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Posts Tagged ‘recycling’

EWASTE

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

By Clint Dehnert

I have never considered myself and environmentalist or “tree huger” on any scale. But with today’s society it is impossible to not at least be aware of some of the environmental  issues. One issue in particular has stuck in my mind since I saw a show about ewaste a few years ago. We live in a day and age that things that are here today, can be gone tomorrow. Things are changing faster than we have ever seen in the history of the world. In my research for this subject, I found a quote by a reporter at the New York Times that sums it all up; There is no heaven for cellphones.”

The information that I am bringing up is all over Youtube and Greenpeace’s website. We have recently started the holiday shopping season and witnessed “Black Friday” “Small Business Saturday” and “Cyber Monday.” Most of the hot products are electronics like big screen TV’s, Smartphone’s, and the tablet.

Every holiday season around Thanksgiving time you see the new technology hit the shelves and airwaves. With this all in the back of your mind, I ask, what happens to the old TV? What happens to the old computer or laptop?

According to Urbanmining.org 41.1 million computers, 20 million TV’s, and 100 million cellphones are being replaced every year. Only 13% of these millions of electronics are recycled and disposed of properly. To put it bluntly, we are polluting our entire world with toxic chemicals with our insatiable appetite for the latest electronic technology.

Even the recycling centers are a business. To keep profits up, some are breaking the law. After the good, reusable components are reclaimed; they are sending it to the same places that it would have gone if you would not have recycled it at all.    

The examples are in Asia and Africa where policy and regulation is nonexistent or not enforced in some cases. What happens there is what is polluting the environment as well as killing fellow human beings. It is what is putting toxic chemicals in our food chain.

Things like lead, mercury, cadmium, and other toxic chemicals are making it into landfills here in the U.S. Some of the components that are recycled are being burned to claim the precious metals and making it into the air and water supply in other countries. All water eventually ends up in the ocean doesn’t it? The ocean supplies food for all over the world right?  Having to have the latest technology is putting toxic chemicals in your food, water, and the air you breathe.

With the almighty dollar driving our every move, I noticed something in my research that was not stated on any of the sites. On YouTube, I found videos about extracting the minimal amount of gold that is in a circuit board. These videos have been viewed by over 160,000 viewers. Some of the videos that show what this is doing to the environment have been viewed by only a couple thousand. This extraction process utilizes things like Nitric and Hydrochloric Acid.

In this process, you can see the vapors (nitrogen dioxide)  spewing from the container and making it into the open air, this cannot be good for the environment, and in the end, us. I find it ironic that the very products that are causing this “ewaste issue” are a necessity so we can further pollute the vital resources of our everyday life. We need a new computer so we can watch a YouTube video with better picture quality on how to claim gold out of our old computers! See a pattern?


Plumbing Trends

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Written by: Kim Musel

What does being “Green” mean?  In the plumbing industry this does not just mean more efficient in that it uses less electricity, but that it uses water more efficiently with less waste and with less pollution “downstream”.

WaterSense

In 2006, the EPA launched the “WaterSense” program.  It is a program ran through the EPA that creates and maintains voluntary water efficiency standards.  While the program is currently voluntary it is a major driver for standards and practices within the industry to reduce water use, save resources and money, and is going to become law in several states including Texas and California by 2014.  If a product has a WaterSense label (Insert Watersense Logo here) that means that it meets certain minimum environmental standards, for example, being 20% more efficient than average products, performing as well or better than the old standard, and that they provide real savings as proven by a third-party certifying organization, such as Underwriters Laboratory.  The WaterSense label can be found on sinks and faucets, showerheads, toilets, urinals and even a whole new home.  So while everyone wants the luxurious multi-head shower towers, or the huge waterfall shower heads, they can still have that luxury without all of the waste.

Emissions Requirements for Plumbing Equipment?

Seriously?  Who thinks that they need to worry about emissions for a water heater?  But think about it.  Any appliance or “machine” that burns a fuel has exhaust emissions.  In Texas and Southern California, areas that have particularly high pollution rates, especially in large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston and Dallas, it makes sense to look all sources of pollution, not just cars.  For a natural gas fired water heater to be installed in Texas or Southern California a third-party must certify that the appliance meets specific low NOx (nitrous oxides) requirements.  The current requirement is that any emissions being vented directly from the water heater into the atmosphere contain less than 40ng/J of nitrous oxides.

When Gray is Green

So, how about recycling our water…really, I’m not kidding.  it’s not just possible but becoming a real trend, especially in more arid areas where using anything just one time is seen as irresponsible and wasteful.  This “Graywater” is water from showers, laundries, dishwaters, or collected rainwater etc. and is being collected and reused for other non-potable purposes such as flushing toilets and irrigating landscapes.  There are even new technologies that allow the gray water to be filtered to the point where it is cleaner than when it came into the home in the first place.

What else is going on?

Did you know that the temperature just six feet under your feet remains at a constant temperature all year around?  Geothermal heat pumps can not only heat our water but our homes as well.  A geothermal loop system can be installed either straight down or outlying within a trench. During the summer, excess heat from the house can be returned back to the ground where it is cooled and returned back into the home to cool the house, and vice-a-versa, during the winter, the warmth from the ground can be harvested to heat your home and your domestic potable water supply.  I have a co-worker who did this last year and experienced significant savings over the old propane furnace and water heater that she previously had.  She also now has central air conditioning that she never had before.

Making sense, of WaterSense

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment
by: Kim Musel
What does being “Green” mean? In the plumbing industry this does not just mean more efficient in that it uses less electricity, but that it uses water more efficiently with less waste and with less pollution “downstream”.
In 2006, the EPA launched the “WaterSense” program. It is a program ran through the EPA that creates and maintains voluntary water efficiency standards. While the program is currently voluntary it is a major driver for standards and practices within the industry to reduce water use, save resources and money, and is going to become law in several states including Texas and California by 2014.
If a product has a WaterSense label that means that it meets certain minimum environmental standards, for example, being 20% more efficient than average products, performing as well or better than the old standard, and that they provide real savings as proven by a third-party certifying organization, such as Underwriters LaboratoryGeorge Morlan WaterSense toilets
The WaterSense label can be found on sinks and faucets, shower heads, toilets, urinals and even a whole new home. So while everyone wants the luxurious multi-head shower towers, or the huge waterfall shower heads, they can still have that luxury without all of the waste.
Emissions Requirements for Plumbing Equipment?
Seriously?
Who thinks that they need to worry about emissions for a water heater? But think about it. Any appliance or “machine” that burns a fuel has exhaust emissions. In Texas and Southern California, areas that have particularly high pollution rates, especially in large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston and Dallas, it makes sense to look all sources of pollution, not just cars. For a natural gas fired water heater to be installed in Texas or Southern California a third-party must certify that the appliance meets specific low NOx (nitrous oxides) requirements. The current requirement is that any emissions being vented directly from the water heater into the atmosphere contain less than 40ng/J of nitrous oxides.
When Gray is Green So, how about recycling our water. really, I’m not kidding. it’s not just possible but becoming a real trend, especially in more arid areas where using anything just one time is seen as irresponsible and wasteful. This “Graywater” is water from showers, laundries, dishwaters, or collected rainwater etc. and is being collected and reused for other non-potable purposes such as flushing toilets and irrigating landscapes. There are even new technologies that allow the gray water to be filtered to the point where it is cleaner than when it came into the home in the first place.
What else is going on?

Did you know that the temperature just six feet under your feet remains at a constant temperature all year around? Geothermal heat pumps can not only heat our water but our homes as well. A geothermal loop system can be installed either straight down or outlying within a trench.

Geothermal power technologies

Image via Wikipedia

 During the summer, excess heat from the house can be returned back to the ground where it is cooled and returned back into the home to cool the house, and vice-a-versa, during the winter, the warmth from the ground can be harvested to heat your home and your domestic potable water supply. I have a co-worker who did this last year and experienced significant savings over the old propane furnace and water heater that she previously had. She also now has central air conditioning that she never had before.