Electronic waste is a big problem, and it’s only getting worse. The amount of e-waste generated between 2014 and 2016 increased by 8%, according to a new report by the United Nations University, the International Telecommunications Union, and the International Solid Waste Association. By 2021, the organizations expect e-waste to grow by another 17%.
You probably do some form of recycling if you live in the U.S. You probably separate paper from plastic and glass and metal. You rinse the bottles and cans, and you might put food scraps in a container destined for a composting facility. As you sort everything into the right bins, you probably assume that recycling is helping your community and protecting the environment. But is it? Are you in fact wasting your time?
Sweden burns half its rubbish to generate energy.
People in Sweden generally waste as much as people in other countries, around 461 kilograms per person each year. But only one percent of that waste is ending up in landfills, thanks to the country’s innovative “recycling” program. (Video)
A lone child in the valley of garbage
Manshiet Nasser is a neighborhood located in Cairo, Egypt. People refer to it as the City of Garbage because trash from all over Cairo end up there. It is not a landfill. Rather, people who live there survive on sorting through garbage and selling whatever is useful. They claim that 80% of the waste is recycled and resold. (Amazing pics)
Most recycled product is not what you might expect.
What Can We Learn From This Success?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only about 1/3 of all waste in the U.S. is recycled or reused. 2/3 are going to landfills or incinerators. Scientific American wondered what product was the most recycled: “It’s not aluminum cans–only half are recycled. Or even office paper, at more than 70 percent. It’s the lead acid batteries from your car. More than 99 percent of such batteries wind up recycled, keeping toxic lead out of landfills and waterways.” That’s a good thing, because there’s an estimated “2.6 million metric tons of lead can be found in the batteries of vehicles on the road today”!
Slop buckets should be installed in offices
Already households are being forced to install “slop buckets” in kitchens so that unwanted food can be collected separately. Office workers should have access to a slop bucket near their desks to dispose of apple cores, tea bags and under food waste, according to Government plans to improve recycling by business.
Yellowpagesgoesgreen.org is an organization working to educate consumers and promote the green movement to eliminate the unsolicited delivery of Yellow and White Pages books. The site is aimed at starting a national movement to solicit the White/Yellow Pages industry to proactively stop the delivery of books or to begin moving legislation to mandate the stoppage of this activity. This movement should be similar to the National No-Call Registry that have stopped and/or decreased the number of unwanted solicitations telephone calls to consumers.
It isn’t that hard to imagine music coming from shoes, but there is usually a person wearing the shoes and using the shoes to make the music. Still an innovative person, Ingrid Bachmann, created the Symphony For 54 Shoes out of 27 pairs of recycled shoes.
You’ve likely seen those hand-cranked, wrought iron presses that allow you to recycle your old newspapers into burnable bricks or fire logs. Now Shigeru Ota, a 75-year-old Japanese bicycle shop owner from Tateyama city in Japan’s Chiba prefecture, has worked up something similar that cuts the unwieldy compressed brinks of newsprint down to size.
Linfen, China is not only the most-polluted city in China, but also the world.
A total of 16 out of the top 20 most polluted cities are in China. #1 on the list is Linfen City in Shanxi Province, China. “The whole city smells and is covered in smoke.”