Showing posts with label Washington. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Washington. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Car lovers seek green energy, not gas guzzlersStory Highlights

(CNN) -- Daniel Gray loves automobiles so much that it almost feels wrong to drive another vehicle: "I'll admit it. I love my car, but I cheat on it with a different car every week," he said.

Car reviewer Daniel Gray loves to drive, but he decided to try getting around without a car for one afternoon.

The Belle Mead, New Jersey, resident runs the car-review Web site with a focus on fuel efficiency, but even he strays over to public transit every now and then. Nowadays, even the biggest car lovers are taking notice of energy conservation.

Readers may not realize a guy who revs engines for a living might need a ride back home after dropping off a test car in New York. In these cases, he typically takes a train most of the 55-mile trip and gets a car ride for the rest of the route.

Gray shared an iReport video explaining how he decided -- for one day only, he emphasizes -- to see whether he could go entirely without the assistance of an automobile on the return trip. His journey was successful, but he spent an extra hour fumbling around with local buses and taking an unintentional detour to a local mall. Watch how drivers ditched cars for a day »

"Taking car-free trips back from the city is an eye-opener," he said, noting that the area could benefit from better bus service to get to the Princeton Junction train station. Car reviewer goes car-free (temporarily)

Gray says he believes government policies have supported urban sprawl instead of efficiency and transit, and 2008's gas-price spiral provided a lesson in the importance of conserving fuel and using public transit.

"Energy independence and alternative fuels represent this country's future. They are our best shot for economic revival."
Don't Miss

iReporters go car-free for a day
Daniel Gray's Web site: Family shuttles children around with bikes Cargo bike carries items like a car

Since he first started buying cars, Gray has been concerned with fuel conservation.
He got his early muscle cars during the 1979 gas crisis, which meant he could only gas them up on alternating days of the week. With a few mechanical tweaks to his Tri-Power GTO, he could use less fuel. When gas prices became an issue in 2007 and 2008, he decided to use his experiences to launch a blog.

"I could feel the winds of change and only had to look back to my youth to know what to do."
With so many drivers on the road, he says small but consistent reductions in everyone's fuel expenditure would have a huge impact on overall energy consumption. Gray is skeptical that high-powered executives with fancy cars will ever want to abandon their wheels, but he says employers should look into telecommuting options for their employees.

He is one of the estimated 4 percent of people who work from home, according to 2008 U.S. Census Bureau numbers. The same study reported that more than 75 percent of U.S. workers drive to work alone and only about 11 percent carpool.

On his Web site, he evaluates cars' gas mileage. Special pages are devoted to the most efficient vehicles. All sorts of cars are examined, and he takes particular interest in hybrids, diesels and other vehicles claiming to be efficient while also looking at more traditional popular cars.
Gray says some people may not be able to avoid driving, but they could start using a lighter foot on the gas pedal to save some gas. Traveling at a steady speed and allowing reaction time helps conserve energy, he said.

He has found fuel efficiency gauges in some newer cars to be a godsend. The dashboard indicators tell drivers when they're driving in an efficient manner. Buying a car with a built-in sensor or installing an aftermarket gauge is one easy way for an ordinary person to save gas, he says.

At the dealership, Gray says car buyers should make miles per gallon a priority. He said he thinks Europeans have better access to cleaner cars than Americans do and encourages looking into fuel-efficient vehicles such as hybrids. Gray is a big proponent of clean diesel vehicles, which he says haven't gotten the attention they deserve. He also expressed hopes about alternative fuels made from algae and hydrogen.

"We're going to need them all," he said.

John Pucher, a professor of urban planning at Rutgers University, says the average American is using too much fuel, and many people have become almost "addicted" to their cars. He believes that driving less and finding alternative ways of getting around are in people's best self-interest and that selfish motivations are frequently overlooked in transit promotion.

Pucher, whose voicemail introduces him as "car-free John," hasn't owned a car since 1972. Also a New Jersey resident, he notes that transit options serve some areas extremely well and other areas not at all.

"The problem is all your transit is based on going to New York. If you want to go from suburb to suburb, you'll find that there are very little options."

He says he has noticed that people are often less likely to take public transit for leisure trips than for work commutes and adds many car trips are short enough to be walked.

He hopes that governments will take notice of individuals' desire to use other ways of getting around. A lot of money spent on cars, gas and maintenance could be used for other things, Pucher says, adding that using alternative forms of transportation forces people to get exercise.
Columnist and car reviewer Roman Mica of Boulder, Colorado, also said he thinks people will seek out alternative transportation and efficient vehicles if doing so is in their self-interest. He also hopes people will also try to set an example for others.

Mica makes video reviews of efficient vehicles and sometimes pits the cars against each other, because those are the cars he thinks his children will be driving years from now. He even goes after luxury cars. He posted a video on examining a Lexus hybrid that bills itself as "the fastest hybrid in the world." Does the Lexus hybrid live up to the hype?
He loves cars -- such as the Prius he drives -- and especially loves new technology. He adds that environmental friendliness is part of a car's image.

"People buy cars because they're emotionally attached to them. You buy with your heart not your brain. You buy because of what the car says about you and who you want to be." Prius vs. Prius showdown

Like Gray, Mica works at home. This saves fuel on commutes, but other kinds of driving can be required. Outside of work, Mica tries to take public transit when he is traveling to Denver for events, ballgames and visits.

He says finding ways to use less of finite oil resources will help people save money in the long run and the market will probably encourage or support their increased use.

He is a proponent of energy-efficient vehicles and researches their carbon footprints on Web sites such as to estimate how they compare with standard cars.

Based on his experiences, he opines that driving a standard sedan is like driving two Priuses. Upgrading to a Ford F-150 is similar to putting three of the hybrids on the road. By considering one's carbon footprint in a car purchase and driving habits, he says, one person can make a big difference.

He says people should try to make small changes in how they drive because they can feel secure in knowing that they have made a small difference, but more importantly, they can set off a chain reaction among people they influence.

"It begins with one person," he said. "The government can mandate all it wants, but in the end, it comes down to personal choices and personal responsibility. You're making a difference because you believe that it starts with you and it ends with you, especially today when people are very frustrated with how

Monday, December 15, 2008

Crash in trash creates mountains of unwanted recyclables

American towns are being forced to abandon recycling their household waste after the global economic downturn has crashed the once profitable market for "trash".

By Philip Sherwell in New York

Financial crisis is rubbish for trash

Mountains of used plastics, paper, metals and cardboard are piling up in the warehouses and yards of recycling companies across the US. Some contractors are negotiating to rent old military hangars and abandoned railway depots because they have run out of storage space for the glut of suddenly unwanted rubbish.

The collapse in the recycling market is a direct by-product of the financial crisis, as demand has slumped for material to be converted into everything from boxes for electronics to car parts and house fittings.

Householders have long been able to feel virtuous about their impact on the environment by sorting out their rubbish each week. But now the great trash market crash has even raised the environmentally alarming spectre that some waste intended for recycling may end up in landfills.

"The crash is all the more dramatic because as recently as mid-October the prices for recyclables stood at record highs," said Bruce Parker, president of the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA).

Newsprint is now fetching less than $60 (£40) a ton, down from $160; corrugated boxing has slumped from $50 a ton to $10; while tin fetches $5 a pound compared to about $25.

Other materials are performing even worse, Mr Parker said. His members are now having to pay for the removal of low-grade mixed paper that two months ago was bringing in $120 a ton. "And plastics, you cannot even give them away," he added with a sigh.

The previous surge in prices had largely been driven by soaring demand from China and India. The emerging economic powerhouses were swallowing up rubbish as soon Americans were discarding it - often to turn into goods and packing that were then sold back to the US.

But the demand from Asia has now collapsed as the economic crisis has spread around the globe. "We truly live in a global economy where what happens at one end of the earth directly affects business at the other end," said Mr Parker.

The impact is devastating commercially - and not just for recycling businesses. Already confronting crippling budget shortfalls, local and state authorities have now seen a lucrative source of income dry up as recycling centres are no longer paying for their rubbish.

Some towns have even suspended their recycling operations, although in much of the country those programmes are required by law.

Residents in West Virginia's Kanawha county, which includes the state capital Charleston, have been told to stockpile plastics and metals, the materials worst hit by the crash, as they will no longer be collected. Small towns with tight budgets are particularly badly affected – Frackville in Pennsylvania has recently suspended its recycling programme.

The collapse has even hit the nation's most prestigious academic institutions. Harvard University used to receive $10 a ton for mixed recyclables from a nearby centre, but last month was told that it would have to start paying $20 a ton to send students' discarded newspapers and empty bottles there.

"I have been in the recycling business for 30 years and never seen a time as bad as this," said Johnny Gold, senior vice-president of the Newark Group, one of America's biggest recycling companies.

"It's a combination of the economic collapse and Chinese over-capacity.

"Our industry is a textbook case of supply and demand. We sell our product to paper mills that make boxes to supply companies making goods and if those goods are not selling, then they don't need the boxes and they don't buy our product."

Mr Parker believes that the market may not bounce back until late 2010 - and by then the mountains of unwanted rubbish would have turned into major mountain ranges. The NSWMA argues that to handle the crisis, the US will have to step up investment in its own recycling mills to fill the gap left by Asia and that contractors may have to impose recycling surcharges.

"It may cost communities more in the meantime but from an environmental point of views, the savings in terms of reducing greenhouse emissions and other benefits are still much greater," he said.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bottle Bill Expansion Passed out of the Senate.

Thanks for Your Support: All Priority Waste Reduction and Recycling Bills pass out of their houses of origin!

Bottle Bill Expansion Passed out of the Senate.

CAW-sponsored SB 1625 (Corbett) cleared a big hurdle today, making it off the Senate floor with a 21 to 18 vote. This bill aims to expand California's successful container recycling program to include all plastic bottles which will significantly reduce plastic litter pollution. This measure will result in the recycling of more than 3 billion additional plastic bottles, annually reducing littered and landfilled plastic waste by 130,000 tons and providing local governments with an additional $100 million dollars. The expansion of California's Container Recycling Law was the #1 recommendation of the California Ocean Protection Council's recommendations on marine debris.

Shopping Bag Reduction Bill Advances to Senate.

CAW sponsored AB 2058 (Levine), which would institute the toughest-in-the-nation litter abatement law for carryout bags, passed out of the Assembly May 28 with a 44-33 vote. This bill would require bag diversion benchmarks be met or would require retailers charge a per-bag fee. AB 2058 would also give local governments the option to charge fees on plastic bags immediately. AB 2058 will next be heard in a Senate policy committee.

Toxic Packaging Phase-Out Bill Moves out of Assembly.

CAW-Sponsored AB 2505 (Brownley) passed out of the Assembly May 28 and now heads to the Senate. The bill will help prevent human and environmental exposure to toxins as well as encourage the recycling of consumer packaging by phasing out the use of toxic, non-recyclable PVC packaging. Previously, this bill passed out of Assembly Appropriations May 22 and passed out of the Asm. ESTM committee on April 15. AB 2505 is now headed to the State Senate.

Compostable Organics Management Bill heads to the Senate.

AB 2640 (Huffman) made it off the Assembly Floor May 28 and now moves to the Senate. AB 2640 would help expand the state's composting infrastructure by providing grants for facility operators to overcome regulatory barriers. The money for these grants would be generated through a fee on the use of green materials as landfill cover, a practice that has significant environmental impacts. Previously, the bill passed off the Assembly Floor May 28, passed out of Assembly Appropriations May 22, and passed out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on April 14th with a 5-3 vote.

Recycling News

May 20 - SF Plastic Bag Ban Expands to Pharmacies

May 21 -Beverage Container Recycling Rate Rises to 67%

May 28 - Report Contends That Recycling Is Not So Wasteful

Please Help Support Californians Against Waste - DONATE NOW!

Over the next three months, CAW's resources will be challenged as we work to advance several major waste prevention and recycling measures. Your online contribution today will help us to full staff up. We have several excellent summer internship candidates, but lack the resources to hire them. We would greatly appreciate your most generous contribution.

The Recycling Advocate is published at least twice monthly during the legislative session by the environmental group Californians Against Waste.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Laws

THE NEW YEAR HAS BROUGHT a new round of e-waste legislation, and Washington might be the next state to adopt a bill addressing the handling of used electronic products. While several bills have been introduced, Senate Bill 6428 and its companion legislation House Bill 2662 have garnered the most sponsors. The bills are similar to the e-waste law that recently took effect in Maine, in that they would hold manufacturers responsible for financing the collecting, transferring and recycling of e-waste.

Under the bills, beginning in January 2009, manufacturers would have the option to either enroll in a state e-recycling system set up and controlled by the yet-to-be-established Washington Materials Management and Financing Authority or participate in an independent plan created by a manufacturer or group of manufacturers, subject to approval by the state Department of Ecology (DOE). If the authority decides on a per unit recycling fee to fund the state system, charges would be limited to $10 per device, a cost that potentially could be passed on to the consumer in the form of higher product pricing.

The Senate Bill Report cites supporters' arguments that the California law requiring customers to pay $6 to $10 per electronic product to reimburse recyclers and collectors has “angered consumers, unfairly prompting a backlash against retailers.” Meanwhile, opponents have responded that manufacturers “are not equipped to design electronic waste collection and recycling systems. Some manufacturers will be competitively disadvantaged,” the report says.
Among others, officials from RadioShack, Hewlett Packard, the Washington Retail Association and Amazon have testified in favor of the bill. Representatives from Panasonic, Sony Electronics and Sharp Electronics have offered opposing testimony.

The bills were prompted by a DOE report released in December 2005 that argues for an e-waste recycling system financed by manufacturers. The DOE estimated that between 2003 and 2010, more than 4.5 million computer processing units, 3.5 million cathode ray tube monitors and 1.5 million flat panel monitors in the state will become obsolete.
As states continue to propose and adopt e-waste legislation, some stakeholders remain focused on national standards. In January, for instance, the Davisville, W.V.-based National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER) and the Arlington, Va.-based Consumer Electronics Association formed the National Electronics Recycling Infrastructure Clearinghouse (NERIC) with the stated purpose of helping develop a “national infrastructure for electronics recycling.”
“This initiative encompasses many of the important principles embraced by the NCER since its formation last year, which are active participation of the electronics industry, research and education on the benefits of multi-state harmonization of recycling systems, and cooperative action among public and private sector stakeholder groups,” said NCER executive director Jason Linnell in a press release.

NERIC's first projects will be to provide relevant information, such as projected collection rates and collection infrastructure models, to stakeholders and to research the viability of a private sector, third-party organization administering any national system, as opposed to a new government bureaucracy.

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles