Showing posts with label enviromental health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label enviromental health. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

7 Environmental Problems That Are Worse Than We Thought

With as much attention as the environment has been getting lately, you’d think that we’d be further along in our fight to preserve the world’s species, resources and the beautiful diversity of nature. Unfortunately, things aren’t nearly that rosy. In fact, many of the environmental problems that have received the most public attention are even worse than we thought – from destruction in the rain forest to melting glaciers in the Arctic. We’ve got a lot of work to do.

7. Mammal Extinction

One in four mammals is threatened with extinction. That’s 25%, a huge number that will totally change the ecology of every corner of the earth. We could see thousands of species die out in our lifetime, and the rate of habitat loss and hunting in crucial areas like Southeast Asia, Central Africa and Central and South America is growing so rapidly, these animals barely have a chance.

If you think the extinction of an animal like the beautiful Iberian Lynx is no big deal, and wouldn’t have that much of an effect on the planet, think again. Not only would we be losing – mostly due to our own disregard for our surroundings – so much of the awe-inspiring diversity of nature, mass extinctions like this would cause a serious imbalance in the world’s food chain. When a predator disappears, the prey will multiply. When prey dies out, the predator will see its ranks decrease as well. Many people fail to realize just how interconnected all species on this planet really are.

6. The Ocean Dead Zones

In oceans around the world, there are eerie areas that are devoid of nearly all life. These ‘dead zones’ are characterized by a lack of oxygen, and they’re caused by excess nitrogen from farm fertilizers, emissions from vehicles and factories, and sewage. The number of dead zones has been growing fast - since the 1960’s, the number of dead zones has doubled every 10 years. They range in size from under a square mile to 45,000 square miles, and the most infamous one of all is in the Gulf of Mexico, a product of toxic sludge that flows down the Mississippi from farms in the Midwest. These ‘hypoxic’ zones now cover an area roughly the size of Oregon.

Spanish researches recently found that many species die off at oxygen levels well above the current definition of ‘uninhabitable’, suggesting that the extent of dead zones in coastal areas that support fishing is much worse than previously thought. Robert Diaz, a Virginia Institute of Marine Science biologist, said “Everything is pointing towards a more desperate situation in all aquatic systems, freshwater and marine. That’s pretty clear. People should be worried, all over the world.”

As if that weren’t bad enough, global warming will likely aggravate the problem. A rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will change rainfall patterns, which could create an increase in runoff from rivers into the seas in many areas.

5. Collapsing Fish Stock

Millions of people across the world depend upon fish as a major staple in their diet. As such, commercial fishermen have been pulling such a huge quantity of fish from the oceans that we’re heading toward a global collapse of all species currently fished – possibly as soon as the year 2048. Like large-scale mammal extinction, the collapse of fish species would have a major impact on the world’s ecosystems.

It’s not too late – yet – if overfishing and other threats to fish populations are reduced as soon as possible. Marine systems are still biologically diverse, but catastrophic loss of fish species is close at hand. 29 percent of species have been fished so heavily or have been so affected by pollution that they’re down to 10 percent of their previous population levels. If we continue the way we are fishing today, there will be a 100 percent collapse by mid-century, so we’ve got to turn this around fast.

4. Destruction of the Rain Forest

Saving the rain forest’ has been at the forefront of the environmental movement for decades, yet here we are facing huge losses in the Amazon all the same. You might have thought that, with all the attention the rain forest has gotten, it wouldn’t need so much saving anymore – but unfortunately, global warming and deforestation mean that half of the Amazon rain forest will likely be destroyed or severely damaged by 2030.

The World Wildlife Fund concluded this summer that agriculture, drought, fire, logging and livestock ranching will cause major damage to 55 percent of the Amazon rain forest in the next 22 years. Another 4 percent will see damage due to reduced rainfall, courtesy of global warming. These factors will destroy up to 80 percent of the rain forest’s wildlife. Losing 60 percent of the rain forest would accelerate global warming and affect rainfall in places as far away as India. Massive destruction to the rain forest would have a domino effect on the rest of the world.

The WWF says that the ‘point of no return’, from which recovery will be impossible, is only 15 to 25 years away.

3. Polar Sea Ice Loss

Polar sea ice is melting at an unprecedented rate, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. It’s perhaps the most dramatic, startling visual evidence of global warming, and it’s got scientists rushing to figure out just how big of an effect the melting is going to have on the rest of the world.

British researchers said last week that the thickness of sea ice in the Arctic decreased dramatically last winter for the first time since records began in the early 1990s. The research showed a significant loss in thickness on the northern ice cap after the record loss of ice during the summer of 2007.

Scientific American warns that “human fingerprints have been detected” on both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Antarctica had previously appeared to be the only continent on the planet where humanity’s impact on climate change hadn’t been observed. The collapse of the Larsen B and Wilkins ice shelves in the Antarctic Peninsula shows just how fast the region is warming.

2. CO2 Levels in the Atmosphere

The aforementioned polar sea ice loss is yet another sinister sign of carbon dioxide levels building up in the atmosphere – the main force behind global warming. Greenhouse gas emissions caused by our modern way of life – vehicles, power plants, factories, giant livestock farms – will bring devastating climate change within decades if they stay at today’s levels.

Average temperatures could increase by as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century if emissions continue to rise, a figure that would easily make the world virtually uninhabitable for humans. A global temperature rise of just 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit would cause a catastrophic domino effect, bringing weather extremes that would result in food and water shortages and destructive floods.

The most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change represents “the final nail in the coffin” of climate change denial, representing the most authoritative picture to date that global warming is caused by human activity. According to the panel, we must make a swift and significant switch to clean, efficient and renewable energy technologies in order to prevent the worst-case scenario.

1. Population Explosion

Whether we like to admit it or not, our very own rapidly multiplying presence on this planet is the biggest environmental problem there is, and it’s getting bigger by the minute. We voraciously consume resources, pollute the air and water, tear down natural habitats, introduce species into areas where they don’t belong and destroy ecosystems to the point of causing millions of species to become endangered and, all too often, go extinct.

It took nearly all of human history – from the first days of man on earth until the early 1800’s – to reach a global population of 1 billion. In just 200 years, we’ve managed to reach 6.5 billion. That means the population has grown more since 1950 than in the previous four million years. We’re adding roughly 74 million people to the planet every year, a scary figure that will probably continue to increase. All of those mouths will need to be fed. All of those bodies will need clean water and a place to sleep. All of the new communities created to house those people will continue to encroach upon the natural world.

All seven environmental problems detailed above are very serious, and we’ve got to start treating them that way. We may not have easy solutions, but the fact is, we simply can’t continue living our lives as if everything is peachy. These problems aren’t going to magically solve themselves. We should have begun acting generations ago, but we can’t go back in time, and that means we have to step up our efforts. If we want to keep this planet a healthy place for humans to live – for our grandchildren to enjoy – it’s time to buckle down and do everything in our power to reverse the damage we’ve done.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Organic farming 'could feed Africa'

Traditional practices increase yield by 128 per cent in east Africa, says UN

By Daniel Howden in Nairobi

New evidence suggests that organic practices - derided by some as a Western lifestyle fad - are delivering sharp increases in yields, improvements in the soil and a boost in the income of Africa's small farmers

Organic farming offers Africa the best chance of breaking the cycle of poverty and malnutrition it has been locked in for decades, according to a major study from the United Nations to be presented today.

New evidence suggests that organic practices – derided by some as a Western lifestyle fad – are delivering sharp increases in yields, improvements in the soil and a boost in the income of Africa's small farmers who remain among the poorest people on earth. The head of the UN's Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, said the report "indicates that the potential contribution of organic farming to feeding the world maybe far higher than many had supposed".

The "green revolution" in agriculture in the 1960s – when the production of food caught and surpassed the needs of the global population for the first time – largely bypassed Africa. Whereas each person today has 25 per cent more food on average than they did in 1960, in Africa they have 10 per cent less.

A combination of increasing population, decreasing rainfall and soil fertility and a surge in food prices has left Africa uniquely vulnerable to famine. Climate change is expected to make a bad situation worse by increasing the frequency of droughts and floods.

It has been conventional wisdom among African governments that modern, mechanised agriculture was needed to close the gap but efforts in this direction have had little impact on food poverty and done nothing to create a sustainable approach. Now, the global food crisis has led to renewed calls for a massive modernisation of agriculture on the hungriest continent on the planet, with calls to push ahead with genetically modified crops and large industrial farms to avoid potentially disastrous starvation.

Last month the UK's former chief scientist Sir David King said anti-scientific attitudes among Western NGOs and the UN were responsible for holding back a much-needed green revolution in Africa. "The problem is that the Western world's move toward organic farming – a lifestyle choice for a community with surplus food – and against agricultural technology in general and GM in particular, has been adopted across the whole of Africa, with the exception of South Africa, with devastating consequences," he said.

The research conducted by the UN Environment Programme suggests that organic, small-scale farming can deliver the increased yields which were thought to be the preserve of industrial farming, without the environmental and social damage which that form of agriculture brings with it.

An analysis of 114 projects in 24 African countries found that yields had more than doubled where organic, or near-organic practices had been used. That increase in yield jumped to 128 per cent in east Africa.

"Organic farming can often lead to polarised views," said Mr Steiner, a former economist. "With some viewing it as a saviour and others as a niche product or something of a luxury... this report suggests it could make a serious contribution to tackling poverty and food insecurity."

The study found that organic practices outperformed traditional methods and chemical-intensive conventional farming. It also found strong environmental benefits such as improved soil fertility, better retention of water and resistance to drought. And the research highlighted the role that learning organic practices could have in improving local education. Backers of GM foods insist that a technological fix is needed to feed the world. But this form of agriculture requires cash to buy the patented seeds and herbicides – both at record high prices currently – needed to grow GM crops.

Regional farming experts have long called for "good farming", rather than exclusively GM or organic. Better seeds, crop rotation, irrigation and access to markets all help farmers. Organic certification in countries such as the UK and Australia still presents an insurmountable barrier to most African exporters, the report points out. It calls for greater access to markets so farmers can get the best prices for their products.

Kenyan farmer: 'I wanted to see how UK did it'

Henry Murage had to travel a long way to solve problems trying to farm a smallholding on the western slopes of Mount Kenya. He spent five months in the UK, studying with the experts at Garden Organic a charity in the Midlands. "I wanted to see how it was being done in the UK and was convinced we could do some of the same things here," he says.

On his return 10 years ago, he set up the Mt Kenya Organic Farm, aimed at aiding other small farmers fighting the semi-arid conditions. He believes organic soil management can help retain moisture and protect against crop failure. The true test came during the devastating drought of2000-02, when Mr Murage's vegetable gardens fared better than his neighbours'. At least 300 farmers have visited his gardens and taken up at least one of the practices he espouses. "Organic can feed the people in rural areas," he says. "It's sustainable and what we produce now we can go on producing."

Saving money on fertilisers and pesticides helps farmers afford better seeds, and composting and crop rotation are improving the soil. Traditional maize, beans and livestock farming in the area have been supplemented with new crops from borage seeds to cayenne peppers and honey, with buyers from the US to Europe. Now he is growing camomile for herbal tea, with buyers from the UK and Germany both interested.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

'Zero-energy' pilot homes planned at Fort Campbell


FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — Environmental designers and green architects are meeting this week at Fort Campbell to plan what they say will be the first "zero-energy" homes on a U.S. military installation.

The two duplexes would incorporate solar panels and geothermal technology to produce as much energy as they consume from the power grid over a year.

Patrick Tahaney, development manager for Actus Lend Lease, the private company that is building the homes, said Tuesday the project is still in the design phase and won't be completed until 2010.

But Tahaney says the military hopes the project will be a starting point for finding ways to reduce energy costs for its housing on bases worldwide.

"If you look the consumption rates and how much we're paying for power these days, I think the Department of Defense housing used about 11 trillion Btu (British thermal unit) of power in 2007," he said.

Actus, which manages Fort Campbell Family Housing and has built 400 new homes on the base since 2003, dedicated $500,000 to transform their designs for a two-family duplex into a zero-energy home. The project is also funded with a $870,000 grant from the Department of Defense.

Although the actual cost of the homes hasn't been determined, the military will be monitoring the construction costs and performance of the homes over time, Tahaney said.

"The intent is to take all of the lessons learned in the technologies, see how they perform over time and disseminate that information, not only to other military housing projects, but to other private housing," he said.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Best US Green Places to Live?

Country Home magazine, in conjunction with Sperling's BestPlaces, reveals that Burlington, Vermont is the 2007 Best Green Place to live in America.

Burlington is located on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain between the Adirondack and Green Mountains in northwest Vermont and has a population of 40,000. With programs like Burlington Eco Info Project, the community of Burlington, including the residents, businesses and government, values a green lifestyle and makes it a priority.

"We are seeing a real interest, by both our readers and the marketplace, in exploring a green lifestyle," said Editor-in-Chief Carol Sheehan. "We wanted to find out who in America is actually taking action, where they are, and what they are doing."

Best Green Places
Burlington, VT
Ithaca, NY
Corvallis, OR
Springfield, MA
Wenatchee, WA
Charlottesville, VA
Boulder, CO
Madison, WI
Binghamton, NY
Champaign-Urbana, IL
Ann Arbor, MI
San Diego, CA
La Crosse, WI
Pittsfield, MA
Eau Claire, WI
Durham, NC
Norwich-New London, CT
Eugene, OR
San Francisco, CA
Chico, CA
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA
Barnstable Town, MA
Utica-Rome, NY
Missoula, MT
Asheville, NC

The Best Green Places study, which is based on data discovered by Sperling's BestPlaces, examines 24 data metrics in 5 major categories -- including air and watershed quality, mass transit usage, power usage, farmers markets, organic producers, and number of green-certified buildings -- to determine which metro areas are the best places to live a green life. Sperling's BestPlaces ranked the 379 major metropolitan areas, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Over 80 percent of all U.S. residents live in these 379 metro areas.

Data was collected from sources which include the Census Bureau, the U.S. Green Building Council, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the online directory.

Among its unique green attributes, Burlington has developed a compost facility that collects food scraps from restaurants, supermarkets, institutions and food manufacturers, and the yard clippings and leaves from local residents and landscapers. Once finished composting, local farmers, gardeners and landscapers purchase this nutrient rich soil to use.

Over 16 percent of Ithaca residents (or 5,000 people) walk to work -- the highest percentage in the nation. Combine that with bike riders, mass transit users and home office workers and Ithaca has the greenest commuters.

In Corvallis, over 15 percent residents, as well as the city government, purchase renewable energy. Corvallis was the first city on the West Coast to achieve the Green Power Community designation from the U.S. EPA. The achievement was met after the Corvallis City Council passed a resolution encouraging residents to switch to 'green power.'

Springfield's ReStore accepts donations home improvement materials and sells them to the public at low prices in a convenient retail setting. Inventory includes used and salvaged materials and surplus stock from the building industry.

Wentachee is dedicated to teaching young people about alternative energy resources. Each year at the world's only Solar Drag Race, high school and college students, build and race battery-less, sunlight-propelled dragsters for a chance to win scholarships.

The Charlottesville community puts a value on trees, parks, greenspace, streams and biodiversity. In an effort to balance the natural and built environment and practice sustainability, Charlottesville encourages the use of green roofs, rainwater harvesting, porous paving and rain gardens. These concepts are being demonstrated by the city to encourage adoption in parks and public spaces.

Boulder has the country's best organic food supply. The state's largest farmers' market is in Boulder and runs from April to November and is backed by Whole Foods and a network of co-ops and local producers.

In Madison, the Eco-Fruit project, based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has both policy and field components that enable Wisconsin fruit growers to reduce pesticide use without sacrificing fruit quality. In the Eco-Fruit project's first two years, growers reduced pesticide risk by 58 percent and increased their reliance on Integrated Pest Management strategies by 13 percent.

Binghamton nonprofit organizations extensively promote healthy and organic eating habits. One volunteer group, Club VEG reaches out to educate the public, health care professionals, and health organizations about the benefits of a plant-based diet.

Renewable Energy Initiative at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is working to meet the state's renewable portfolio standard which requires that, by 2006, at least 2% of the electricity sold to Illinois customers be generated from renewable resources. The amount of electricity from renewable resources is required to increase at least by 1% annually, reaching at least 8% in 2012 and 16% in 2020.

Friday, August 1, 2008

E-scrap program inches closer

Electronics recycling in Washington is another step closer to becoming a reality. The state’s Department of Ecology (Olympia) has conditionally approved the Standard Plan for Recycling Covered Electronics, which can be found on the department’s Web site. The 2006 legislation, creating the e-recycling program, allows manufacturers, importers and sellers of covered electronic products — including desktop and laptop computers, monitors and televisions — the option of participating in either Washington’s Standard Plan, or an approved independent plan.

The Standard Plan will receive final approval when three conditions are met:

A collection service plan that meets the rule requirements is completed
The Washington Materials Management & Financing Authority (Woodland) conducts at least one public hearing
The DOE determines that the WMMFA is meeting public outreach requirements.
Over 220 manufacturers of covered items have thus far registered with the electronics recycling program, with no proposals for independent plans being put forward, to date. Implementation of Washington's electronic recycling program is scheduled for January 1, 2009.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


President George W. Bush looks out at the ocean and dreams of oil beneath the waves. Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) look at the ocean and understand how the winds that create those waves can help power the world – cleanly.

Using the same satellite that scans the oceans for wind patterns to aid in weather and climate forecasting, scientists at JPL have been mapping the oceans looking for the best, windiest, locations to build offshore wind farms including deep water possibilities that could employ floating turbines.

Floating turbines are set to become the next big technological challenge in wind energy development. And those challenges are great. Wind turbines are as tall as skyscrapers. Floating, they must be kept nearly vertical even in heavy seas to lessen loads and stresses on blades, towers and generating equipment. On calm days the oceans are still harsh. Corrosive salt water and salty air mean continual corrosion problems with steel components. In the open ocean storms are likely to sink at least a few turbines. Can floating turbines be built and deployed economically enough so that some can be sacrificed? Regular maintenance – which must be done by man – will prove interesting, at least. How strong will stomachs need to be to climb inside 300-foot tall towers that even on windless days will be something less than rock steady? Talk about swaying in the breeze.

Well before StatoilHydro and Siemens launch their first floating offshore wind turbine next year, Siemens is working on a new turbine design for offshore use aimed to cut down on maintenance. The company is testing two prototype, direct drive, gearless turbines similar to those used by German turbine maker Enercon. The long, slow moving blades of a turbine are a good match for a direct drive electric generator which favors high torque over rotational speed. The first 3.6 megawatt device is now erected in Denmark, a second machine is nearly ready for deployment.

The StatoilHydro floating turbine design is a single cylindrical tower – the Spar-buoy – that extends high above the waves and hundreds of feet below it . Atop the tower is a recognizable three bladed turbine. At the bottom of the cylinder – underwater – is ballast, buoyancy and cable anchored to the sea bed to keep the turbine upright.

But the StatoilHydro floating turbine design is not the only idea out there. Inventor Richard Galea of Malta thinks that the tower of a floating turbine should be at the center of a floating ring. The tower and turbine of his patented concept would be mounted in a gimbal-like device at the ring’s center. As waves roll up and down, the gimbal, along with ballasting of the tower and cabling to the bottom, would keep the turbine vertical.

His concept is to be launched as a Technology Offer in CORDIS (Community Research and Development Information Service) a European Union research and development organization.

Drilling for oil and natural gas is still somewhat of a guessing game. Drillers aren’t exactly sure where the reserves are and in what quantity, if they’re there at all. Yet we know with certainty that there’s considerable wind energy just over the horizon, out of sight from oceanfront property owners. The wind is guaranteed. The oil is not. The maps from JPL will prove it. Likely the first floating offshore wind turbine will be generating power long before the first drilling rig strikes it rich on the US continental shelf.

True, today, wind power can’t fuel cars and trucks. But the automobile industry is changing,ready to adapt to plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles. Alternatively, as oil man T. Boone Pickens suggests, more wind power on the grid could displace natural gas now used for power generation freeing up those gas reserves for vehicular fueling.

Instead of using the current oil crisis as an excuse to drill on the nation’s continental shelf, as President Bush has signed off on and wants Congress to do the same, this crisis could be used as the beginning of a sweeping change in energy that could include floating offshore wind turbines.

The JPL’s map research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, was funded by NASA's Earth Science Division, which works to advance the frontiers of scientific discovery about Earth, its climate and its future.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Five companies make the GRADE

Market analysis firm IDC (Framingham, Massachusetts) has awarded a new electronic recycling certification to five companies. Dell (Round Rock, Texas), Hewlett-Packard (Palo Alto, California), IBM (Armonk, New York), Intechra (Jackson, Mississippi) and Redemtech (Columbus, Ohio) are the first companies in the world to receive IDC’s Green Recycling and Asset Disposal for the Enterprise certification, after scoring a 75 percent or higher on a multi-faceted testing system that evaluated companies’ on-site services, logistics, environmental certifications or pledges, landfill or disposal policies, data security practices and other metrics.
"The certification has been in development for four years and it required an understanding of what the market was requiring on the supply side and what was acceptable on the end-user side," explains IDC research manager David Daoud. "Traditionally, there has not been any standard in the industry … no particular body looking at what the requirements ought to be for asset management. Companies have not had a way to report back to their customers on how products are being recycled."
IDC has reviewed 25 companies in all, and hinted that more recipients of the new GRADE certification could be announced in the future. "My suspicion is that we will see more companies become certified, but they will be much smaller companies," says Daoud. Other firms on the list of 25 companies initially reviewed are continuing to consult with IDC over how to make the improvements necessary to achieve certification. Additionally, IDC expects the requirements for the GRADE certification to grow over time.
For more information on IDC and the GRADE certification, attend David Daoud’s presentation at E-Scrap 2008, September 17-18 in Glendale, Arizona.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The end of garbage

Can you imagine a world of zero waste? Cities and towns across the world - and a surprising number of companies - have adopted that goal, says Fortune's Marc Gunther
By Marc Gunther, Fortune senior writer

"Garbage," says the character played by Andie MacDowell in Sex, Lies, and Videotape. "All I've been thinking about all week is garbage. We've got so much of it, you know? I mean, we have to run out of places to put this stuff eventually."

In 1989, America had garbage on its mind. A barge called the Mobro had carried 3,000 tons of unwanted trash up and down the East Coast. California told its cities to recycle 50% of their garbage by 2000 or face steep fines. The national recycling rate was only 16%.

John Casella's company recycles trash - and uses it to produce insulation, fertilizer, energy, and (soon) tomatoes.

Step 1: Prep cook Juan Carlos Rojas disposes of carrot peelings in one of San Francisco's compost-designated carts.

Step 2: Scraps from homes and businesses are taken to a facility where machines sort out stray nonfood.

Step 3: Norcal Waste's facility takes in about 300 tons of food scraps a day. The stuff is mixed with yard waste, ground up, and stuffed into 200-foot plastic bags for "curing."

Result: Four-Course compost, a nutrient rich mix that sells for $8-$10 per cubic yard...

and is used by Kathleen Inman, a former management consultant who owns Inman Family Wines, to enrich her ten-acre vineyard in Sonoma County's Russian River Valley. Her 2005 pinot noir sells for $42 a bottle.
More from Fortune
Square milk and mulch from old tires

What's that made of?

To achieve zero waste, everything that's no longer wanted will have to be made into something else. Sounds hard, but the idea is as old as nature, where one organism's detritus becomes another's food.
Herman Miller
Aluminum beverage cans are made into the base of the Aeron chair, which is also recyclable.
Worn-out athletic shoes collected by Nike are ground up to make basketball and tennis courts, soccer and football fields and running tracks.
The company collects print cartridges and then turns them into parts for its Scanjet printers.
Stonyfield Farms
The company takes back yogurt cups, which are made into the Preserve toothbrush by a firm called Recycline.
Scrap plastic packaging is transformed into park benches by a company called Tangent Technolgies. Unilever then donates the benches to national parks.

Today San Francisco has a recycling rate of 68%, the best of any American city, and it intends to do better. Much better. San Francisco and Wal-Mart (Charts) do not have much in common, but there is this: Both have a goal of achieving zero waste.

So do cities and towns from Boulder and Carrboro, N.C., to Buenos Aires and Canberra, as well as a surprising number of businesses, including Toyota (Charts), Nike (Charts), and Xerox (Charts). They're making headway: Toyota has eliminated all the waste from its 5,000-employee U.S. headquarters near Los Angeles. Governments, meanwhile, are stepping in to regulate the disposal of computers, cellphones, and packaging.

Zero waste is just what it sounds like - producing, consuming, and recycling products without throwing anything away. Getting to a wasteless world will require nothing less than a total makeover of the global economy, which thinkers such as entrepreneur Paul Hawken, consultant Amory Lovins, and architect William McDonough have called the Next Industrial Revolution.

They want industry to mimic biology, where one species' excrement is another's food. "We're not talking here about eliminating waste," McDonough explains. "We're talking about eliminating the entire concept of waste."

This utopian vision is a long way off. But the changing economics of waste disposal, technical advances, and grass-roots activism - along with the feverish desire of big companies to appear green - are bringing it closer than you might think.

San Francisco offers a glimpse of the future. Norcal Waste Systems, the city's trash hauler, provides customers with color-coded 32-gallon carts known as the Fantastic Three - a blue cart into which they can throw paper, glass, plastics, and metal for recycling; a green cart for food and yard waste; and a black cart that's destined for the landfill. (Remember, in cowboy movies the bad guys wore black.) Norcal also recycles tires, mattresses, and light bulbs. "The other garbage companies think we're nuts," says Mike Sangiacomo, Norcal's CEO.

Sangiacomo, 58, has been trash-talking for years. His dad collected garbage back in the days when sanitation men were called scavengers because they salvaged bottles, rags - "anything they could come up with that had value," he says. Now he's trying to return the waste industry to its roots.

Technology is a big help. Norcal operates a $38 million facility that disaggregates all the recyclables in those blue bins. Conveyor belts, powerful magnets, and giant vacuums separate computer paper from newsprint, plastic jugs from water bottles, and steel and tin cans from aluminum. Materials are then sold to global commodity markets - and we do mean global.

Wastepaper, for example, is the U.S.'s No. 1 export by volume to China, according to PIERS Global Intelligence Solutions, which tracks trade. Ships that bring products from China to the U.S. return with wastepaper, which becomes packaging for goods made in China.

A second innovation is the city's handling of food scraps. Another Norcal facility grinds all that up with yard waste and cures it for three months. Banana peels, onion skins, fish heads, and other detritus are thus transformed into a nutrient-rich product dubbed Four Course Compost, which sells for $8 to $10 per cubic yard.

One satisfied customer is winemaker Kathleen Inman, who knows that all good wine - her 2004 Olivet Grange pinot noir retails at $42 a bottle - begins in good soil. She spreads Four Course Compost on her ten-acre vineyard in Sonoma County's Russian River Valley. "I was very taken by the concept of bringing into my vineyard what would normally go into a landfill," Inman explains. "When someone enjoys the wine at a table, they are completing the recycling circle."

Driving this virtuous cycle are market incentives. San Franciscans get about $5 off the standard $22-a-month collection rate if they can make do with a smaller black bin, sending less to the landfill. Merchants earn discounts for recycling, and Norcal gets bonuses for keeping waste out of landfills.

Jared Blumenfeld, director of the city's environment department, says, "The most important thing we do is incentivize people financially to do the right thing and make it more expensive for them to do the wrong thing." This "pay as you throw" pricing scheme drives up recycling rates sharply, studies show. But only about 20% of Americans pay for trash collection based on how much they discard. No wonder we're an effluent society.

While the concept of zero waste is as old as nature, recycling is newer. In 1968, Madison, Wis., became the first U.S. city to offer curbside recycling, for newspapers. Recycling got a boost with Earth Day in 1970, and again after the EPA imposed strict regulations on landfills in 1991. When done right, recycling saves energy, preserves natural resources, reduces greenhouse-gas emissions, and keeps toxins from leaking out of landfills.

So why doesn't everyone do it? Because it's often cheaper to throw things away. The economics of recycling depend on landfill fees, the price of oil and other commodities, and the demand for recycled goods. Paper, for example, works well: About 52% of paper consumed in the U.S. is recovered for recycling, and 36% of the fiber that goes into new paper comes from recycled sources. By contrast, less than 25% of plastic bottles are recycled, and we use five billion (!) a year.

Americans generated an average of 4.5 pounds of garbage per person per day in 2005, the EPA reports. About 1.5 pounds were recycled. That's a national recycling rate for municipal solid waste of just 32%.

What's in our garbage? Paper and cardboard (34%), yard trimmings (13%), and food scraps (12%) are the three biggies. All can be easily if not always profitably recycled. Plastics (11.8%) are next, and are harder to recycle. "The plastics industry hasn't been as interested as others in working through its problems," says Gary Liss, a California zero-waste consultant. "They have fought bottle bills all over the country for 30 years."

Bottle bills are an example of "extended producer responsibility," a key tenet of zero-waste. It puts the onus for safely disposing of products on the companies that make them. Yes, it's a controversial concept. (In this country. In the EU, makers of household appliances are obliged to take them back.)

The deeper purpose here is to change the way things are made. "From our perspective, waste doesn't need to exist," says San Francisco's Blumenfeld. "It's a design flaw." Carpet companies Interface, BASF, and Milliken, furniture makers Herman Miller and Steelcase, and clothing firms Nike and Patagonia have all redesigned products to make them easier to recycle.

Over time the economics of recycling should improve. The costs of virgin commodities are likely to rise as supplies dwindle; fees will climb at landfills as they fill up. Landfills also release methane, a greenhouse gas that could be taxed because it contributes to global warming. Meanwhile, recycling has become a $238 billion business, employing 1.1 million people, according to the EPA.

Despite all that, recycling rates have flattened lately. "We have to reengage the consumer," says Kate Krebs, executive director of the National Recycling Coalition, a trade group whose board includes executives of Dell (Charts), Coca-Cola, and Time Inc. (Fortune's parent company). "If we don't, then all the commitments that Wal-Mart and Dell and others have been making will be difficult to keep."

A Hewlett-Packard (Charts) executive named Rene St. Denis went to China in 1994 to see what happened to printers and computers after they were thrown away. In the coastal city of Guanjo, she watched hundreds of people smash machines to get at the metals inside. "The disassembly process was basically - and I'm not kidding - hit it with a rock," she recalls. "You pay someone $2 a day to strip away $3 worth of copper, and it's a pretty good business." It's also a dangerous business because computers may contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury, and cadmium.

Within a year St. Denis had begun to clean up HP's act. She helped form a partnership with a Canadian metals and mining firm called Noranda to build a recycling facility near Sacramento. Here, old printers and PCs come to die: After technicians recover reusable parts, the machines are chopped up by powerful shredders, smashed to bits by a granulator, and sorted by magnets and air currents. Precious metals go to Noranda; aluminum, glass, and plastic are sold to recyclers. Nothing goes to landfills.

HP provides free recycling to some customers but charges others $13 to $34 per item. Even so, HP's recycling operation runs at a small loss, which is viewed as an investment in the firm's reputation and values. "To the degree they understand, customers have a better view of HP," says St. Denis, who now runs HP's recycling business.

As HP set the pace, Dell became a target. Because Dell used prison labor to recycle PCs, protesters picketed a speech by Michael Dell at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2003. The company began offering recycling: first to buyers of new equipment, then to anyone willing to pay $30, then $15. Last year it eliminated the fees altogether - the only PC maker to do so. In January at CES, Michael Dell said, "I challenge every PC maker to join us in providing free recycling for every customer in every country all the time. No exceptions."

Monday, June 2, 2008

Why we should love logarithms

The tendency of 'uneducated' people to compress the number scale for big numbers is actually an admirable way of measuring the world, says Philip Ball.

Philip Ball

Do kids instinctively think logarithmically - and is this the smartest way to look at numbers after all?PunchstockI'd never have guessed, in the days when I used to paw through my grubby book of logarithms in maths classes, that I'd come to look back with fondness on these tables of cryptic decimals. In those days the most basic of electronic calculators was the size of a laptop and about as expensive in real terms, so books of logarithms were the quickest way to multiply large numbers (see 'What are logarithms'.

Of course, logarithms remain central to any advanced study of mathematics. But as they are no longer a practical arithmetic tool, one can’t now assume general familiarity with them. And so, countless popular science books contain potted guides to using exponential notation and interpreting logarithmic axes on graphs. Why do they need to do this? Because logarithmic scaling is the natural system for magnitudes of quantities in the sciences.

That's why a new claim that logarithmic mapping of numbers is the natural, intuitive scheme for humans rings true. Stanislas Dehaene of the Federative Institute of Research in Gif-sur-Yvette, France, and his co-workers report in Science 1 that both adults and children of an Amazonian tribe called the Mundurucu, who have had almost no exposure to the linear counting scale of the industrialized world, judge magnitudes on a logarithmic basis.

Down the line
The researchers presented their subjects with a computerized task in which they were asked to locate on a line the points that best signified the number of various stimuli (dots, sequences of tones or spoken words) in the ranges from 1 to 10 and from 10 to 100. One end of the line corresponded to 1, say, and the other to 10; where on this line should 6 sit? The results showed that the Amazonians had a clear tendency to apportion the divisions logarithmically, which means that successive numbers get progressively closer together as they get bigger.

The same behaviour has previously been seen in young children from the West2. But adults instead use a linear scaling, in which the distance between each number is the same irrespective of their magnitude. This could be because adults are taught that is how numbers are 'really' distributed, or it could be that some intrinsic aspect of brain development creates a greater predisposition to linear scaling as we mature. To distinguish between these possibilities, Dehaene and his colleagues tested an adult population that was 'uncontaminated' by schooling.

The implication of their finding, they say, is that "the concept of a linear number line seems to be a cultural invention that fails to develop in the absence of formal education". If this study were done in the nineteenth century (and aside from the computerized methodology, it could just as easily have been), we can feel pretty sure that it would have been accompanied by some patronizing comment about how 'primitive' people have failed to acquire the requisite mathematical sophistication.

Today's anthropology is more enlightened, and indeed Dehaene and his team have previously revealed the impressive subtlety of Mundurucu concepts of number and space, despite the culture having no words for numbers greater than five3,4.

Everything in perspective
But in any event, the proper conclusion is surely that it is our own intuitive sense of number that is somehow awry. The notion of a decreasing distance between numbers makes perfect sense once we think about that difference in proportionate terms: 1,001 is clearly more akin to 1,000 than 2 is to 1. We can even quantify those degrees of likeness. If we space numbers along a scale such that the distances between them reflect the proportion by which they increment the previous number, then the distance of a number n from 1 is given by the harmonic series, the sum of 1 + 1/2 + 1/3 + 1/4 and so on up to 1/n. This distance is roughly proportional to the logarithm of n.

This, it is often said, is why life seems to speed up as we get older: each passing year is a smaller proportion of our whole life. In perceptual terms, the clock ticks with an ever faster beat.

But wait, you might say – surely 'real' quantities are linear? A kilometre is a kilometre whether we have travelled 1 or 100 already, and it takes us the same time to traverse at constant speed. Well, yes and no. Many creatures, execute random walks or the curious punctuated random walks called Lévy flights, in which migrations over a fixed increment in distance takes an ever longer time. Besides, we can usually assume that an animal capable of covering 100 kilometres could manage 101, but not necessarily that one capable of 1 kilometre could manage 2 kilometres (try the latter case with a young child).

Yet the logarithmic character of nature goes deeper than that. For scientists, just about all magnitude scales are most meaningful when expressed logarithmically, a fact memorably demonstrated in the vision of the Universe depicted in the celebrated 1977 film Powers of Ten The femtometre (10-15 metres) is the scale of the atomic nucleus, the nanometre (10-9 metres) that of molecular systems, the micrometre (10-6 metres) the scale of the living cell, and so on. Cosmological eras demand logarithmically-fine time divisions as we move closer back towards the Big Bang. The immense variation in the size of earthquakes is tamed by the logarithmic magnitude scale, in which (roughly speaking) an increase of one degree of magnitude corresponds to a tenfold increase in energy. The same is true of the decibel scale for sound intensity, and the pH scale of acidity.

Law of the land
Indeed, the relationship between earthquake magnitude and frequency is one of the best known of the ubiquitous natural power laws, in which some quantity is proportional to the n th power of another. These relationships are best depicted with logarithmic scaling: on logarithmic axes, they look linear. Power laws have been discovered not only for landslides and solar flares but for many aspects of human culture: word-use frequency, say, or size-frequency relationships of wars, towns and website connections.

All these things could be understood much more readily if we could continue to use the logarithmic number scaling with which we are apparently endowed intuitively. So why do we devote so much energy to replacing it with linear scaling?

Linearity betrays an obsession with precision. That might incline us to expect an origin in engineering or surveying, but actually it isn't clear that this is true. The greater the number of units in a structure's dimension, the less that small errors matter: a temple intended to be 100 cubits long could probably accommodate 101 cubits, and in fact often did, because early surveying methods were far from perfect. And in any event, such dimensions were often determined by relative proportions rather than by absolute numbers. It seems more conceivable that a linear mentality stemmed from trade: if you're paying for 100 sheep, you don't want to be given 99, and the seller wants to make sure he doesn't give you 101. And if traders want to balance their books, these exact numbers matter.

Yet logarithmic thinking doesn't go away entirely. Dehaene and his colleagues show that it remains even in Westerners for very large numbers, and it is implicit in the skill of numerical approximation. Counting that uses a base system, such as our base 10, also demands a kind of logarithmic terminology: you need a new word or symbol only for successive powers of ten (as found both in ancient Egypt and China).

All in all, there are good arguments why an ability to think logarithmically is valuable. Does a conventional education perhaps suppress it more than it should?

Friday, May 16, 2008

How to Escape From a Black Hole

Written by Nancy Atkinson

According to Einstein's theory of general relativity, black holes are regions of space where gravity is so strong that not even light can escape. And in the 1970's physicist Stephen Hawking asserted that any information sucked inside a black hole would be permanently lost. But now, researchers at Penn State have shown that information can be recovered from black holes.

A fundamental part of quantum physics is that information cannot be lost, so Hawking's claim has been debated. His idea was generally accepted by physicists until the late 1990s, when many began to doubt the assertion. Even Hawking himself renounced the idea in 2004. Yet no one, until now, has been able to provide a plausible mechanism for how information might escape from a black hole. A team of physicists led by Abhay Ashtekar, say their findings expand space-time beyond its assumed size, providing room for information to reappear.

Ashtekar used an analogy from Alice in Wonderland: "When the Cheshire cat disappears, his grin remains," he said. "We used to think it was the same way with black holes. Hawking's analysis suggested that at the end of a black hole's life, even after it has completely evaporated away, a singularity, or a final edge to space-time, is left behind, and this singularity serves as a sink for unrecoverable information."

But the Penn State team suggest that singularities do not exist in the real world. "Information only appears to be lost because we have been looking at a restricted part of the true quantum-mechanical space-time," said Ashtekar. "Once you consider quantum gravity, then space-time becomes much larger and there is room for information to reappear in the distant future on the other side of what was first thought to be the end of space-time."

According to Ashtekar, space-time is not a continuum as physicists once believed. Instead, it is made up of individual building blocks, just as a piece of fabric, though it appears to be continuous, is made up of individual threads. "Once we realized that the notion of space-time as a continuum is only an approximation of reality, it became clear to us that singularities are merely artifacts of our insistence that space-time should be described as a continuum."

To conduct their studies, the team used a two-dimensional model of black holes to investigate the quantum nature of real black holes, which exist in four dimensions. That's because two-dimensional systems are simpler to study mathematically. But because of the close similarities between two-dimensional black holes and spherical four-dimensional black holes, the team believes that this approach is a general mechanism that can be applied in four dimensions. The group now is pursuing methods for directly studying four-dimensional black holes.

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.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pacific Swell on the way

Pacific Wide Swell Alert from Surfline, effective Tuesday, February 12, 2008.High Pressure hanging over the West Coast has left an open corridor for strong storm activity in the Central Pacific.

We have a large storm now brewing up solid and significant swell that will be headed into North Shores of HI later this week and then track its way to the West Coast by the weekend. Even better, with the High pressure in place, that means conditions will be generally pleasant during much of this run of waves.

Make sure to CHECK THE SURFLINE FORECASTS to get all the latest details.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Californians against Waste

Welcome to the Home of Californians Against Waste!

Hot Issues

We want to thank all of our friends and stakeholders for your continued support for California's environment and for Californians Against Waste.

Among our priorities in 2008:

Reduce the proliferation of plastic litter and waste in the environment through new state and local policies on takeout food packaging, including restrictions on PVC and Polystyrene.
Expanding California's e-waste policy to reduce toxics and increase opportunities and incentives for recycling.

California's ambitious effort to combat climate change and reduce GHG emissions will require that we substantially reduce waste beyond our existing goals. But if we are to be successful, we need to shift from the 'back end' focus and burden on local governments, to proven 'front end' producer responsibility strategies aimed at source reduction and market development, as well as recycling. And as always, we welcome your advice and assistance in identifying problems that need our attention and solutions that need to be brought to the attention of policy makers. Please do not hesitate to call or e-mail me any time.It's an ambitious agenda, but with your help I'm confident we can be successful. Please help us fulfill this agenda by going here now!
AMERICANS WILL THROW OUT more than 12 million tons of electronic equipment next year according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C., estimates. Without programs to recycle this electronic waste (e-waste), the old computers, televisions, cell phones, and other devices made of plastic, metal, glass and toxic chemicals will begin to choke the nation's landfills.

To prevent this problem, the EPA has conducted several electronics recycling (e-cycling) pilot programs in conjunction with local governments and retailers. The lessons learned from these pilots can aid in establishing permanent e-cycling programs nationwide.
The first EPA pilot tested the effectiveness of curbside collection and drop-off e-waste locations in Mid-Atlantic states between Oct. 1, 2001, and Dec. 30, 2002. Pilot participants included the EPA's Philadelphia office; environmental agencies from several states and the District of Columbia; local solid waste departments; electronics manufacturers; electronic recycling companies; and private waste management companies.

The participants shared the e-cycling program's $1.9 million price tag, with the largest share — $1.4 million — falling on state environmental agencies and local governments. “This was the first time we came up with a system of shared financial responsibilities to pay for, collect and deliver recyclable electronics,” says Claudette Reed, a scientist in the waste and chemicals management division of the EPA's Philadelphia office.

By sharing the burden of managing e-cycling programs, the EPA hopes the cost of hosting such programs will be viewed as reasonable by all groups involved.

According to the pilot's final report, the undertaking also yielded five lessons. First, aggressive advertising is critical to the success of an e-cycling program. In the pilot, local governments targeted advertisements at residents using television, newspapers, Web sites, flyers, posters and utility bill stuffers. During the 15-month pilot, the Delaware Solid Waste Authority alone spent $40,000 on advertising.

The pilot also taught the EPA that residents are generally willing to pay small end-of-life fees in the range of $2 to $5 to help pay for e-cycling.

The EPA also learned that permanent collection programs are more cost-effective than single-day collection events.

Additionally, a pilot program can serve as a catalyst for local governments to create permanent e-cycling programs. For example, the success of the pilot led officials in Lebanon County, Pa., to establish a permanent curbside electronics collection program. In Frederick County, Va., a successful drop-off event has led to plans for a series of e-cycling events.
Finally, the pilot confirmed that a high volume of residential and small-business electronic devices is available for collection and recycling.

Another EPA pilot begun in the Pacific Northwest now is operating nationally, thanks to Del Ray Beach, Fla.-based Office Depot and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) based in Palo Alto, Calif. In this pilot, Office Depot agreed to take back old electronics through its national store network. HP then joined the program to see how it might contribute to current company recycling efforts, which break down old products for reuse.

While results have not yet been reported for this pilot, Katharine Osdoba, product stewardship team leader for the EPA, notes two points of interest. To date, recyclers have not found ways to make e-cycling profitable. If manufacturers can receive the materials directly and reuse them to manufacture new products, the economics may work better, she says. The EPA also is hoping that manufacturers interested in recycled electronic materials will begin working on green product designs to reduce toxic materials and make recycling easier.

In a third pilot, the EPA is exploring whether retailers are practical collection points for e-cycling. The EPA, office product retailer Staples, based in Framingham, Mass., and the nonprofit Product Stewardship Institute operated the program. In this pilot, consumers returned used electronics to Staples, which transported the materials to central warehouses for pickup by recyclers. “Finding ways to move materials to a point where recyclers can pick [them] up in bulk has been a problem,” Osdoba says. “We're waiting for data on the pilot to see whether this approach might work.”

In the meantime, California and Maine have decided not to wait for pilot results and passed legislation governing e-waste. The California legislation mirrors existing state legislation for recycling tires, batteries and other difficult-to-recycle products. In California, consumers purchasing electronics products will pay recycling fees to retailers at the point of purchase. The fees will go to state environmental regulatory agencies, which in turn fund recycling programs and enforcement.

Maine's legislation takes a different tack. It will begin as a traditional state-funded recycling program. However, within a few years, the program will be funded by manufacturers instead of the state. “This is consistent with programs in Europe and Japan,” says Kevin McCarthy, vice president of government affairs with Houston-based Waste Management Inc.

Today, the search for e-waste solutions is just a few years old. It began when the EPA formed the National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative (NEPSI) in 2001. Members include electronics manufacturers, retailers, recyclers, and state and local governments.
NEPSI aims to develop ways to collect, reuse and recycle used electronics, and to suggest incentives to stimulate source-reduction, reuse, recycle, reduce toxicity and increase recycled content in product design. Additionally, the organization has attempted to discuss financing mechanisms for e-cycling, but this has been a contentious issue.

Nevertheless, NEPSI discussions and pilot programs similar to those conducted by the EPA are characteristic of the development of national regulatory programs, Osdoba says. As groups and pilot programs define options, states will draw on that information to develop legislation. After several states have weighed-in on the issue, the federal government likely will develop national legislation defining minimum e-cycling standards, using the most sensible state programs as a benchmark. With federal legislation in place, states then will be able to enforce or raise the minimum standards to suit their needs, she says.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kansas ewaste

Kansas begins program to better dispose of electronic waste
By: Brie Handgraaf

With a quick turnover on modern technology, landfill operators find it difficult to properly process electronic waste."There are many materials in electronic goods that are hazardous, such as lead and mercury," said Rebecca Clark, senior in biology.Clark is president of Students for Environmental Action at K-State. "Keeping these hazardous substances out of our landfills is good for both the environment and for human health," she said.As part of a new program, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment will use grant money to set up e-waste collection centers across the state."Overall, KDHE and other elected state officials want to promote the recycling of e-waste rather than dispose of it in landfills," said Bill Bider, director of the KDHE's Bureau of Waste Management. "KDHE hopes that the state-sponsored collection centers will complement and further stimulate the growing private sector that processes e-waste into marketable materials."Recycling is a growing business with strict regulations."E-waste management is important to maintain the environment and public health," said Rebecca Roth, senior in anthropology. "I hope that appropriate recycling measures are taken so the chemicals don't make it into the water supply."Through the new e-waste program, recycling centers must obtain permits to process electronic waste."The requirement to obtain solid-waste-processing facility permits will lessen impacts as well by ensuring that workers safely handle e-waste and prevent releases of hazardous constituents to nearby populations," Bider said. "Permits also require financial assurance, which means the taxpayers of Kansas would not be financially responsible to dispose of or recycling e-waste that might be abandoned at these facilities."Bider said convenient recycling centers would decrease the chances of improper dumping and lessen the risks for environmental contamination."By safely recycling e-waste, we are directly affecting our air and water quality both in a local and global level," Clark said. "If all of Manhattan properly disposes of e-waste then we reduce the hazards of local groundwater contamination as well as the need to mine these materials in other areas around the world."For more information, go to or

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles