Friday, March 21, 2008


When you need a portable, convenient power source, you can rely on batteries. Batteries of all shapes and sizes supply power to everyday electronics like toys and power tools, but batteries also work where we don't see them too. During a power outage, phone lines still operate because they are equipped with lead-acid batteries. Batteries help control power fluctuations, run commuter trains, and provide back-up power for critical needs like hospitals and military operations. The versatility of batteries is reflected in the different sizes and shapes, but all batteries have two common elements that combine to make power: an electrolyte and a heavy metal.

Just the Facts

Americans purchase nearly 3 billion dry-cell batteries every year to power radios, toys, cellular phones, watches, laptop computers, and portable power tools.

Inside a battery, heavy metals react with chemical electrolyte to produce the battery's power.
Wet-cell batteries, which contain a liquid electrolyte, commonly power automobiles, boats, or motorcycles.

Nearly 99 million wet-cell lead-acid car batteries are manufactured each year.
Mercury was phased out of certain types of batteries in conjunction with the "Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act," passed in 1996.

Recycling batteries keeps heavy metals out of landfills and the air. Recycling saves resources because recovered plastic and metals can be used to make new batteries.

Batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel, which can contaminate the environment when batteries are improperly disposed of. When incinerated, certain metals might be released into the air or can concentrate in the ash produced by the combustion process.

One way to reduce the number of batteries in the waste stream is to purchase rechargeable batteries. Nearly one in five dry-cell batteries purchased in the United States is rechargeable. Over its useful life, each rechargeable battery may substitute for hundreds of single-use batteries.

Battery Recycling

Lead-Acid Automobile Batteries
Nearly 90 percent of all lead-acid batteries are recycled. Almost any retailer that sells lead-acid batteries collects used batteries for recycling, as required by most state laws. Reclaimers crush batteries into nickel-sized pieces and separate the plastic components. They send the plastic to a reprocessor for manufacture into new plastic products and deliver purified lead to battery manufacturers and other industries. A typical lead-acid battery contains 60 to 80 percent recycled lead and plastic.

Non-Automotive Lead-Based Batteries

Gel cells and sealed lead-acid batteries are commonly used to power industrial equipment, emergency lighting, and alarm systems. The same recycling process applies as with automotive batteries. An automotive store or a local waste agency may accept the batteries for recycling.
Dry-Cell Batteries

Dry-cell batteries include alkaline and carbon zinc (9-volt, D, C, AA, AAA), mercuric-oxide (button, some cylindrical and rectangular), silver-oxide and zinc-air (button), and lithium (9-volt, C, AA, coin, button, rechargeable). On average, each person in the United States discards eight dry-cell batteries per year.

Alkaline and Zinc-Carbon BatteriesAlkaline batteries, the everyday household batteries used in flashlights, remote controls, and other appliances. Several reclamation companies now process these batteries.

Button-Cell BatteriesMost small, round "button-cell" type batteries found in items such as watches and hearing aids contain mercury, silver, cadmium, lithium, or other heavy metals as their main component. Button cells are increasingly targeted for recycling because of the value of recoverable materials, their small size, and their easy handling relative to other battery types.
Rechargeable BatteriesThe Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) , a nonprofit public service organization, targets four kinds of rechargeable batteries for recycling: nickel-cadmium (Ni-CD), nickel metal hydride, lithium ion, and small-sealed lead. Its "Charge Up to Recycle!" program offers various recycling plans for communities, retailers, businesses, and public agencies.

State and Federal Regulations

Many states have regulations in place requiring battery recycling. The U.S. Congress passed the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act in 1996 to make it easier for rechargeable battery and product manufacturers to collect and recycle Ni-CD batteries and certain small sealed lead-acid batteries. For these regulated batteries, the act requires the following:

Batteries must be easily removable from consumer products, to make it easier to recover them for recycling.

Battery labels must include the battery chemistry, the "three chasing arrows" symbol, and a phrase indicating that the user must recycle or dispose of the battery properly.
National uniformity in collection, storage, and transport of certain batteries.
Phase out the use of certain mercury-containing batteries.

More Battery Information

The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) is a nonprofit, public service organization funded by revchargeable productand battery manufacturers that educates manufacturers, retailers, and consumers about the benefits of rechargeable battery recycling.

EPA Links and Publications

Universal Waste Battery Web SiteThe universal waste regulations streamline collection requirements for certain hazardous wastes including batteries.

This report describes batteries and other commodities in terms of the national MSW stream. Find trends in materials generation and recovery based on data collected between 1960 and 2006.
AN ELECTRONICS RECYCLING company has decided that too many cooks don't always make a bad recipe. Phoenix-based Nxtcycle has announced results for its Shared Responsibility Program, which began in August 2002 and spread the burden of electronic waste (e-waste) recycling among manufacturers, retailers, municipalities, and waste processing and management facilities.

With Panasonic, Sharp and Sony underwriting the costs of recycling their own products collected, Nxtcycle has rounded-up approximately 39,000 electronic products from 16 special event collections in seven states and 19 permanent drop-off sites in three states from August to December 2002. Approximately 4,300 cathode ray tubes (CRTs) collected came from sponsoring manufacturers, Nxtcycle says.

Some municipalities have held single-day events, and others sponsored ongoing e-waste collection. The highest concentration of successful collection records was in Southern California, where approximately 25,000 products were collected.

To the north, the city of San Jose, Calif., presents residents opportunities to recycle electronic waste through two ongoing programs. One is the bulky goods program in which residents pay $21.25 to have three items picked up on a specially arranged curbside pickup. The other option is a neighborhood cleanup program that leads trucks through city neighborhoods every weekend allowing residents to bring out debris boxes containing anything they choose. Although this program does not specifically target e-waste, residents are permitted to put monitors and other items containing CRTs in the boxes. Once collected, the CRTs go to the Nxtcycle processing facility in Utah. Last year, San Jose recycled 175 tons of CRTs.

According to Cynthia Dunn of the city of San Jose Environmental Services Department, Integrated Waste Management Division, a clarification letter from the state Department of Toxic Substance Control that arrived in spring 2001 pushed the city to think critically about how to keep CRTs out of the waste stream. “We're working on longer-term solutions,” Dunn says. “But right now it's going to be difficult to keep [e-waste recycling] as a priority because the city of San Jose has not taken an official position on e-waste. But we have a team that's researching and making recommendations.”

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Florida e-voting machines become e-scrap

Following state lawmakers' vote last year to ban paperless voting, Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning has contracted with a local e-scrap processor to take all 29,000 of the Sunshine State's touch-screen voting machines.

Creative Recycling Solutions Inc. (Tampa, Florida) will pick up and resell the machines. After the company recoups its expenses, the state will receive 65 percent of any proceeds from sales of the machines or its parts.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Locking It Down
Cyberthieves are watching. Here's how to keep your data safe and sound
By Eve Tamincioglu

Every six to eight months, a zombie attacks the e-mail server at Guy Brown, a Brentwood (Tenn.) company that refurbishes and sells office products. It's not a Dawn of the Dead zombie, but a virus that invades computer systems to send bogus junk mail. The intruder has even caused one of the $150 million company's biggest customers to stop accepting its e-mails. "A small business is about the relationships you have," says Philip Markuson, senior vice-president for operations at the 70-employee company. But cyber compromises can make clients start wondering whether "you have trouble running your business properly and diminish the trust you've built up," he says. That's why Guy Brown is upgrading security for its technology infrastructure, including spending about $5,000 to create a virtual padlock to keep out Internet hackers.

Smart move, and one that is not as common as it should be. More small businesses now have Web sites and e-commerce capabilities—potentially exposing company and customer data to thieves—but lack the safeguards many big companies have in place. About 57% of small companies don't think they need a formal plan to secure their data, and 61% say they never sought information on properly protecting their files, according to a March, 2007, survey by the National Federation of Independent Business and Visa USA. "Criminals look for the weakest link in the chain," says Gurpreet Dhillon, a professor of information systems at Virginia Commonwealth University. "Where's the weakest link? Small businesses."

Hackers are increasingly sophisticated, too. In the past, viruses with names such as Mydoom and iloveyou were spread by people craving media attention. These days, says Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance, a trade association devoted to Internet information security, "the criminals are more like Tony Soprano than Ferris Bueller. Organized criminals are now doing it—not to show off, but to make money."

Protecting your network means taking a series of steps, including installing security hardware and software, putting an employee in charge of security, and educating all your workers.

Hackers' tactics, and the products to combat them, are always changing. Having an employee dedicated to security will help you stay on top of things, says Ron Teixeira, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, a public-private partnership that includes the Homeland Security Dept. and the Federal Trade Commission. Typically, the head of your IT department should fill that role. Companies that don't have IT staff should think about hiring a consulting firm. The best way to find one: referrals. Scott Testa, an adjunct professor at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia who specializes in small company technology, advises entrepreneurs to ask firms if they have experience with small companies and with their industry. They should also ask about whether their staff will be available at any time in case of a security breach.

"Independent, third-party firms that don't sell products are more objective," says Testa.
At a minimum, says Rob Fitzgerald, a computer forensics expert and president of Lorenzi Group, a consulting company in Danvers, Mass., "small businesses should have in place a firewall and have antispam/spyware and antivirus software installed on all computers." A firewall, which can include hardware or software or both, prevents unauthorized access to your network. All messages coming in or leaving your company pass through the firewall, which blocks those that do not meet your security criteria. Fitzgerald recommends that all small companies use firewall hardware. Sonicwall's (SNWL) TZ, Fortinet's Fortigate Unified Threat Management, and Cisco's (CSCO) Pix are all boxes you can plug into your modem. Buying the providers' annual service agreements, which run about $100 a year, gets you updates and access to tech support staff.
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Hells Bells

Massive swell headed to Rip Curl Pro at Bells

By: Sean Collins

March 17, 2008
A developing storm located about 1,000 miles below Western Australia today promises to deliver solid double overhead surf later this week for the Rip Curl Pro Bells stop on the ASP World Tour.This huge storm will develop wind speeds in the 45-60 knot range over the next few days that will generate combined sea heights over 45 feet in the proximity of the storm.

Deepwater swell heights in the exposed outer waters near King Island south of Bells will be in the 20 foot+ range later this week, and closer to shore the deep water swell will be in the 12 foot+ range along the less exposed coastline near Bells.

The main body of this swell will begin to arrive in the Bells, Torquay area late Thursday night (March 20th Aussie time), with the peak of the swell the next day on Good Friday, March 21st. On Friday we're expecting solid double overhead surf at Bells with some larger sets possible in the triple overhead range, before the swell slowly drops throughout the weekend.

At this point weather conditions are likely to be a little unstable on Friday with a clearing southerly flow and scattered showers but improving into the weekend.I spoke with Kelly Slater at length over the weekend about whether to chase a great swell in the Caribbean or to head on down to Bells. He opted to go for Bells for a lot of reasons - especially considering the swell forecast looked really solid and likely to be another historic event down under.Historically, Simon Anderson proved that his thruster design could work in huge surf as he took down the field at the Bells event in 1981.

And will this swell be comparable to the 50 year storm swell at Bells that Bodie chased in the infamous movie "Point Break"? Probably not, but it will be very, very large, and considering the incredible field of world competitors excitingly awaiting this swell at the Rip Curl Pro at Bells, history could be in the making again on Friday. To see if we're right check it out at the Rip Curl Pro webcast at ripcurl.comon Thursday afternoon (California time) or Friday morning (Aussie time).

Monday, March 17, 2008

News from across the pond

Several e-scrap-related stories have recently emerged on the other side of the Atlantic. Over 12.5 million PCs in the UK were thrown out in the last five years, according to research done by Fujitsu Siemens Computers (Maarssen, The Netherlands) — for a total of up to 25 percent of all end-of-life discarded computers. According to the research, only one in 10 surveyed said that their computer was recycled via a manufacturer's program, and only four in 10 gave their old computer away to a friend or a charity.

The UK Environment Agency (London) released WEEE Directive collection numbers last week for the half year from the July 2007 to December 2007, and had to severely downgrade figures previously given from July 2007 to September 2007 period. The previously reported rate of 13.8 pounds per person, per year, turned out to be too high, due to a major glitch that resulted in the over-reporting over 45,000 tons of large domestic appliances.

The new level of household WEEE collections is 11.5 pounds per person, per year, still high enough to meet the European WEEE Directive target of almost nine pounds per person, per year. A recent survey by Computing Which? magazine (Hertford, England) found that one in seven local UK councils do not know what happens to computers sent in for recycling. The survey raised concerns that the town recycling center may become a target for identity thieves if councils did not practice proper personal data destruction practices.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


China Clamps Down on News from Tibet Protests

by James Miles,

, March 16, 2008 ·

China's crackdown against Tibetan protesters has reportedly spread neighboring provinces. Details of the protests, and Beijing's response, have been hard hard to come by due to efforts by China to stem the flow of news from the affected region.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has called on the international community to investigate whether cultural genocide has taken place. He accused China of relying on force to achieve peace.

Ari Shapiro speaks with James Miles of The Economist magazine and Louisa Lim of NPR.
Tibet Protests Spread to Other Provinces
from The Associated Press

Tibetans look at the Chinese riot police standing in formation at a Chinese army compound in Xiahe, Gansu Province, China, Sunday, March 16, 2008. On Saturday, police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of Buddhist monks and other Tibetans after they marched from the historic Labrang monastery and smashed windows in the county police headquarters in Xiahe, witnesses said. Associated Press © 2008

Tibetan Buddhist monks walk with a backdrop of the historic Labrang Monastery in Xiahe, Gansu Province, China, Sunday, March 16, 2008. On Saturday, police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of Buddhist monks and other Tibetans after they marched from the historic Labrang monastery and smashed windows in the county police headquarters in Xiahe, witnesses said. Associated Press © 2008

In this photo released by the Free Tibet Campaign, monks from the Labrang Monastery protest on a street in Xiahe, in China's Gansu province Friday March 14, 2008. Associated Press © 2008

In this photo released by the Free Tibet Campaign, monks from the Labrang Monastery protest on a street in Xiahe, in China's Gansu province Friday March 14, 2008. Associated Press © 2008

In this image made from video and provided by APTN, authorities walk down an avenue, Friday, March 14, 2008, in Gansu province, Xiahe, China. Police fired tear gas to disperse Buddhist monks and others staging a second day of protests Saturday in western China in sympathy with anti-Chinese demonstrations in Lhasa, local residents said. Associated Press © 2008

Violence in Tibet spilled over into neighboring provinces Sunday where Tibetan protesters defied a Chinese government crackdown. The Dalai Lama warned Tibet faced "cultural genocide" and appealed to the world for help.

Protests against Chinese rule of Tibet were reported in neighboring Sichuan and Qinghai provinces and also in western Gansu province. All are home to sizable Tibetan populations.
The demonstrations come after protests in the Tibetan capital Lhasa escalated into violence Friday, with Buddhist monks and others torching police cars and shops in the fiercest challenge to Beijing's rule over the region in nearly two decades.

"Whether intentionally or unintentionally, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place," said the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. He was referring to China's policy of encouraging the ethnic Han majority to migrate to Tibet, restrictions on Buddhist temples and re-education programs for monks.

He told reporters in Dharmsala, the north Indian town where Tibet's self-declared government-in-exile is based, that an international body should investigate the government's crackdown on the Lhasa protests.

Tibet was effectively independent for decades before Chinese communist troops entered in 1950. The latest unrest began March 10 on the anniversary of a 1959 uprising against Chinese rule of Tibet.

The protests are an embarrassment for China, coming just weeks before the Beijing Summer Olympics ceremonies kick off with the torch relay, which is set to pass through Tibet.
Thubten Samphel, a spokesman for the Dalai Lama's government in exile, said multiple sources inside Tibet had counted at least 80 corpses since the violence broke out Friday. He did not know how many of the bodies were protesters. On Friday, the exiled government said at least 30 protesters had been killed by Chinese authorities and the number could be as high as 100.
The official Chinese Xinhua News Agency has said at least 10 civilians were burned to death Friday. The figures could not be independently verified because China restricts foreign media access to Tibet.

In Sichuan province, Tibetan monks and police clashed Sunday in Aba county after the monks staged a protest, said a resident there who refused to give his name. He said one policeman had been killed and three or four police vans had been set on fire.

The India-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy said at least seven people have been shot dead in the county. There was no way of immediately confirming the claim.
In Qinghai province, 100 monks defied a directive confining them to Rongwo Monastery in Tongren city by climbing a hill behind the monastery, where they set off fireworks and burned incense to protest the crackdown in Tibet
Businesses were shuttered, and about 30 riot police with shields took up posts near the monastery. Police forced journalists to delete photographs of police.

In western Gansu province, more than 100 students protested at a university in Lanzhou, according to Matt Whitticase of London-based activist group Free Tibet.

A curfew was imposed in Xiahe city in Gansu province on Sunday, a day after police fired tear gas on a 1,000 protesters, including Buddhist monks and ordinary citizens, who had marched from the historic Labrang monastery.

Large communities of ethnic Tibetans live far outside modern Tibet in areas that were the Himalayan region's eastern and northeastern provinces of Amdo and Kham until the communist takeover in 1951. Those areas were later split off by Beijing to become the Chinese province of Qinghai and part of Sichuan province.

Lhasa appeared to remain under a curfew on Sunday, though some people and cars were seen on the streets during daylight. The government has not announced the curfew but residents said authorities have warned them not to go outside for several days now.

Hong Kong Cable TV said about 200 military vehicles each carrying dozens of armed soldiers, drove into the center of Lhasa on Sunday. The footage showed mostly empty streets, but for armored and military vehicles patrolling and soldiers searching buildings.
Loudspeakers on the streets repeatedly broadcast slogans urging residents to "discern between enemies and friends, maintain order."

Xinhua said most shops in the Old Town area of Lhasa, which saw the brunt of the violence, were still closed Sunday. It said some shops in other parts of the town had reopened.

China's communist government is hoping Beijing's hosting of the Aug. 8-24 Olympics will boost its popularity at home as well as its image abroad. But the event has already attracted international scrutiny of China's human rights record and its pollution problems.
International criticism of the crackdown in Tibet so far has been mild, with no threats of an Olympic boycott or other sanctions. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Sunday on China "to exercise restraint in dealing with the protests."

Rice said she was "concerned by reports of a sharply increased police and military presence in and around Lhasa." Her statement urged China to release those jailed for protesting.
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said Saturday he opposed an Olympic boycott over Tibet.

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles