Saturday, April 12, 2008

New York City

Mar 13 - New York City Council Replaces E-waste Bill with Two New Bills

The New York City Council yesterday recalled the e-waste legislation they passed last month and has replaced it with two new bills. The change comes after Mayor Bloomberg threatened to veto the first bill. The two bills split up the first bill with one requiring electronics manufacturers to collect and recycling their used and unwanted products and the other focusing on mandatory collection goals to be met. The latter was what the Mayor was mostly opposed to that led to the splitting of the original bill. So instead of having the entire bill be vetoed, the City Council split up the bill and still hopes to be the first city in the country with an e-waste recycling bill.

Read a New York Times article.

What You Can Do

Learn more about California's e-waste legislation.
Find a place to recycling your unwanted electronics.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pacific Ocean Plastic

Pacific Ocean Plastic Mistaken for Plankton Threatens Wildlife

By Adam Satariano

April 10 -- Marine researchers Charles Moore and Marcus Eriksen surveyed the dark water of the Pacific Ocean aboard a catamaran about 700 miles (1,126 kilometers) north of Hawaii in January and found trash everywhere.

They were in the eye of the North Pacific subtropical gyre, where opposing ocean currents form a vortex bigger than Australia, trapping tons of floating debris in its circular flow.

Trash that wound up there used to decompose. Now, with 403 billion pounds of plastic produced annually, according to the Houston-based consulting group Chemical Markets Associates Inc., areas of the gyre have turned into a soup of indigestible shards that can break down to the size of plankton and be mistaken for food, endangering millions of fish and birds.

``No matter where we go, we find plastic,'' said Moore, 60. ``The ocean is now this plastic soup, and we just don't know what that's doing.''

Marine debris worldwide kills more than 1 million sea birds and 100,000 mammals each year, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. The chemical-laden materials have been found in the stomachs of dead fish and birds.

``We know that these plastics can carry high levels of toxins that they collect as they float,'' said Eriksen, 40, an oceanographer with Moore at the nonprofit Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach, California. ``The next step is to see if it bio-accumulates up the food chain onto your dinner plate.''

No clean-up efforts are under way, according to the NOAA and researchers. Moore and Eriksen said such an endeavor wouldn't be feasible because of the distance from land. The oceanographic agency has focused on removing derelict fishing gear threatening marine mammals and corals. The plastic industry is funding litter-reduction efforts.

Garbage Patch

The gyre isn't a solid floating trash heap visible from the air, Moore said. Instead, billions of tiny plastic scraps bob on the water's surface along with occasional larger pieces like fishing gear, wood, bottles, toothbrushes and cigarette lighters. Ocean sampling shows that there are as many as 1 million plastic pieces, each 1 to 2 millimeters across, in each square kilometer (0.4 square mile) in the area, Moore says.

The vortex covers about 10 million square miles north of the equator, rotating clockwise from about 300 miles off California's coast to near Japan. It's the result of prevailing winds that move west to east on the northern side and in the opposite direction to the south.

Though a comprehensive study on the garbage patch's size hasn't been conducted, Moore estimates debris accumulates in about half the gyre, mostly in separate swirls in the east and west. The highest concentrations are near Hawaii, he said.

Moore discovered the garbage patch in 1997. He was testing his boat's engine by traveling through an area of the Pacific known for its calm winds. For days, he saw plastic shards glistening in the flat ocean 1,000 miles from the nearest port.

`No End Game'

In January, Moore, Eriksen and other researchers boarded a 25-ton, aluminum-hull catamaran for a monthlong trip to the gyre. The concentration of debris increased to 0.01 grams of plastic in each square meter of water from 0.002 grams in 1999, Eriksen said.

``Every product now is expected to be wrapped in plastic, and there is no take-back infrastructure for that packaging,'' Moore said. ``This lubricant of globalization has no end game. There's no after-life for it and since the ocean is downhill from everywhere, that's where it ends up.''

The United Nations in 2006 estimated that each square mile of ocean carries 46,000 pieces of debris. Water samples of the garbage patches show six times as much plastic as plankton, Moore said. He will receive an award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for his research on marine debris on April 14 in San Francisco.

Plastic Production

U.S. plastic production surged four-fold to 113 billion pounds in 2006 from 29 billion in 1973, according to the Washington-based American Chemistry Council, an industry trade group. There is no correlation between plastic production and marine debris, said Sharon Kneiss, vice president of the organization.

``Plastics don't belong in the ocean; they don't belong in the roadway; they belong in the recycling bin,'' Kneiss said. ``Yes, there are plastics and other debris in the gyre. It is a problem that we're concerned about.''

About 80 percent of ocean trash starts on land and is carried along by wind, rivers and storm drains, according to the UN. Water bottles discarded in Tokyo or beach toys thrown out in San Diego wind up in the whirlpools after breaking down into smaller pieces along the way.

Threat to Hawaii

About 600 tons of industrial fishing gear washed up on Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in the past decade, threatening the Hawaiian monk seal, the most endangered U.S. marine mammal, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Climate change and marine debris are the most serious threats to the islands' ocean habitats, said Rusty Brainard, head of coral reef ecosystem research at the NOAA.

``All the plastic is unbelievable,'' said Brainard, 49. ``These are places that are uninhabited, thousands of miles from where anybody lives, and yet they are just covered in human trash.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Satariano in San Francisco at

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Printed wiring board scrap holds its record course

The average price of printed wiring board scrap metals hit yet another record high in March, at $5.03 per pound. The March price was up 43.8-percent over the year-earlier level and 5.2-percent over February's level, which also had been a record high. The price for the first quarter of 2008 was $4.74 per pound, up 38.6-percent over the first quarter 2007.
This data represents the full metallic values of boards over time and are not the recycling values, as those values do not include the costs involved in actually extracting metal from boards, including freight, sampling charges, assay assessments, smelting, refining, process loss, return on investment, and penalties for various elements, including beryllium, bismuth and nickel.
These values are for the estimated intrinsic metal content of recovered PC boards. Some consumers label such material as mid-value. Lower-value scrap includes monitor and television boards. Higher-value scrap includes network, video and IT cards and mainframe boards.
The March 2008 numbers were the highest of the last six-plus years, with a printed-wiring board value at $5.03 per pound; the lowest was $1.62 per pound (November, 2001).

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tibetans Flock to San Francisco to Protest Olympics
by Richard Gonzales

Morning Edition, April 9, 2008 · San Francisco is bracing for big protests from Tibetan activists as the city hosts the Olympic torch relay Wednesday. Security is being tightened for the flame's only U.S. appearance following turmoil during stops this week in London and Paris directed at Olympic host China.

Related NPR Stories
April 8, 2008
Olympic Relay Highlights China's Public Image CrisisApril 9, 2008
Olympic Games May Have Run Their CourseApril 7, 2008
Paris Olympic Torch Relay Cut Short by ProtestsMarch 26, 2008
Secrets of the Olympic Torch TrailblazersMarch 25, 2008
How Do You Transport a Burning Olympic Torch?March 24, 2008
Olympic Torch Lit amid Protest in Greek CeremonyApril 7, 2008
In Paris, Olympic Torch Inflames ProtestersApril 3, 2008
San Francisco Braces for Olympic Torch ProtestsMarch 28, 2008
Activists Target San Francisco's Olympic Torch Visit

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

This is something I (and a lot of other people) have been wondering about for a while in regards to plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs, like the Chevy Volt) and pure electric vehicles (EVs, like the Lightning GT and Subaru R1e). PHEVs are not a new thing, and they have been discussed on Gas2.0 before, but there is some interesting news that recently came out of Carnegie Mellon University suggesting that if we don’t make our power generation system less carbon intensive, PHEVs could have little benefit over regular hybrids (HEVs).

More after the jump!

Unfortunately, if you want to see the original article, you’ll have to buy it, but for the rest of us, Green Car Congress has written a good article about the findings and the implications of this study.

There is no doubt that PHEVs result in good fuel economy figures — GM is currently touting its PHEV-to be, the Volt, as getting 150MPG over all. However, they aren’t necessarily super efficient. Instead, they achieve these high numbers by supplementing the power produced by their gasoline engines with power taken from the grid. This has caused controversy lately, as hybrid-opponents often claim that battery production and the use of energy from the grid actually makes these cars bigger GHG polluters. However, if you look at this chart posted by GCC, you can see that both HEVs and PHEVs have a clear advantage over conventional cars, even when battery production is factored in:

This chart assumes the national mix of power from the grid, and as I said, shows pretty clearly the advantage of HEVs over conventional vehicles (CVs), but also shows that with the current mix of power sources on the grid, PHEVs aren’t that much better than your standard HEVs. I don’t say this to suggest that we should be shutting down PHEV research or production, but rather I think we should embrace the ability to consolidate our efforts in “greening” only one particular industry rather than trying to attack every one separately.

What I mean by this is that if our vehicles all drew power from the grid, making the grid more efficient would both improve standard energy usage as well as make motor vehicles less polluting. As it stands now there is a huge rift, where some are trying to improve the grid by adding things like wind power and others are trying to improve vehicle fuel economy or introduce hydrogen cars.

In fact, as noted by GCC, if the grid were low-carbon, PHEVs would reduce lifecycle GHG emissions of 51-63%, something anyone would admit is a huge improvement for motor vehicles.

You can check out this chart (if you can read it, click for a bigger version) to see how the different vehicles compare under different scenarios:

How do you all feel about PHEVs? Are they the new thing of the future or just another set-back on the way to pure EVs? Or is a hydrogen economy in store for us in the future?

Related Posts:
How Solar Panels Could Power 90% of US Transportation
Algae Could Be Major Hydrogen Fuel Source
Toyota to Pioneer Hybrid Racing Technology?
Google To Spend $10 Million on Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Project
Subaru Unleashes R1e Electric Car on New York
Plug-In Hybrids Could Require 160 New Power Plants By 2030 (Or None At All)
100 MPG+ Plug-In Hybrids Already Available (Check ‘em Out)
Plug-In Hybrids Use Over 17 Times More Water Than Regular Cars, Researchers Say

Hydrogen Fuel Stops

Hydrogen fueling stations stall in Calif.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan for a statewide network of hydrogen fueling stations for fuel cell cars has stalled.

The BMW Hydrogen 7 - A Car that Runs on Hydrogen and Emits Only Water. Learn More.

Hydrogen Generator - Bargain Price On Hydrogen Generator Hydrogen Generator Shipped Free

"Water Fuel Cell Car Kit" - Use Water Instead Of Gas - Quick Easy, Fast Setup - Special $49.97

Schwarzenegger promised four years ago that hundreds of stations would be built across California but not a single hydrogen fueling station has been built under the program, the San Jose Mercury News reported Tuesday.

The newspaper said there are only 175 vehicles in California running on hydrogen and nearly all of those are in government fleets.

Mary Nichols of the state Air Resources Board said the hydrogen fueling station program is still on track.

"Hydrogen vehicles are definitely going to be part of our future," she told the newspaper. "They are just not as big a part today as was hoped in 2004."

Fuel cells produce electricity by taking in oxygen and hydrogen and using electrons to create an electrical current that powers a vehicle's motor, the newspaper said.

Monday, April 7, 2008

E-cycling begins with you.
Click on your state below to find reuse, recycling, and donation programs across the country for your electronic products. If you aren't sure what to look for in a recycler, take a look at a series of questions we suggest to ask. Want to recycle your batteries or mercury containing lamps? Take a look at our Links section for additional resources.

Pick your state: -- Pick New State -- Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington Washington DC West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming

This website is brought to you by The Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA), a national trade organization that includes the full spectrum of U.S. manufacturers. The Alliance is a partnership of electronic and high-tech associations and companies whose mission is promoting the market development and competitiveness of the U.S. high-tech industry through domestic and international policy efforts.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Batteries simplicity coming to the US

Responses to the Defra-led consultation on the UK's introduction of the Batteries Directive have indicated strong support for a single compliance scheme from both the local authority sector and the Waste & Resources Action Programme, writes Nick Mann.

Kerbside collections are one of the issues commented on by consultees
In its response, WRAP states that the Directive's requirement for the UK to collect 25% of batteries by 2012 makes it unnecessary to introduce a multiple producer compliance system.

It states: "WRAP believes that the relatively small weight of batteries which will need to be collected to meet the 2012 collection rate target (estimated to be between 5000 and 7500 tonnes per annum) does not warrant the establishment of multiple compliance schemes, and the considerably increased administration burden which could be required for large numbers of schemes."

At the same time, it stresses the importance of the schedule for meeting the Directive's targets, explaining that: "The time period allowed for achievement of the 25% and 45% targets is short. Multiple compliance schemes may view competitive advantage as preferable to the achievement of targets in the short to medium term."


The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, LARAC, also backs the idea of a single scheme, arguing that "simplicity is the key".

"Multiple schemes may offer the element of competition but this system could lead to different collection schemes, leading to higher communication costs to explain the multiple costs on offer," it explains.

Similarly, the Local Government Association, LGA, advocates a single compliance scheme, claiming that it would benefit both producers and local authorities.

The LGA consultation response reveals that "local authorities favour a single compliance scheme because they believe it will help producers keep costs down".

"This is because the single compliance system would allow for a negotiated or brokered approach between producers and the many councils in England whereby councils can help producers discharge their duty at low cost," it adds.

The issue of the methods that should be used to collect batteries to meet the requirements of the Directive has attracted particular debate in recent months (see story), and the consultation responses reveal continued differences of opinion.

Despite concerns over kerbside collections, LARAC's response reveals support for the method as part of a mixed approach to the issue.

"An element of kerbside collections will be needed at (arguably) greater cost, in order for targets to be met," it argues. "A compliance scheme needs to be able to select and control the mix of options that are needed for targets to be achieved."

Advising against relying purely on collections from civic amenity sites, it instead suggests using locations such as schools and libraries as potential collection points.

Mixed collection methods also win support from WRAP, with the organisation citing its involvement in trials of kerbside collection of batteries (see story) as evidence of their effectiveness.

"Kerbside has proved particularly effective as it is both relatively easy to introduce and appears to be the preferred method for many householders according to our research," it states.

"We also believe that the mix will be different in different areas as some collection routes will not be readily available in some areas, or will not be cost-effective (for example a postal scheme in an urban area)."

However, WRAP warns of the cost to producers that kerbside schemes might entail, adding that "we must stress that kerbside collection is not free of cost".

"Some local authorities appear to have absorbed costs (for example management and staff costs) during the trial schemes as part of their local commitment to the trial; however it must not be assumed that this would be acceptable once producer responsibility is established."

The issue of cost has led the LGA to express its doubts over kerbside collections (see story), and its response to the consultation reiterates that view.

As well as revealing concerns over the possible contamination of other materials from batteries collected in commingled kerbside collections, it calls for the establishment of a "network" of consumer drop-off points to keep costs down.

"Systems which collect large quantities of batteries from strategic drop-off points in a range of collections including retail outlets, schools, offices etc. - with infrequent collections or otherwise collections only when there is a large enough quantity to pick up...will be cheaper than kerbside collection systems which involve large numbers of pick-ups for small numbers of batteries," it argues.


Both LARAC and WRAP offer clear support for the idea of interim targets to allow the UK to meet its battery collection goals, with LARAC emphasising the benefits that it believes a single scheme would play.

However, it avoids recommending specific interim goals, or definite action to be taken if the compliance scheme fails to meet its targets.

On the other hand, WRAP outlines a series of targets to increase the UK's current portable battery collection rate of 3%, calling for a rate of 8% by 2009, 14% by 2010 and 20% by 2011.

It also calls for a system of fines to be introduced, stating that: "If interim targets are not met then a series of fines should be imposed on the compliance scheme.

"It should be a requirement of membership that these fines are passed on to those producers who are members of the scheme during the year that the interim target is not met," it adds.

The UK is set to introduce producer responsibility for battery collections under the Directive at the end of September.

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles