Waste and Recycling
Landfill - Our Legacy
The Techno-Process describes the movement of materials through the economy. Unfortunately when we have finished with things we waste them and throw them away. There is no such place as "away" and doing so has impacts on the planet. Waste is a serious problem often causing ill health, leading to the contamination of land, underground water, streams and coastal waters (destroying our fisheries) and giving rise to various nuisances including increased traffic, noise, odours, smoke, dust, litter and pests. There are various estimates, but globally we produce about 5-600 million tonnes of waste each year.
Not only are landfill tips unsightly possibly unhealthy places but as materials disintegrate over time they release their constituents to the global commons via groundwater and the air as dust and many of the molecules involved are dangerous to life and upset the global homeostasis. A number of heavy metals are for example cumulative poisons and methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Like in natural mature ecology, we must learn to mimic nature and waste little or nothing
Many countries have adopted a strategy for ultimately zero waste however do not seem to have an adequate grasp of how to get there.
For greater sustainability it is obvious that we need to reduce, reuse and recycle in that order of priority because all recycling techniques consume energy for transportation and processing and some also use considerable amounts of water.
Recycling involves the reprocessing of materials into new products. Recycling prevents useful material resources being wasted, reduces the consumption of raw materials and is supposed to reduce energy usage, and hence greenhouse gas emissions, compared to virgin production.
To recycle materials the current paradigm is to sort them based on chemical property. Contamination with other materials must be prevented to increase value and facilitate easier reprocessing. Under this scenario only large sophisticated facilities can operate profitably. Size and sophistication cost money so recycling plants are sparsely located. Recycling under the current paradigm is essentially driven by the trucking business and is wasteful of resources. It could be improved.
We are in or have passed peak oil and the concern we have here at corporate TecEco is the rising cost of transport fuels which are a major component of the cost of recycling due to the effort required to collect and move wastes and large distances between recycling facilities.
Because of this and other concerns there is some doubt that the current paradigm of recycling based on chemical property actually saves energy or money - on the contrary, it may even require more energy and money for some materials in some cases.
Recycling Based on Physical Property
TecEco believe that the way to avoid all these problems is to recycle based on physical property as doing so does not require transport to sophist iced but sparsely located plants. According to Pilzer, it is technology that defines what is or is not a resource. The key therefore in circumstances where transport costs are high and rising is to develop technologies that use wastes in the form they are in, where they are. This involves using them for their physical properties.
West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil Market Timeline.
All over the world governments are imposing taxes or introducing laws requiring recycling. With this purpose in mind TecEco have developed cement technology that is low reactivity and has high adhesion to all manner of materials. Our mineral binder system is ideal for the manufacture of composites of the future based on wastes recycled for physical property as well as chemical composition. Paper and plastic for example have in common the physical properties low weight, high tensile strength and low conductance. Bound together in a composite by TecEco Eco-Cement such wastes add value and make ideal green composites of the future. Many wastes can be converted to resources in this way.
The concept of mining waste for physical and well as chemical properties makes much more sense than doing so on chemical property alone. It can be practiced on a decentralised basis by large and small companies alike. Wastes can deliver a wide range of properties to composites and most importantly, using wastes in this way makes zero landfill a realistic destination.
By recycling based on physical property we would be bio mimicking the jackdaw or bower bird that selects materials in this way to build its composite nest.
The Jackdaw Recycles Based on Physical Property
During earth's geological history large tonnages of carbon were put away as limestone and other carbonates and as coal and petroleum by the activity of plants and animals.Gaia engineering tececologies such as those of TecEco and Global Sustainability Alliance partner Greensols that sequester carbon in calcium and magnesium carbonate materials as well as use other wastes to create the built environment also geomimics nature.
The Built Environment of the Future will be Made with Composite Materials Incorporating Wastes and Delivering new Properties
Gaia engineering tececologies go beyond what is thought of as an industrial ecologies because they actually reverse damaging moleconomic flows caused by industrial ecologies that are unsustainable. We call them tececologies because they do this as well as produce useful outputs.
To reduce the impact on earth systems by waste the key is to continue to invent new technical paradigms and assemble them into tececologies that result in underlying moleconomic flows that mimic, reverse or at least do not interfere with natural flows and that support rather than detrimentally impact life and the planet.
There's wealth in waste particularly if it can be used and in large quantities as would be possible if wastes were recycled based on physical as well as chemical composition. Significant overall improvements in sustainability are achievable.
Players in the waste industry interested in recycling based on both physical as well as chemical properties should contact TecEco