Recycling is not as simple as it looks

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Recycling is not as simple as it looks

12wonderY
Mar 19, 2019, 4:52 pm

China is no longer taking our plastics. Much of it is being landfilled or burned this year.

Aluminum ~

Aluminum Makers Ditch Can Business

Used cans are piling up at scrapyards because U.S. aluminum companies are turning fewer of them into new metal, another indication of the economic challenges facing recycling.

Arconic Inc. and other aluminum rollers are producing less sheet for beverage cans and more higher-margin, flat-rolled aluminum for automotive and industrial components. Prices for used aluminum cans in the U.S. have fallen about 30% since last summer. Old cans are less versatile than other scrap. The makers of airplane and car parts prefer not to use aluminum made from recycled cans. More new cans in the U.S. are made from imported aluminum.

22wonderY
Maio 9, 2019, 8:26 am

Breakthrough discovery could lead to 100 percent recyclable plastics, scientists say

The study, published in Nature Chemistry, details how the researchers were able to discover a new way to assemble the plastics and reuse them "into new materials of any color, shape, or form."

“Most plastics were never made to be recycled,” said lead author Peter Christensen, a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, in the statement. “But we have discovered a new way to assemble plastics that takes recycling into consideration from a molecular perspective.”

Known as poly(diketoenamine), or PDK, the new type of plastic material could help stem the tide of plastics piling up at recycling plants, as the bonds PDK forms are able to be reversed via a simple acid bath, the researchers believe.

"Poly(diketoenamine)s ‘click’ together from a wide variety of triketones and aromatic or aliphatic amines, yielding only water as a by-product," the study's abstract reads. "Recovered monomers can be re-manufactured into the same polymer formulation, without loss of performance, as well as other polymer formulations with differentiated properties. The ease with which poly(diketoenamine)s can be manufactured, used, recycled and re-used—without losing value—points to new directions in designing sustainable polymers with minimal environmental impact."

Though PDK only exists in the lab currently (meaning products won't be available for purchase for some time), the researchers are nonetheless excited by what they've discovered and the potential positive impact it could have.

“With PDKs, the immutable bonds of conventional plastics are replaced with reversible bonds that allow the plastic to be recycled more effectively,” Helms added. "We’re interested in the chemistry that redirects plastic lifecycles from linear to circular. We see an opportunity to make a difference for where there are no recycling options.”

32wonderY
Maio 9, 2019, 11:56 am

Multi-stream vs Single stream recycling

The Era Of Easy Recycling May Be Coming To An End

Most recycling programs in the United States are now single stream. Between 2005 and 2014, these programs went from covering 29 percent of American communities to 80 percent, according to a survey conducted by the American Forest and Paper Association. The popularity makes sense given that single-stream is convenient and a full 66 percent of people surveyed by Harris Poll last October said that they wouldn’t recycle at all if it wasn’t easy to do.
...
But it also pretty closely tracks with skyrocketing contamination rates.

Some of that is on us, tossing things in the bin that either don’t belong there or should have gone in the trash can to begin with. “We get a lot of diapers,” said Anne Germain, vice president of technical and regulatory affairs with the National Waste and Recycling Association. There are also electronics and batteries, plastic grocery bags and Christmas lights — all of which can be recycled, but only through specialty drop-off programs, not the curbside bin. There are perfectly recyclable cans and paper coated in food, grease or cleaning fluids that render them unrecyclable. There are plastic bottles full of glass syringe needles that break open at the sorting facilities like a piñata from hell.
But some of the problems with contaminated recycling are endemic to the process of single-sort itself, said Susan Collins, executive director of the nonprofit Container Recycling Institute. “The trucks are constantly compacting, smashing the materials together,” she said. “The glass breaks and shards get into the plastic and the paper. Aluminum cans and plastic bottles that get smashed have the same profile as the paper does.”

And all that means that the facilities where your curbside recycling goes to be sorted have more trouble, well, sorting it out. These facilities use machines to separate different types of materials from one another. The machines sometimes can’t tell the difference between a flattened water bottle, a well-squashed tin can and a piece of paper. One out of 6 bottles and 1 in 3 cans end up sorted and shipped out wrong, Collins told me. And the machines can’t un-grind glass shards from the fibers of a cardboard box or pick tiny bits of paper and plastic from piles of half-broken glass. “By the time the so-called glass gets to glass processing facility, it’s really glass mixed with 30 to 50 percent other stuff, which is trash,” Collins said.

There’s some evidence that this contamination can be high enough that it ends up counteracting any increase in the volume of material you got from the ease of single-sort. A 2002 study, for example, compared five different methods of recycling collection in the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, with the city’s then-current multi-sort system. Single-stream recycling produced the highest rate of loss at the processing stage — essentially, the most stuff put in recycling bins that couldn’t actually be recycled. Compared with the existing system, gross tons of recycling collected at the curb increased by 20 percent, but there was a net decrease of 12 percent in tons of material that left the sorting facility ready for recycling.

(me: I see this confusion with disposal categories every time I drop off my own recyclables at the municipal bins. If I can reach, I pull china crockery and non-container glassware out from the glass bin and send it off to Goodwill.)

4PossMan
Maio 27, 2019, 7:50 am

Shipping to somewhere else doesn't seem a satisfactory solution either. China is no longer accepting waste but there's an article in today's "The Times" (London) about a large dump in the Malaysian jungle together with picture of UK waste. Plastic bags from various supermarkets including Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsburys, Asda and M&S. Some can be identified as being from all over the UK and some are council recycling bags suggesting that those disposing of the waste were expecting it to be recycled and not shipped halfway across the world. There was also waste from Germany, France, Spain, Japan. Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall is quoted as saying that he used to feel a moral high by being very good on recycling but after seeing this in Malaysia feels embarassed and ashamed and lied to about our country's recycling programme.

5John5918
Maio 28, 2019, 12:26 am

Treated like trash: south-east Asia vows to return mountains of rubbish from west (Guardian)

Region begins pushback against deluge of plastic and electronic waste from UK, US and Australia

6PossMan
Jun 10, 2019, 7:35 am

An article in "The Conversation" covering international trade in rubbish and how things might be made better (emphasis on UK but some general points)

https://theconversation.com/recycling-why-you-cant-just-throw-anything-in-the-co...

72wonderY
Jun 17, 2019, 4:29 pm

The Guardian is ramping up their coverage. Good thing, too.

Where does your plastic go? Global investigation reveals America's dirty secret

Reflecting grave concerns around plastic waste, last month, 187 countries signed a treaty giving nations the power to block the import of contaminated or hard-to-recycle plastic trash. A few countries did not sign. One was the US.

A new Guardian series, United States of Plastic, will scrutinize the plastic crisis engulfing America and the world, publishing several more stories this week and continuing for the rest of 2019.

“People don’t know what’s happening to their trash,” said Andrew Spicer, who teaches corporate social responsibility at the University of South Carolina and sits on his state’s recycling advisory board. “They think they’re saving the world. But the international recycling business sees it as a way of making money. There have been no global regulations – just a long, dirty market that allows some companies to take advantage of a world without rules.”

A study released this spring by the environmental group Gaia documented the human toll of US plastics exports on the countries that receive them.

“The impact of the shift in plastic trade to south-east Asian countries has been staggering – contaminated water supplies, crop death, respiratory illness from exposure to burning plastic, and the rise of organized crime abound in areas most exposed to the flood of new imports,” the report found.

“These countries and their people are shouldering the economic, social and environmental costs of that pollution, possibly for generations to come.”

8margd
Nov 24, 2019, 1:48 am

Rare Earth Minerals Could Be Sourced Through Outdated Smartphones, Batteries, Wind Turbines
Natalie Parletta | Nov 21, 2019

From smartphones and computer screens to rechargeable batteries and military weapons, rare earth elements with unique magnetic and electronic properties increasingly pervade our modern lives. Renewable energy solutions also rely on them, making these metals even more imperative.

To meet growing demand, people are turning to domestic mines, the ocean and even the moon. Yet there is a steady supply of these elements all around us, in smartphones and other gadgets, that are ripe for the harvest.

Recycling these to extract the minerals could help prevent toxic pollution from the complex extraction process needed to mine them, protecting humans, the environment and marine life – it’s a sustainable solution waiting for governments and entrepreneurs to fund and translate the science needed to make it possible.

...Currently, less than 1% of rare earth elements are recycled. And the big returns will come when solar panels, wind turbines and other large sources of rare earth elements reach the end of their life – which smart innovators will prepare for.

“Much of what we need to recycle that has rare earths and other precious metals won’t hit the waste stream in a massive way for another decade,” says Phadke. “We need to invest now to create the recycling infrastructure to accept those flows, and the technology to separate, refine and reuse the metals.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/natalieparletta/2019/11/21/rare-earth-minerals-coul...

9PossMan
Nov 24, 2019, 9:58 am

Sounds like a good idea — I've got an small electronic device in the car boot waiting for my next visit to the local recycling centre. But with small items like this there's always the temptation to just chuck them in the wheelie bin (destined for landfill). And I often wonder what actual happens to items in the recycling centre. Here in Inverness they can't process window envelopes which make up at a guess well over 95% of items that come in the mail although I believe this is done down south.

10margd
Nov 24, 2019, 1:18 pm

We could start a shore wall with some of the monitors etc. we've kept around!

11margd
Ago 24, 2021, 8:06 am

Ontario has such a law. Along with the "right to repair" law it can make a big difference in extent of
prevent, reuse and recycle.

Maine Will Make Companies Pay for Recycling. Here’s How It Works.
Winston Choi-Schagrin | July 21, 2021

The law aims to take the cost burden of recycling away from taxpayers. One environmental advocate said the change could be “transformative"...

...Maine has implemented a new law that could transform the way packaging is recycled by requiring manufacturers, rather than taxpayers, to cover the cost. Nearly a dozen states have been considering similar regulations and Oregon is about to sign its own version in coming weeks...

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/21/climate/maine-recycling-law-EPR.html

12margd
Nov 20, 2021, 1:16 pm

Your drawer full of old tech could have a new life — or start a fire. Here’s how to handle it.
E-waste is a growing problem, but there are ways to avoid making it worse.
Chris Velazco | September 28, 2021

...Smartphones
Smart alarm clock: Apps such as “Alarm Clock for Me” can turn old iPhones and Android devices into helpful bedside clocks. And if those phones support always-on voice commands for Siri or Google Assistant, you could also use them to control some of your smart home gadgets without getting out of bed.
Security camera: Apps such as Alfred can turn old phones into makeshift security cameras you can check remotely from your current phone or from the web.
Smart TV remotes: Rokus and Apple TVs come with tiny remotes, and they’re very easy to lose track of around the living room. With the right apps, though, your old phone could become a remote for your media streaming device — and one you can type names of shows into, no less.

Tablets
Dedicated video call station: If your tablet has a half-decent front-facing camera, it might make for a decent video calling machine. Load it up with Zoom, Facebook Messenger or Skype and keep it on a countertop or your desk. Note: Much older tablets may struggle with this. If that’s the case, consider the following.
Digital photo frame: You probably bought the tablet for its screen size, so put it to good use again by displaying your photos on it. Apple’s Photos app for iPads has a built-in tool to create looping slide shows from pictures in an album, and the Google Photos website lets you do the same on Android or Apple devices.

Computers
Media server: If you have loads of home movies or legitimately acquired digital versions of films taking up hard drive space, there’s an easy way to get them running on your TV: put them all on an older computer (or an external hard drive connected to one) and install the media server app Plex. After a little setup, install the corresponding Plex app on your smart TV or streaming device, and you can watch all those classics on the big screen.
Donate it: Some organizations accept donations of old computers for various causes. Your mileage will vary depending on where you live, but Digitunity is a helpful place to start: You can punch in your Zip code to see if nearby schools or nonprofit groups could benefit from your old hardware.

Responsible recycling...
Local programs: Many state and local governments offer guidance on what residents should do with their e-waste on their websites, and some operate sites where you can drop off old electronics to be recycled. You can also tap into databases like the one run by Earth 911 to find local recyclers that would be willing to accept aging and unusable tech for recycling.
Big-box stores: Some of the same places where you purchased your tech will take them when they’re no longer usable. Best Buy lets you bring your aging tech into certain stores — from there, it gets sent to the company’s recycling partners, which will see if it can be repurposed before breaking it down. Staples’ recycling program works very similarly. Meanwhile, Office Depot and Office Max will sell you a box you can fill with old tech and bring it into a store for shipment and recycling by a third-party.
Tech companies: In some cases, you can send old devices back to the companies that made them. Apple will accept its own products for recycling, and in some cases will give you a credit that can be applied to new purchases. The computer maker Dell — which shipped more than 12 million new PCs in the second quarter of 2021 — accepts shipments of old electronics of any brand to be recycled. That said, Dell’s track record with recycling isn’t completely free of blemishes.

What about batteries?
...check out Call2Recycle.org. This organization offers a handy tool that lets you find places to drop off rechargeable batteries for recycling, and will even show stores or facilities that accept single-use batteries if that’s something your town supports. Earth 911, which we mentioned earlier, is also a great resource for finding local facilities and businesses that handle rechargeable and single-use batteries. And you can use both to find places where you can drop off old phones, whether they have removable batteries or not.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/09/28/how-to-recycle-repurpose-e-...

132wonderY
Nov 20, 2021, 1:52 pm

I spoke to a remarkable young man at the library this month. He was teaching me about 3-D printing. He told of using parts from inside old desktop computers in entirely new ways. He also explained how you upgrade the basic printer by printing parts. He showed how he designed a rooftop weather station, using old parts, off-the-shelf parts, and CAD 3-D printing.

14margd
Dez 8, 2021, 4:43 am

Tips for Recycling Computers, Phones, & Other E-waste Successfully
Daniel Dern | Oct 14, 2021

https://earth911.com/eco-tech/recycle-computers-smartphones/

152wonderY
Dez 8, 2021, 4:56 am

>14 margd: Definitely comes in handy at this moment for me. Thanks!

16margd
Dez 8, 2021, 5:04 am

We used to joke that we'd build a breakwall with our monitors... :D

17margd
Fev 15, 2022, 12:03 pm

Engineers are building bridges with recycled wind turbine blades
Repurposing the blades could help solve a major waste challenge
Maddie Stone | Feb 11, 2022

...Creative solutions will be necessary to deal with the wind turbine blade waste that’s coming. Averaging over 150 feet in length and weighing upwards of a dozen tons each, wind turbine blades take up huge amounts of space in landfills. Once there, the ultra-sturdy, fiber-reinforced plastics they’re made of don’t break down easily. Decommissioned wind turbine blades, if they’re not just stockpiled, are often destined for landfills today. The main alternative, incinerating them for energy, creates additional pollution.
"“It was a no-brainer that this needed to be investigated”"

That could change if ideas like blade bridges take off. Marcin Sobczyk, a product developer at Anmet, the company behind Poland’s new blade bridge, tells The Verge that wind blades often have decades of life left in them after a turbine is decommissioned. And the same material properties that make blades good at harnessing wind power — strength, lightweightness, and all-weather durability — also make them attractive as engineering support structures...

https://www.theverge.com/2022/2/11/22929059/recycled-wind-turbine-blade-bridges-...

18margd
Ago 25, 2022, 10:56 am

Wind Turbine Blades Could Be Recycled Into Gummy Bears Someday
Monisha Ravisetti | Aug. 24, 2022

...scientists from Michigan State University, on Monday, offered their blueprints of an innovative way to address this issue. They developed a new form of wind turbine material that combines glass fibers with both plant-derived and synthetic polymers, which refer to long chains of molecules. The mixture is called a composite resin, and its hype lies in the fact that it can be recycled a lot more easily than pure fiberglass can.

...Basically, the team's novel resin can be separated into its constituent parts when its job as a wind turbine structure is complete. Crucially, this means the hard-to-handle glass fiber bits can be removed. Then, the resulting goop can be recast into new wind turbines, as well as a wide variety of other materials. And I mean wide.

It merely depends on which of the mixture's constituents you decide to pull out and manipulate.

When the researchers digested the resin in an alkaline solution, for instance, they received an acrylic substance that can be used in making windows and car tail lights. Raise the temperature during digestion and that yields a super-absorbent polymer instead, one often called on when making diapers.

This resin can also reincarnate as household countertops when melded with various minerals. "We've recently made a bathroom sink with the cultured stone, so we know it works," Dorgan said. And the dissolved material can be combined with plastics too, which gives rise to more luxe items, like laptop covers and power tools.

"We recovered food-grade potassium lactate and used it to make gummy bear candies, which I ate," Dorgan said. Not a Haribo fan? This chemical can also be made into sports drinks akin to Gatorade.

And if you're grossed out by the idea of eating a gummy version or a fruity beverage concoction built from an old wind turbine, Dorgan emphasizes that "a carbon atom derived from a plant, like corn or grass, is no different from a carbon atom that came from a fossil fuel ... it's all part of the global carbon cycle, and we've shown that we can go from biomass in the field to durable plastic materials and back to foodstuffs."

However, it's also important to note that so far, the team has manufactured only a prototype of its invention. And to get from prototype to final product, Dorgan explained, there's a bit of a limitation: "There's not enough of the bioplastic that we're using to satisfy this market, so there needs to be considerable production volume brought online if we're going to actually start making wind turbines out of these materials."

But should that hurdle be cleared, we may enter an era where our Macbook cases, iPhone charging cables, sturdy kitchenware and even gelatinous snacks are laced with the remnants of a veteran blade that once lived among the clouds.

https://www.cnet.com/science/climate/wind-turbine-blades-could-be-recycled-into-...

19margd
Out 30, 2023, 11:55 am

Disposing of a mattress is ridiculously hard. So is the wider struggle to manage waste
Questions over who should bear costs linger as Ontario lags behind recycling targets
Aya Dufour | Oct 30, 2023

...It costs about $30 to recycle a mattress, versus an estimated $68 to bury it – that is, if you consider Sudbury's landfill space to be monetizable...

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/landfill-how-to-dispose-of-a-mattress-rec...

202wonderY
Nov 28, 2023, 6:32 am

212wonderY
Fev 6, 10:28 pm

France is going back to glass containers with deposits and other incentives for recycling. Glass has 85% fewer carbon emissions than single use containers.

https://www.instagram.com/p/C3Av6Gdi-Rp/?igsh=MWhpZjVrNnp2dXl0Yg==

22margd
Abr 3, 2:39 pm

A son worked in a recycling facility in US, and it was only slightly less scary than video below. Materials were sorted on a conveyor belt, and sometimes they had to un-jam it. So happy that for him it was short gig: "green" recycling is not at all fun once it leaves our bins.

Science girl @gunsnrosesgirl3 | 12:47 AM · Mar 9, 2024:
Recycling plastic bags Into furniture,
But look at this process,
What do you think?

1:01 ( https://twitter.com/gunsnrosesgirl3/status/1766340053003805159 )
From Wonderful Moment

23SandraArdnas
Abr 3, 5:11 pm

>22 margd: I think most of those things do not qualify as recycling at all. Aside from burning stuff all around, it is virtually impossible to organize recycling without conveyor belts and generally an organized system even for medium sized city like mine, let alone a metropolis. Even just pick up of recyclables is better organized than that guy shoving stuff into dubious machines with dubious results. Where was that filmed?

24margd
Abr 3, 5:25 pm

By Xudong--Chinese name?
The fellows in the film have fairly heavy beards, so I assume they were S Asians?

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