cups and fast food bowls are able to be used for hot items and will biodegrade effectively when thrown away.

Indonesia is an island nation and so much of the plastic that goes into the rivers is then likely to go into the ocean. It has been recognized as a major polluter of its oceans and it is clear that there need to be new approaches brought to resolve this situation with appropriate support from the Government and businesses. These products are so safe that they are even able to be eaten although you would not get any nutritional benefit and the taste may not be so good. However, for sea life this is a great advantage as ingesting plastic has been an ongoing problem in recent years.

Changing the way that people view the use of plastic will have to be the way that most Governments need to address the problem. Changing the way that people behave will need to be influenced by Government legislation and support from industry but there must also be a convenient alternative that people are able to use.

Plastic is already a man-made pollutant that has spread across our environment. It is negatively impacting the environment across a range of regions. Governments need to find ways to ensure that efforts are made to limit the use of plastic and part of this could be consideration of the use of plastic alternatives.

The UN is not a strong advocate for plastic alternatives and is instead focusing on working with large businesses to reduce their plastic use. The UN considers that plastic alternatives are more costly and will be unlikely to appeal to the market because of this. However, it has not completely closed the door and says that there needs to be more learned about the industry to identify if it will be part of a broader environmental solution.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)

How Open Defecation Affects Human Health and Environment and its Solutions


Open defecation is the empting of bowels in the open without the use of properly designed structures built for handling of human waste such as toilets. Open defecation is particularly associated with rural and poverty stricken regions of the world, especially Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Open defecation statistics from around the world have shown a statistical relationship between the regions that have the highest percentage of those that do not use toilets or other human waste facilities and low education or poverty. The World Bank Statistics suggest that regions with high rates of open defecation experiences tremendous problem in terms of sanitation and proper waste management.

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According to Wikipedia,

Open defecation is the human practice of defecating outside—in the open. In lieu of toilets, people use fields, bushes, forests, open bodies of water or other open space. The practice is common where sanitation infrastructure is not available. About 892 million people, or 12 percent of the global population, practice open defecation.

Reasons for Open Defecation

The reasons that have been given for people who don’t use toilets have either been poverty that makes it a challenge to build latrines or lack of government support in providing such facilities. In cases where the toilets are available but people still end up preferring opened defecation, the reasons can extend to cultural issues related with sharing toilets among family members.

An example is a case where it is forbidden for a man to share the same toilet with his daughter in law. In some other cases, people end up preferring open air defecation due to the freedom it gives them as opposed to using a small dark structure or the displeasure in using toilets that are filthy or not clean.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India accounts for 59 per cent of the 1.1 billion people in the world who practice open defecation leading to some serious negative effects on both their own health and the environment. Let’s look at the how open defecation affects human health and the environment

Effects on Human Health

1. Water borne diseases

Diarrhoea and other problems associated with the ingesting and exposure to human waste affect children under the age of 5 years the most since they are very susceptible to diseases. This exposure is because most of open defecation happens next to water ways and rivers. In urban areas, this can include the drainage systems that are usually meant to traffic rain water away from urban areas into natural water ways.

Such areas are often preferred because open defecators have a belief that the water washes away their waste. What they seem to forget is that most of such areas are not properly empowered to treat the water to remove human waste and the microbes that move with it. Such a practice is contrary to proper sewage channels that treats waste black water and channel it into water systems free of any disease causing germs afterwards.

Therefore, the result of open defecation near water ways is that it is carried into the water system minus treatment. As a consequence, the contaminated water ends up in the main water source. When people in these regions use the water as it for drinking and cooking (since the water is not boiled most of the time because of poverty and lack of education) it results in water borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and trachoma.

2. Vector borne diseases

Apart from water borne diseases, when the human waste collects into heaps, it attracts flies and other insects. These flies then travel around the surrounding areas, carrying defecate matter and disease causing microbes, where they then land on food and drink that people go ahead and ingest unknowingly. In such cases, the flies act as direct transmitters of diseases such as cholera.

3. Compounding the problem of disease exposure

The saddest fact about disease transmission caused by open defecation is the cyclic nature of problems that then begin to manifest. The most common diseases caused by this unsanitary act are increased cases of diarrhoea, regular stomach upsets and poor overall health. With diarrhoea, for instance, it means that people cannot make their way to distant places due to the urgency of their calls of nature, so they pass waste close to where they have their bowel attacks.

It simply ends up creating more of the same problems that started the disease in the first place and in turn, leads to more people catching diseases and less people using the facilities. The result of this is more sick people and more opportunities for the disease to spread.

4. Malnutrition in children

Malnutrition in children is another health problem associated with open defecation. Once a child is a victim of one of the diseases passed on due to the lack of proper sanitation and hygiene, they begin to lose a lot of fluids and lack of appetite for food. As a result, it gives rise to many cases of malnutrition in children.

Also, the situation is worsened by intestinal worm attacks passed through the human refuse. Altogether, these problems lead to stunted growth and weakened immune system that makes the child more susceptible to other diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Effects on the Environment

1. Contamination via microbes

The environment also suffers as a result of open defecation because it introduces toxins and bacteria into the ecosystem in amounts that it cannot handle or break down at a time. This leads to build up of filth. Also, the load of microbes can become so great that in the end, they end up in aquatic systems thereby causing harm to aquatic life.

At the same time, it can contribute to eutrophication or the formation of algal blooms that form disgusting scum on the surface of the water ways which disturb aquatic life underneath the water by preventing oxygen and light diffusion into the water.

2. Visual and olfactory pollution

Heaps of human or just the sight of it cause eyesore and nauseate anyone who is close. The stink emanating from the refuse is also highly unappealing and pollutes the surrounding air. Such places also attract large swarms that make the area completely unattractive for the eye.

For all those unfortunate to see the regions affected, it creates a sorry sight and reduces the dignity of all those living in the squalor of those regions. The smells augment the problem by disgusting those who live within the affected regions making life awful.

Solutions of Open Defecation

To solve this issue, it takes the action of individuals and even the intervention of the government to address the cultural, economic and social challenges in tandem.

1. Provision of toilets

First, there is a need to ensure that there are enough toilets. Since these regions are usually very poor, it will take the efforts of the government as well as the good will of local organisations such as CBOs and NGOs to help fix the problem. Construction of pit latrines and other toilet options such as compost toilets is necessary to help deal with the problem of lacking sewer systems. Governments should also try to establish incentives for people to build their own toilets by providing subsidies and putting up public toilets in strategic locations. 

2. Corrective civil education

Another platform that needs to be addressed is the negative cultural association that people have with toilets. The people should be informed and given civic education to enable them break away from their cultural beliefs on issues such as the fact that toilets are not supposed to be shared.

In other words, cultural norms and beliefs must be changed over time through education and awareness creation. With time, people can become informed and drop the beliefs or at least adjust and make concessions about the ones that are most destructive.

3. Incentivise public hygiene participation

By creating government programs that encourage sanitation and personal hygiene, individuals must be involved and forced to take up the responsibility of enhancing their hygiene as well as overall health.

Through such programs, people can get to learn the importance of their environments and work towards ensuring that they do not harm themselves by partaking in open defecation. It eventually reduces healthcare burdens on the government and lessens the number of those who practice open defecation as it will be seen as a terrible activity.

Image credit: flickr

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)