Category Archives: Waste Management for Households

Plastic Waste Piles Up as China’s Ban Goes Into Effect

What will the U.S. do now with the plastic China won’t take?

 

PHOTOS COURTESY OF RECOLOGY

 BY KATHERINE WEI | FEB 3 2018

If you were at Dolores Park in San Francisco last weekend enjoying a bottle of water, chances are the bottle ended up at Pier 96 not long after you tossed it into a recycling bin. That’s where much of the city’s discarded recycling waste piles up—in giant bales of neatly bound cardboard and plastic scrap, sitting in an empty parking lot just off the pier. The cardboard bales will be shipped off to China in a shipping container for recycling. The plastic water bottles and other scrap will continue to sit there, however, waiting for another country willing to take them.

That’s because China has decided to crack down on the quality of plastic scrap imported from overseas—the yang la-ji, a crass, blanket term government officials have been calling imported scrap. It translates literally to “foreign trash.”

In July 2017, China filed a notice with the World Trade Organization announcing its decision to stop importing 24 types of foreign waste and to dramatically tighten its standards for impurities in scrap bales. In the official notice, China’s Ministry of Environment Protection said, “We found that large amounts of dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes are mixed in the solid waste that can be used as raw materials. This has polluted China’s environment seriously.”

Before the announcement, China allowed 5 percent of impurities in imported bales of plastic. The new, 0.5-percent threshold has proven impossible for U.S. facilities in the short-term, leaving recycling operators scrambling for alternatives.

“We worked hard to make sure our bales contain less than 5 percent of impurities, and sometimes lower than 4,” said Robert Reed, who is part of the team that runs Recology San Francisco near Pier 96.

The ban went into effect in 2018, with a transitional period of five months for its scrap trade partners. WTO members that rely heavily on China’s role in the international waste trade protested in meetings following the announcement; the United States, the E.U., Japan, Australia, and Canada all asked for a longer transitional period of up to five years.

China is already carrying out the ban anyway, which has caused a flurry of panic through the international waste trade. “China practically gave us no time to adjust, no time to transition,” said Adina Adler, a senior official at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. It takes at least two months for a scrap shipment to go from the United States to China; the last bales that the U.S. was able to get out of the country without facing rejection at China’s ports were shipped from September to October, making the ban effective three months after the announcement.

The lack of instructions from China also didn’t help. There is scrap piling up in storage facilities on the West Coast, waiting to be redirected to domestic or foreign facilities, or waiting indefinitely for the regulations to relax. This in turn is taking a toll on the facilities’ budgets; some have informed local residents that they are no longer taking in plastic items and that plastic has been going to landfill instead, according to Adler.

In the official notice China filed with the WTO, the banned types of scrap include “plastics waste from living sources, vanadium slag, unsorted waste paper, and waste textile materials.” But no further explanation was given, and there were no clear examples for exporting facilities on what they are allowed to ship and what they aren’t. The government has also announced a plan to completely ban plastic waste imports in 2019.

China became the world’s main solid waste importer in the 1980s, when it needed cheap raw materials to feed its growing economy. But in recent years, the government has pointed to environmental damage caused by the trade and unwonted smuggling of illegal scraps. China hasn’t made clear exactly what it means by environmental damage. However, one of the heaviest polluted regions in China, Guiyu, a small town in the Guangdong Province, is said to take in the most electronic waste in the world. Once primarily reliant on rice-planting before 1995, the coastal village had transformed into a huge e-waste processing hub by 2013 for economic reasons. Rice no longer grew because the water and air became severely polluted from burning plastic.

In 2013, officials launched the Green Fence campaign, which prohibited unsorted shipments of recyclables from overseas. In March 2017, China also launched the National Sword initiative, a project that led to detailed investigations at nine major ports known for the daily incoming cargo of foreign scrap.

“In periods of development in the past, parts of imported solid waste have served (China) to some extent, but as China advances economically and socially, we see problems exposed in importing solid waste for raw materials,” said Guo Jiang, the head of the environment protection ministry’s Department of International Cooperation. “Especially the yang la-ji. Everyone has something negative to say about it.”

The United States in particular has been hit hard by the ban, thanks to a lack of domestic plastic processing facilities nationwide. There hasn’t been a new recycling plant built in the U.S. since 2003. Meanwhile, Americans throw away an average of 35 billion plastic bottles every year. Up to 40 percent of U.S. scrap exports used to go to China. What happens next?

For now, your bottle and its plastic companions are going to Vietnam or Malaysia. Scrap exports from September 2017 through January 2018, compared to the same period of time in 2016, shows a 95 percent increase of scrap paper going to Vietnam, and a 138 percent increase in plastic scrap going to Malaysia. For that same period, there was a 17.8 percent drop in plastic scrap export from the United States to China.

“We are working very hard with the city of San Francisco and our customers to meet China’s new standards, but after November 2017, our plastic bales have been redirected to Southeast Asia,” said Reed, who hopes that the Chinese government will relax its new regulations.

Inside China, the scrap industry is also seeing fissures after the government crackdown. China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection investigated 1,800 recycling facilities last year to see if they followed environmental laws regarding imported scrap, but over half were found to be violating said laws. “These companies either went out of business or lost their import licenses temporarily,” said Adler. This also contributed to the chaos in the global scrap trade, because these licenses not only gave the facilities permission to import foreign scrap, they also determined how much each facility is allowed to import. Once taken away, the losses are huge.

Even more companies were denied licenses this year, said Steve Wong, the owner of the plastic recycling company Fukutomi in Hong Kong. “The number of the first batch of import permits granted in 2018 was released at the end of December. The number is down by nearly 95 percent in comparison to last year,” said Wong.

There is still no official plan on how to deal with the excess scrap piling up in places like San Francisco’s Pier 96, but recyclers are trying to identify domestic options rather than going overseas. “There are resources in the U.S. and Canada that people are starting to scout out now,” said Adler.

Wong agrees. “The amount Southeast Asian countries are taking is small compared to what the U.S. is used to exporting. I’m planning to open a facility in the U.S. to help combat the problem.”

 

Source: Plastic Waste Piles Up as China’s Ban Goes Into Effect

Advertisements

Live Sustainably Everyday- Make Everyday an Environment Day

World Environment Day is just around the corner. While different organisations, educational institutions and community groups are undertaking various activities to mark this day, why don’t we take this as an opportunity to reflect upon our own lifestyles and see the impact of our actions to the environment as well as our well-being.

Waste is one of the biggest problems the world is facing at the moment and there has never been a better time to think and rethink about our consumption pattern and disposal
behaviour. According to the World Bank’s report What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management ,globally we are producing1.3 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste every year and are expected to increase to approximately 2.2 billion tonnes per year by 2025. Similarly according to a recent report by UNEP and the World Resources Institute (WRI), about one-third of all food produced worldwide, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems.

Australians are the second biggest producer of waste and needless to say hundreds of tonnes of waste are dumped into landfill sites every year. In addition, most people these days think that landfill is the ultimate destination for most of the waste we produce, where as it should only be taken as a last resort.

The modern lifestyle and technological advancement is leading to not only increase in volume of waste we produce but also producing different composition of waste which is making the waste issue more big and challenging than ever. Disposal of different types of waste ranging from green waste, hazardous waste, e- waste and other household waste in the landfill is not only taking up bigger chunk of our valuable land which could have alternatively been used for other productive causes, but it is also causing severe and irreversible impacts in the environment, socio-economy and health. Wastes dumped in the landfill accounts for air pollution, water pollution and land quality at the same time methane gas produced during the decomposition of organic waste is one of the potent green house gas which is 23 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

If we really want to make our impact in reducing the waste or managing it, we need to reduce the production of waste at source. One of the successful and practical mantra that we have been hearing and to some extent practicing is 3 R Principle- Reduce Reuse and Re cycle.

Reduce mean avoiding the production of waste at source. Avoid the things that we can do without. Reuse is about using items over and over for a longer period.
Recycling is re-processing the item into a new raw material so that
it can be used in a new product–for example grinding up plastic bottles to make fibre. While recycling is helping us in a great way by keeping our waste from going to landfill; a huge quantity of waste could be reduced and reused before it goes to recycling.

What are the benefits of reducing and reusing waste?

1. Keeps materials out of landfill.
2. Helps to preserve the “embodied energy” that was originally used to manufacture
an item.
3. Reduces the pressure on raw material, energy and water.
4. Creates less air and water pollution than making a new item or recycling one.
5. Reduces overall production of waste.
6. Reuse often creates an affordability of goods that are often of better quality .

So what can we do to reduce waste going to landfill?

Here are 10 different ways that will help to reduce and reuse waste:
1. Change consumption pattern: Ask your self do you need or want that product. Only buy what you need
2. Buy quality products what would last long
3. Burrow thing from neighbours, friends and family
4. Rent it rather than buying if you are using for a short term
5. Covert your food waste into rich fertiliser though composting or wormfarming
6. Donate your unwanted items to charity organisation or give away to your friend and family
7. Buy and sell second-hand at flea markets and garage sales.
8. Maintain your goods, it will last longer
9. Repair the items such as electronics or furniture
10.Upcycle the items you don’t want and expand the life of your preloved goods

These simple actions can easily be incorporated in our everyday life at a no or vey low cost. All we need is a little bit of passion and commitment to change ourselves and create change. Every single action multiplied by thousands will certainly make a difference. So why don’t we start from ourselves and from today. And make every day an environment day.

A very happy environment day 2016 to all of you!

Happy International Composting Awareness Week 2016!

Half of the waste we put in our rubbish bin consists of food or garden waste. These organic waste get dumped into landfill where they decompose in the absence of oxygen producing potent greenhouse gas such as methane. The leachate produced by these organic waste also results in depletion of ground water quality.   By composting our food scraps we are not only diverting the huge amount of waste going to the landfill but also reducing carbon pollution.

Composting is a natural process by which the organic waste get decomposed into nutrition rich compost by the action of bacteria. In order to work effectively, composting requires the right blend of air, moisture and carbon & nitrogen balanced materials. Little bit of extra TLC (Tender. Love and Care) will work wonders.

Alternatively we can also get our food waste converted into the top quality compost by through worm farming. Worms munch on organic waste and produce casting which are high quality compost . Worm farming is the best way to manage organic waste within the small space and with no smell.

Here is a simple and easy step by step guide on worm farming and composting:

Slide1

Slide2

Slide3

Slide4

Slide5

Slide6

Slide7

 

Slide8

Slide9

Slide10

Slide11

Slide12

Slide13

Slide14

Happy composting and do share your experiences 🙂

 

 

11 great ideas to have eco-friendly Christmas

Festivals always come with lots of enthusiasm and excitements and Christmas is no exception.  In an attempt to make it fun and joyous we indulge ourselves in lots of activities including exchanging gifts, cooking lots of food, visiting friends and families etc. to name few. These activities if not planned properly can result in possession lot lots of unnecessary stuff as well as money being wasted.  There are many ways to celebrate this festive season in a limited budget while also reducing the environmental impact of our actions. Here are 11 simple ways to celebrate Christmas in an eco-friendly manner while still maintaining its elegance and style.

1. Buy the right product

1want vs need

Every time we have some celebration, we want to buy new things for our home, ourselves or our families, whether we need them or not. Plan and make a list of items you want to buy so that the important things don’t get missed out. Identify if you just want those things or you really need them. Focus on the items that you need most. In this way you would be able to better manage your budget too. Stick to the list and do not let yourself get carried away with the items on sale or cheaply priced. Avoid  buying anything that you don’t need in order to prevent them from getting wasted and ultimately being dumped to the landfill site.

2. Buy less

2 buy less   2. buy less

Once the list of items you really need is ready, try to stick to it. Do not overbuy. Again don’t get tempted to buy the things that are on sale or cheaply priced. The best idea is to quickly scan through your pantry, wardrobe, garage or store room so that you don’t end up buying too much or buy something that you already have. If you already have similar items that could replace the ones you want to buy, consider using them. For instance make your own Christmas tree, use alternatives for wrapping paper, bake your own cake, make your own greeting card etc.

3. Create less waste

3. create less waste 2    3. create less waste

Try to create less waste where possible. Avoid buying thing with too much packaging, don’t buy or cook too much, don’t buy the things that you won’t use. If you get something as a gift that you don’t use, donate it to local charity shop or consider giving it to someone who might use it. Avoid buying disposable or one time use  items, its worth investing in things that that could be used multiple times. If you have a real Christmas tree this season, ensure that it is not put to waste. You can replant it in your garden or take it to nearby recycling centre, instead of putting it out for landfill. If you choose to use an artificial tree, you can reuse it again next year, sell it, or give it to your local charity.

4. Don’t throw away, Donate

3. Donate a    3. Donate b

Christmas is all about giving. If you are planning to clean your house this Christmas, instead of throwing them away, donate them to local charity shops. Pull out your old clothes, crockery, toys, books etc  that you don’t use any more, as  this is the perfect time to donate so that those who need get the pleasure to use them.  This will not only help people in need them but also help declutter  your home and save valuable resources from going to the landfill.

5. Reuse and recycle

4. reuse and recycle

Try to buy things that could be used multiple times. Avoid buying single use disposable plastic plates, glass and spoons. Choose to buy reusable ones or buy eco- friendly products that could be decomposed or recycled.

Recycle the items that could be recycled. Pet bottles, cardboard, paper, glass containers, cans etc could be recycled. Collect them separately and put them in the recycling bin so that these valuable resources could be used to make new products

6. Compost

5. compost

Food  waste constitute the huge part of our waste. During festivals we tend to cook or buy more food which will result in more food waste.  Use your food waste to feed the worms in your worm farm or put them in your compost bin.

7 .Shop locally

6. shop locally   6.. shop locally b

Shop locally to promote local business and support your community. Buying locally made products also create local employment which will help enhance economical status of the community. Local shops sell a wide range of products at affordable prices at the same time they have less ecological footprint.

8. Give the gift of experience

7. gift of experience

Where possible choose to give your loved ones an experience rather than material item. Materials either gets consumed or stay in the house or end up as the waste where as experience last for lifetime. Pass to museum, aquarium zoo, rock climbing, spa, beauty care, movie ticket etc counts more than the material gifts.

9. Save energy and  water

8. save energy and water

It would be wise to be mindful while using water and energy as you would be using it more frequently during the holiday season. Using solar or led powered Christmas light, taking short showers, using dishwasher and washing machines in full loads, minimising use of hot water etc would help save energy and water as well as money.

10. Celebrate with nature

9. celebrate with nature

Celebrate the Christmas close to the nature. organise bush walking, barbeque in the park (national park) or play outdoors. This will help family and friends bond with each other while children will enjoy  to be with nature.

11. Be creative, don’t just spend

10. be creative b10. be creative

People always love and admire creative ideas. Come up with creative decoration or gift ideas. This will not only save you heaps but your creativity might  inspire people to do the similar things. For instance, create your own Christmas tree, design your own Christmas table decoration, make your own gift wrapping paper, decorate the home with the items readily available in your garden or store room.

 

 

 

 

 

An inspiring story…”She Hasn’t Made Any Trash In 2 Years. This Is What Her Life Is Like”

What an inspiration she is!! Such a wonderful life she is living and so much to learn from. It is high time that we all start doing what we could on our part to reduce the impact of our actions on the planet earth. I am doing my bit to live a sustainable life and this article serve as a fuel to motivate me to go further. Here is to living best lives we can.

SHE HASN’T MADE ANY TRASH IN 2 YEARS. THIS IS WHAT HER LIFE IS LIKE

November 23, 2014 by Joe Martino.

Lauren

What if you could live without producing any trash? Would you do it? At first you might think this is impossible or very hard, and it may very well be depending on your life situation. But one inspiring girl is not only doing this, but sharing how we can all try doing the same thing as well.

Eliminating Trash
Not long ago we covered a story about a restaurant who hadn’t produced garbage in over 2 years. It was amazing to not only see how possible it was but that they were able to do it and still run their business with success.

But how could we do that on an individual level and could it be done easily without giving up much of what we love and modern amenities? I came across Lauren Singer’s story and was very inspired by what she had to share. She has gone 2 years without producing any garbage and her story isn’t what you’d expect.

The inspiration came from taking Environmental Studies at NYU. She was passionate about protesting against big oil and wanted to do what she could to help impact our environment in a positive way. While at first you might think she’s probably a “hippie” or “treehugger” who doesn’t live a normal life, when you pay attention to her story you not only find that this isn’t the case, but also that given her experience, we could all be doing this too. All it would take is a little discipline and habit changing.

Her passion for the environment was challenged greatly one day when she realized upon opening her fridge that almost every item was wrapped or stored in some sort of disposable package. Here she was, the “green” girl, being, as she called herself, a hypocrite because she was choosing to live her life in a way that wasn’t green or sustainable. So she decided to eliminate plastic from her life.

Below she shares how she went from being an average consumer to eliminating trash from her life. Use this as inspiration and see if you can begin doing the same. She outlines many details of what she did. See if you can implement this in your own life, I myself am going to start putting a plan together to make less of an impact as well.

Her Journey To Zero Waste
“How did I go from zero plastic to zero waste?

First, I stopped buying packaged products and began bringing my own bags and jars to fill with bulk products at the supermarket. I stopped buying new clothing, and shopped only secondhand. I continued making all of my own personal care and cleaning products. I downsized significantly by selling, donating, or giving away superfluous things in my life, such as all but one of my six identical spatulas, 10 pairs of jeans that I hadn’t worn since high school, and a trillion decorative items that had no significance to me at all.

Most importantly, I started planning potentially wasteful situations; I began saying “NO” to things like straws in my cocktails at a bars, to plastic or paper bags at stores, and to receipts.

Of course, this transition didn’t happen overnight.

This process took more than a year and required a lot of effort. The most difficult part was taking a hard look at myself, the environmental studies major, the shining beacon of sustainability, and realizing that I didn’t live in a way that aligned with my values.

I realized that while I sincerely cared about a lot of things, I wasn’t embodying my philosophies. Once I accepted that, I allowed myself to change and since then my life has been better every day. Here are just a few of the ways life has improved since I went trash free:

1. I save money.

I now make a grocery list when I go shopping, which means being prepared and not grabbing expensive items impulsively. Additionally, buying food in bulk means not paying a premium for packaging. When it comes to my wardrobe, I don’t purchase new clothing; I shop secondhand and get my clothes at a heavily discounted price.

2. I eat better.

Since I purchase unpackaged foods, my unhealthy choices are really limited. Instead, I eat a lot of organic fruits and vegetables, bulk whole grains and legumes, as well as a lot of seasonal, local food, since farmers markets offer amazing unpackaged produce.

3. I’m happier.

Before I adopted my zero-waste lifestyle, I would find myself scrambling to the supermarket before it closed, because I didn’t shop properly, ordering in takeout because I didn’t have food, always going to the pharmacy to get this scrub and that cream, and cleaning constantly because I had so much stuff.

Now, my typical week involves one trip to the store to buy all of the ingredients I need. This trip isn’t just for food, but also for cleaning and beauty products, since all of the things I use now can be made with simple, everyday ingredients. Not only is it easier and stress free, it’s healthier (no toxic chemicals!).

I never anticipated that actively choosing not to produce waste would turn into my having a higher quality of life. I thought it would just mean not taking out the trash. But what was at first a lifestyle decision became a blog, Trash is for Tossers, which became a catalyst for chatting with interesting, like-minded people, and making friends.

Now it’s blossomed into my quitting my great post-grad job as Sustainability Manager for the NYC Department of Environmental Protection to start my own zero-waste company, The Simply Co., where I hand-make and sell the products that I learned to produce over the past two years.

I didn’t start living this lifestyle to make a statement — I began living this way because living a zero-waste life is, to me, the absolutely best way I know how to live a life that aligns with everything I believe in.”

Pass this inspiration on to others who you think could benefit from her tips and story.

H/T: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-16168/i-havent-made-any-trash-in-2-years-heres-what-my-life-is-like.html

http://www.trashisfortossers.com/

Source:  She Hasn’t Made Any Trash In 2 Years. This Is What Her Life Is Like