Sep 132017
 

Plastic Ain’t so Fantastic

It is now believed that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that mass, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea. (1)

Shoppers worldwide are using approximately 500 billion single-use plastic bags per year.

This translates to about a million bags every minute across the globe, or 150 bags a year for every person on earth.  And the number is rising.

  • If you joined them end on end they would circumnavigate the globe 4,200 times.
  • 100,000 marine creatures a year die from plastic entanglement and these are the ones found.
  • Approximately 1 million sea birds also die from plastic.
  • A plastic bag can kill numerous animals because they take so long to disintegrate. An animal that dies from the bag will decompose and the bag will be released, another animal could harmlessly fall victim and once again eat the same bag.
  • The floods in Bangladesh in 1988 & 1998 were made more severe because plastic bags clogged drains. The government has now banned plastic bags.
  • In Ireland they introduced a 15c plastic bag tax and reduced their usage by 90% in one year. It is now 22 cents.
  • The #1 man made thing that sailors see in our ocean are plastic bags.
  • There are believed to be 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean.
  • There are 5 ocean gyres in the world where plastic gathers due to current circulation. These gyres contain millions of pieces of plastic and our wildlife feed in these grounds.
  • It can take anything between 20-1000 years for a plastic bag to break up. I mean break up as they break up into smaller pieces. They don’t break down and those that do, break down into polymers and toxic chemicals.
  • It costs US$4,000 to recycle 1 tonne of plastic bags and you get a product that can be sold on the commodities market for US$32. We must stop them because recycling is not viable.
  • It takes just 4 family shopping trips to accumulate 60 shopping bags.
  • World wide, 13,000-15,000 pieces of plastic are dumped into the ocean every day.
  • Every year, 6.4 million tonnes are dumped into the ocean. This is the same as 3,200 kilometres of trucks each loaded with garbage.
  • At least two thirds of the world’s fish stocks are suffering from plastic ingestion.
  • Ocean acidification is a growing problem
  • Scientists have identified 200 areas declared as ‘dead zones’ where no life organisms can now grow.

In Australia

  • Australia alone uses 6.9 billion plastic bags a year of which 3.6 billion are plastic shopping bags.
  • If you tied 6.9 billion plastic bags together end on end they would travel around the world 42.5 times.
  • Australians dump 36,700 tonnes of plastic bags into our landfill every year. That equates to 4,000 bags a minute or 230,000 per hour
  • Only 10% of Australians take their plastic bags for recycling
  • It costs the Australian government in excess of $4 million to clean up plastic bag litter each year.
  • If each Australian family used 1 less plastic bag each week that would be 253 million bags less a year.
  • Less than 1% of plastic bags in Australia are reused.
  • If you imagine a piece of plastic 1m wide. As a conservative guestimate, a length of this plastic 40km long is produced each day and this is for one brand of toilet paper packaging. For bread you can triple the length (120km long)

Bottled Water Story

More than a billion people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water. Most countries that buy bottled water have the luxury of quality tap water, yet despite this:

  • Australians spend more than half a billion dollars a year on bottled water. Australia produced 582.9 million litres of bottled water in 2009-10
  • Producing and delivering a litre of bottled water can emit hundreds of times more greenhouse gases than a litre of tap water.
  • In many cases, a litre of bottled water is more expensive than a litre of petrol.
  • Australia recycles only 36% of PET plastic drink bottles. Assuming the 582.9 million litres of bottled water produced in 2009-10 is in litre bottles, according to these figures, 373 million of those bottles will end up as waste.
  • In South Australia , which has Container Deposit Legislation, the plastic bottle recycling rate is 74%. A 2007 national Newspoll commissioned by Clean Up Australia found that of those polled, 82% support a CDL scheme of 10c on bottles.
  • Australia ’s annual use of bottled water generates more than 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions – the same amount that 13,000 cars generate over the course of a year.
  • Approximately 15,253.79 tonnes of PET was used in the packaging of bottled water in 2009-10.
  • The manufacture of every tonne of PET produces around 3 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). In Australia , bottling water has thus created more than 45.7 thousand tonnes of CO2 in 2009-10, excluding the significant amounts of CO2 produced in the transportation and refrigeration of bottled water.
  • Approximately 52.5 million litres of oil was used in 2009-10 to produce the PET used to package bottled water in Australia , excluding the energy used in transportation and refrigeration.
  • More energy is used to fill the bottles, move them by truck, train, ship, or air, refrigerate them and recover, recycle or discard the empty bottles. The Pacific Institute estimates that the total amount of energy embedded in the use of bottled water can be as high as the equivalent of filling a plastic bottle one quarter full with oil. Therefore, more than 145.7 million litres of oil was used in the production, transportation, refrigeration and recycling/disposing of bottled water in Australia in 2009-10.

Prevention is better than a cure.

 
Sources
(1) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150109-oceans-plastic-sea-trash-science-marine-debris
(2) Clean Up Australia provided most of Australian Statistics.
(3) Plastic Pollution Coalition Website and articles provided a lot of the rest.

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Mike Prettyman Chief Information Officer, Green Fire Engineered Reclamation, Member GreenFire DAO Whatsapp only Phone: 1-602-315-1571 Skype: mike.prettyman Website: http://greenfirefunding.com email: greenfirereclamation@gmail.com

Aug 282017
 

Role of landfill pollution in global warming matrix

August 28, 2017 

When issues of pollution are discussed, reported and presented, it’s normally the discourse of air pollution that supersedes that of landfills. Without undermining the role of air pollution in the global warming matrix, I’m convinced that landfills are equally demonic in nature, scope and content. So many people are engaged in pollution activities, consciously and unconsciously. Issues of pollution are experienced, day in and day out. Why nations tend to give prominence to air pollution without taking into account land pollution is still a mystery.

guest column: Peter Makwanya

Both air and land pollution are strange bad fellows and agents of destruction of high proportions. Landfills are sites designated for dumping rubbish, garbage and other sources of solid waste, while air pollution is a result of burning fossil fuels, bushes and garbage. Normally, when many people don’t see any smoke, to them there is no pollution. They need to see chunks of grey matter caressing the skies for them to actually ascertain the presence of pollution without taking into account activities of landfills comprising solid and liquid waste, garbage, market waste, obsolete electronic products and mine dust.

For quite some time, landfills were the most common means of disposing solid waste, especially in urban areas but currently, due to overpopulation of urban centres and the broken down of service delivery systems and poor governance by municipalities, mainly in the developing countries, landfills have become more of a sore-sight. When one looks at the large amounts of garbage and industrial waste (solid and liquid), deposited into human lifelines and sources of livelihoods like streams, rivers, dams and lakes, one would usually pose a question on whether the municipal correspondences or reporters are still available in developing countries.

Of course, one cannot deny the fact there is accelerating air-pollution as a result of burning bushes, like what is currently obtaining during this time of the year, complemented by fossil fuel mining, thermal power production and burning garbage. But the activities that take place on and under the ground due chemicals and industrial waste as well as decomposition of materials that release toxins, land pollution should not be ignored as well.

As many local authorities struggle with issues of bad governance, increased urbanisation, population growth, urban wetland farming and poor service deliveries, waste disposal systems are poorly managed, leading into the damage of the land, the environment and underground ecosystems balance. According to prevailing research, landfills emit about more than 10 toxic gases which include the dangerous methane, a greenhouse gas which contributes significantly to global warming. Also due to truancy and insolence in the mining industry, where gold-panners and other small-scale miners have been christened as artisanal miners in Zimbabwe, land degradation and dust pollution goes on unabated, especially in the advent of week arresting powers and environmental policies.

From the local perspective, before people can be articulate and be knowledgeable about climate change issues, it is significant that they become proficient on issues of pollution first. It is not helpful to bombard the local people and harass them with confusing climate change vocabulary before they cannot identify even the basic forms of pollution, whether land or air. The environment is the people’s immediate reality hence they need to know how best to manage basic issues of pollution within and around their contexts of situations. Also being conscious about the quality of water they drink and the cleanliness of the air they breathe are other critical considerations to take into account.

It is the environment which is with the confinements of the grassroots, as such, there are issues that they can easily identify with and relate so as to make sense of their worldviews. But the locals, who are indeed the custodians of the environment, are not given a chance to manoeuvre as they are always at the mercy scientific experts as omniscient narrators and politicians as architects of graft and confusion. When the locals see politicians hogging the limelight through grandstanding, they will simply withdraw into the background and as a result they will end up thinking that issues of managing and understanding pollution are not for them, as the common souls but for the elite.

Furthermore, the locals have been managing their environment, ever since, through appropriate implementation of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) without having to worry much about issues of atmospheric physics and GIS.

Carbon dioxide as greenhouse gas remains the widely known and the leading pollutant with high potential for causing global warming. Why pollution is very much prevalent in developing countries is because of the glaring development and technological gaps separating the developing countries from the developed countries. While in Europe it is the norm to cycle to work and travel in solar powered trains that are pollution free, in Africa it is a different thing altogether as they are so obsessed with driving, especially second hand cars that emit lots of carbon, with the potential of doubling pollution.

All in all, it is significant to re-orient each other on all forms of pollution so that people stay well informed and sustainably knowledgeable of these factors.

 Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his own capacity and can be contacted on: petrovmoyt@gmail.com

Mike Prettyman Chief Information Officer, Green Fire Engineered Reclamation, Member GreenFire DAO Whatsapp only Phone: 1-602-315-1571 Skype: mike.prettyman Website: http://greenfirefunding.com email: greenfirereclamation@gmail.com

Apr 032017
 

INDONESIA: The Methane Gas Canteen is an eatery like no other – it’s situated right in the middle of the Jatibarang Landfill in Semarang, Central Java, surrounded by mounds of putrefying waste, household rubbish, broken glass and plastic.

Every day, while men, women and children dig through mountains of trash collecting plastic and glass bottles to sell, husband and wife team Sarimin and Suyatmi are busy cooking.

Their customers? Cash-strapped scavengers who have the option to pay for their meals with plastic waste instead of money – part of the community’s novel solution to recycle the non-degradable plastic and reduce waste in the landfill.

Mr Sarimin, 56, weighs the amount of plastic each customer brings to the diner and calculates how much it is worth. This value is then deducted from the cost of the meal, or any surplus value refunded to the customer.

“I think we recycle 1 tonne of plastic waste a day, which is a lot. This way, the plastic waste doesn’t pile up, drift down the river and cause flooding.

“This doesn’t only benefit the scavengers, it benefits everyone,” said Mr Sarimin.

WATCH: How this works (2:08)

 

 

 

 

Source: Diner in the landfill lets patrons pay for lunch with plastic waste – Channel NewsAsia