Monday, 12 September 2022

Direct Capture CO2 Scrubbing

Efforts To Clean Up Earth Won't Cost The Earth

... and no longer have to.

When are we going to get the idea? Solar PV (PhotoVoltaic) energy is one of the least damaging ways to get energy that already falls on Earth, to do some Work on Earth, without Digging Up the Earth. THIS is a very innovative and valuable concept.

To the first person to comment with "but it needs eeeeennnneeeeerrrggyyyyyyy!" I am going to present a large mallet to smack themselves on the head with. I've posted in the past, on various of my blogs, that energy is going to become the one resource we'll have so much of that it may as well become free. And it will also be the least damaging to the environment. Energy is about to become dramatically democratised.

So setting these up at CO2 hotspots and powering them with renewable energy makes sense. As does that the energy companies pay some of their outstanding debt to the planet by supplying free energy to these installations. Without trying to screw their other customers for it. High time they paid their dues, anyway. Front up, you planet-destroying bastards!

Some Other Tech Worth A Mention

Also, this that I wrote about a while back may become the next way to cool the planet - using heat-beaming technology by the acre, powered by solar energy, to beam our heat back out into space. This technology can already be set up, and like solar panels, the technology will improve rapidly. It can then be used to pump heat out of the environment and beam it harmlessly out into space.

And I've been offering a simple method to cool solar panels (because once solar panels get much above room temperature they lose efficiency and produce less energy) which would capture that heat energy and also convert that to electricity, thus making the whole solar panel up to perhaps 30%-40% efficient as compared to only 24% efficient as they are now.

Then too there's been a recent interest in growing food crops under large solar panel arrays such as are used in solar farms. It makes sense, plants do need some sunlight to grow, but too much per day or too hot and their growth suffers and you end up producing less food per acre. Planning carefully just where crops are sited under the "canopy" of solar panels will ensure they get the optimum balance between light, shade, temperature, and evaporation. 

Now combine these ideas. 

Set up large scale solar farm. Get 24% of the energy back in electricity, another 16% back in recovered heat energy. Use some of that energy to bring up groundwater (a water bore) and distil it, use that to grow vegetables. They convert a tiny amount of CO2 back into O2 and food.

(I have been trying to develop this as a concept and making it available Open Source to anyone - or any company - to put in place.

Use the electricity to run CO2 scrubbers like the above-pictured, and take even more CO2 out of the air. Use the rest to power the farm and also to power a heat exchanger that will take more heat out of the air, and beam all that up into space. 

One installation that generates its own energy and microclimate, grows food, cleans CO2 out of the air, and provides some electricity and some fresh clean water to the respective grids would be a great start. Ten thousand of them would alleviate the climate issue over a few years.

Now imagine also that these installations can make H2 fuel and the batteries run an EV charger. You can set these up along routes everywhere, set them up as IoT/cellular connected nodes. You now have a resource that grows food which can be picked up in driverless trucks and distributed, and provide water, hydrogen, and a recharge point for drivers along that route. You can use low pricing to keep other EV chargers honest and drive prices down, supply any remaining energy to the grid. 

Parting thoughts.

In order to survive the coming years we're going to have to make radical changes in a whole range of our behaviours. I believe that changing our economic system to remove the profit motive and replace it with pure equity will be a necessity because as long as one person profits someone or something else loses, and for too long it's been the planet, and we can't afford to milk it for our greed any more.

Each, every, and any move that can be made to create self-sustaining operations such as the above combined system above will serve to refocus the economy away from profit at any cost to repair and restitution of the planet. After all, when there's no pressure to profit, all such operations are in effect costless, and the sooner we start this particular ball rolling, the sooner we can make reparations.

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Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Gripping (The Rails) Stuff

What Happens In The Albert Stays In The Albert
Imagine this is a TV antenna mast.

I like Tom Scott's Youtube channel. He's a natural, finds interesting stuff to report on, and has also produced a few game and chat shows that are brilliant. A few days ago he posted this video and it ticked a lot of boxes for me. 

It was about old stuff, and I'm old... 

It was about stage and entertaining rigging - I've done that, roadie-ing and front-of-room sound for a band, and also built some of the gear they used. 

It was about heights, and that really struck a chord with me. I worked for a radio/TV shop on country farmhouse TV antennas, usually up 20 - 40m on those skinny triangular section masts, and my last time to go up was 30 years ago. 

On that climb I had to shift my safety belt up over the last guy wire at the top so I undid it, went to pass it over, and the unthinkable happened, a freak gust of wind, the tower gave a tiny shimmy - and I was hanging by nothing except my chin over the antenna beam and a toehold with one foot. 

My glasses fell down and shattered, I recovered, did the job, climbed down and went back to the van, said to my boss it was good that insurance would cover the breakage - and he told me he didn't have any insurance whatsoever. 

I quit at that shop that afternoon. I found out later that he'd gone bankrupt hence no insurance, and he also hadn't paid my income tax to the taxation department so I was liable for it. 

That was my last climb for anyone, couldn't do it any more, I never really recovered from either event. And the guy literally went mad, ended up in care, and passed away within two years of that day. 

What Tom did in this presentation was impressive. Pure visceral fear is a bitch. When I finished repairing that antenna and climbed back down, I realised I'd also peed myself a little bit, and when I thought about it and tried to climb back on that mast I never experienced such utter paralysis before and after that. Tom kept going, showing us all around the roof. Kudos. 

The End.


This Is The End

... of this article. But it's nowhere near the end for me. It takes several days to find a topic to write about, properly research it, and then write and schedule it. I don't have any assistance and I don't have the kind of income that allows me to use a scheduling service like established writers can. I also spend some of my limited pension on keeping servers and domain names going, more on parts for the R&D I do making the machines for recycling waste. You can help me by sharing this article or the link to the newsletter I put out, or more directly by making a Paypal donation here. Failing that you can also go to my Ko-Fi page and set up a monthly donation. (It's like Patreon without all the bullsh*t.) Everything you can do, will help me keep going.     

Friday, 26 August 2022

Weather Screen

The Fine Art Of Useless Info

It seems that being not content with a system that worked (even though the Bureau of Meteorology said  that they "...changed the daily rain forecasts on its app following widespread confusion..." - and yet I found it easy to understand) the BoM has changed the rainfall prediction information on their site to a system that's even more opaque. At least, to me. 

Let's face it, most of us look at the Bureau website, select our location, and then look at the resulting page and say "Oh yeah, rain today, '90 per cent chance of rain of between 2 to 4mm' " and while technically as BoM says we'd be wrong, we would still be right enough for our purposes. We'd grab an umbrella on the way out the door. We'd know that it was highly likely to rain today.

It actually, though, made perfect sense to me - it was almost certain it would rain, and somewhere from 2mm up to possibly 4mm. Like anyone else, I'd also leave a margin above the upper figure, and a smaller margin below the lower one. We all know how weather forecasts are 50% BS, 50% inspired guesses, and 50% malicious misdirection, don't we? 😸 

Now, with the new "system" the first digit is 75% likely and the second is 25% likely, and how does that help me work out the actual chance of ANY rain today? If the first figure is non-zero, it'll always mean "Aw geez sport, 75% likely to have rain, why'd you want to know any percentage other than 75%, ya fussy drongo?

And now I have NFI - is it REALLY ALWAYS going to be 75% likely to rain, even when the actual likelihood might be 90%? Or 15%? 

A true lesson in how to take something that's worked and has allowed people to make a confident assessment of the day's weather, and rep[lace it with as system where confidence has dropped completely. 

And maybe they know what utter BS most of their weather reports are anyway, and are just wanting to bring their predictions to a point where they seem to be winning: "Look, before, there was a 1 in 10 chance we'd get the rainfall prediction right, now it's much better, it's  1 in 2, either it rains like we said or it doesn't. A quarter of the ti. . . - umm hang on . . . either it rains like we said in the first number or else i- or else. . .  - or else we miss out on the 75% - I think - and so we're wrong three times in fou. . . - hang on, we'll get back to ya.

Meanwhile, most of us will look at the "Chance Of Rain" line on the graph and ignore the bit we know is BS - the figures themselves... 

Footnote:

Want to know more about what I do? Check this page.




















Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Unsolicited

This Is Correspondence

I received an email recently, I'm leaving it anonymised but thought I'd pass on the writer's tip:

"Hello,

I saw you mentioned (redacted).com on your page here tedalog.blogspot.com/2007/05/shrunk-trite-new-grammar.html. I really struggle with grammar, so I'm always searching for ways to check my emails, etc. without bothering others.

Another great tool I recently found is: https://www.websiteplanet.com/webtools/spell-checker/

I was amazed by the features: not only can you spot your mistakes, but you can also implement the edits it suggests automatically and just copy the fixed content. And it supports many languages. I thought it was worth sharing with you, as I believe it could be a great additional resource for your site, and I’m sure your users will appreciate it too. I hope this will help you as much as it helped me!

Best,

(redacted)

PS: In complete transparency, I used the tool to check my email before I sent it to you :)"

I won't linkify the links because in my experience unsolicited emails / comments are generally spammy, but there are no affiliation links in it so it's probably harmless. If you need a spell-check then perhaps it can help you. It *seems* okay on a quick visit but I must stress that I haven't personally used this spellcheck, my regular readers will know that I don't use them... But the corrrespondent was kind enough to pass on the information so - there it is.

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If you can, take a look at my News Stand where you'll see live updated links to everything I publish; or take a subscription to my weekly newsletter where you'll receive the same information in your inbox for free; Or contact me via the webform or directly email me if you'd like to help; or donate either directly or here or at my Ko-Fi page for the price of a coffee, or even make a regular monthly donation there.



























 

Saturday, 18 June 2022

What Happened?

What happened with these?

Every so often I look back. I keep monthly, large, chock-full-o-links, pages on my documents server and use them to collate my article ideas, links of interest, random thoughts, and sometimes even most of the body of an article ARP. (Almost Ready to Publish)

I collect some of those items into a followup file where they get a bit more of a chance to get published. This is my "dafugappened file" and every so often I check for news so I can either update the article I published or finally publish one due to finally having more info on the subject.

And sometimes, there's a resounding silence and those are my real dafugappened things, so sometimes I have to do a quick search and then slide those articles to the "retired" section. But sometimes, there's things that still bear mentioning, if only for the mysterious nature of what did happen to this

Settle in. This is a slightly long article.

First order of business is: "WTF happened to this NBN connection?"

Catchup:

When we moved from halfway back to the hills and down to the coast, we needed to also move our old ADSL2 connection which we held with Telstra. (Aussie almost monopoly telcom, we used to own it but our RWNJ government privatised it and it's been sucking the hindmost tit ever since - to use a good old USAianism.) After four years of having had nothing but issues with that ADSL connection in the old location, we'd finally had a minor win. Not a resolution, but a workaround.

The tech support person I spoke to not long before we moved, listened patiently while I told him I knew the problem was the wiring in the pit outside getting wet after heavy rain and Telstra never considering that worth sending a technician out to do a 20 minute job and how we'd phoned in the exact same thing year after year and every year we lost Internet for two months of the year cumulative due to rain, and he acted. 

"We've got these new modems they have a mobile broadband modem and if your connection drops out they automatically fail over. You'll literally be the first person in your district to get one. Pardon? Whose mobile broadband account? Oh, the SIMs are paid for by Big Pond Internet, not your concern."

And two weeks later, the new Frontier gateway thing arrived, I plugged it in, set up our home DHCP addresses on it, and it worked. When it rained, the landline dropped out and we didn't even notice. 

Forward to 2018 and we'd moved to our new rental, plugged the shiny Frontier modem in and - it didn't connect. . . Several frantic calls to Tech Support later, we discovered that we were in a newly-converted NBN area. The old phone lines were no longer analog, but humming with digital promise. And yep that was why the landline phone wasn't going to work either. 

I said ". . . but we discussed this, we need a landline here and you did say we'd be able to move our old number with us, so whatcha gonna do? . . ." After a week of calls, they sent a tech out with a new white box, plugged it in, plugged our old landline phone into it, and we had a new number. ("uh yeah, VOIP, we don't have the same number pool, didn't they tell you?") We took the small win, but still didn't have any Internet. 

So I rang about that. Using the phone, which was using VOIP, which uses DATA, sent over the now shiny new DATA phone connection. "We're very sorry but you're in a location that's just recently changed to NBN abd your line still isn't ready for data." DaFug? 

"I'm speaking to you on a phone plugged into a Big Pond NBN modem, using the DATA connection to do so. The data connection is established. Please give us the connection we were promised we'd have last month at the latest." 

"I'm sorry Sir, I'll escalate this to The Back End Team." (I shit you not, he pronounced it with capital letters. Wow this Back End Team must be da shit, eh?)

They weren't. In the meanwhile, having chewed through all our plan data on our mobiles, I decided that Telstra could wear this, and turned our modem on and let it dial into the mobile data network, and just left it running. For, as it turned out, EIGHT WEEKS.  

Yep. Rather than connect our new modem, they hemmed and hawwed, fiddled and farted, and despite twice weekly calls to Tech Support and The Back End Team, at the end of six weeks we still had no broadband, it was now eight weeks since we moved, and I'd had enough. 

Well, no - I was still hopeful but then I phoned the B.E.T. support desk and the person on the other end of the phone floored me: "Okay I'll have to ask the back end team."

I: "But is this not the Back End Team desk?"
BET: "Yes, but we can't do this, we have to ask the back end team."
I: "I'm so sorry, but I've been phoning this number thinking I WAS talking to the fabled Back End Team that was supposed to be working out why our phone line - this line, which I am using to speak to you with via an analog phone connected to a Big Pond modem and sending VOIP data over the existing DATA connection that is obviously working on our line here, so I can't understand what's going on. We have a data connection that's been stable for six weeks, we have a Big Pond modem obviously connecting over broadband to the NBN, so - WHAT THE HELL IS MISSING?"
BET: "well our records show that there's an issue on that li..."
I: "But we're connecting right now using that line without any issue. what is the problem?"
BET: "The back end team has to clear the issue and then the line will be clea..."
I: *CLICK*

That evening I used the free generous mobile broadband connection to email DCSI, a local ISP, and that was a Friday, on Mondat a new broadband NF10 modem arrived and by an hour later I had our broadband up, the new VOIP connection and number working, and used the new connection to log into Telstra's customer portal and cancel our accounts. That took ten minutes compared to the estimated 10-11 hours I'd spent going nowhere with them in the last two months and proved to me that Telstra is actually set up to fail and lose customers rather than to retain them.

But that modem...

Well, the NF10 was rubbish from the get-go, and DCSI pretty quickly replaced it with the NF16. And then THAT failed and they replaced it, then THAT unit failed and they didn't want to replace it so I RAed it with Netcomm, who by that stage had been bought out, but unfortunately with another NF16 which has also failed. Yeah, Netcomm went belly up and bought out for a reason. And our ISP, now taken over by Swoop, also (and probably quite rightly, although if I was their head of TS I'd have just replaced to to maintain a better public image) won't replace it. And I'm calling them out on it. If they send a NOT Netcomm modem that actually works for longer than 12 months then I'll update this but I will not change a word of the existing article. Christ, four years I've been their evangelist in our region and this crap is what I get. 

And now for something completely different

Bacteria Eats MicroPlastics! I put this in my list almost a year ago: www.theguardian.com / science / 2021 / apr /28 /scientists-find-way-to-remove-polluting-microplastics-with-bacteria You are my last hope, Pseudomonas aeruginosa!

. . . and I haven't seemed to see the slightly undesirable (because it's a pathogen to humans, after allp. aeruginosa in any more news but the hunt for a little ally in the fight against microplastics is on:

How Plastic-Eating Bacteria Work.
Newly discovered bacteria eats and digests PET plastic.
Scientists find bacteria that eats plastic.

And I posted about Biobots And Plastic Recovery in the Zen Cookbook Blog a little while back, showing that we have a little robot (well, little biobot) army at our disposal as well if we can just develop them to the mission, so there's hope that one way or the other - or all ways at once - we'll start making a dent in this insidious problem.

And now for an abject failure

Which I hate to end an article on, so this is the before-to-last segment of this article... 

Victoria had an "Elimination Day" target in mind and we could have been one COVID-free place on the whole goddamned planet. We actually HAD that. What happened? 

A Liberal / National Party Coalition, is what. Their "economy is more important than your lives you plebs!" attitude completely totally and utterly has condemned tens of thousands of Australians to death because - money money money money money moneymoneymoneymoneymoneeeeeeyyyyyyy!!! is far more important than human lives if you're a right wing nut job libtard. 

We saw our chances at being a COVID-free island wrecked by capitalist forces, and eventually Western Australia (which is where I came from, and coincidentally the State government there is also a Labor government) was similarly white-anted into opening their borders and are now the same as every other place on Earth these days.

I'm not a Socialist, bu . .  What am I talking about? I'm a Socialist and an Anarchist and I think capitalism and an "economy" are the worst possible things to have ever happened to the planet and to our species. When did we start to idolise pathological hoarders of a currency that has no relationship to any of the real wealth of the planet? (That real wealth being the health of our planet aka our life support system.)

Another FAIL

Here's a bit of news that has more impact AFTER it's been proven than it did before. Despite it having been well known that the warming weather would start making the planet unlivable (and hey, who gave a toss about this 20-30 years ago when scientists first started saying stuff like this) it's come to the point where - well, look at the last four links in this paragraph . . .

I can't

I can't let this article end on a note of fail. I'll add a footnote after this little opinion piece, but this is the goodest news I have gotteth. 

You may have seen here and there that I'm really really into doing something about - everything - that's going on around the world in the areas of climate change, waste accumulation, fossil fuel pollution and its companion, decarbonisation, renewable and sustainable energy, small scale recycling, and letting you and everyone else that I can reach know about all these things. You can help by sharing the heck out of my articles like this because the more people see it the more people will talk about it and the more people talk about it the more people will DO SOMETHING about it - be that email their local government member, email a CEO like the CEO of AGL and tell them you don't want any more of their pollution and greed, sign petitions, and maybe go to a demonstration to let the whole world know how they feel.

Heck, they might even read about plastic recycling and do guerilla plastic recycling at home. . . Or recycle their food waste into their vegetable garden. All sorts of anarchy could result. 

And all it takes is for you to share the link to this article on your favourite social network, or text it to a friend. . . Or even donating so that I can keep the servers running and domain names paid for with some of your money instead always my pension. . .  Not kidding, this costs me hundreds every year. And I pay it out of a pension that was recognised as being well below the poverty line 20 years ago and has gone backwards since then. I could really do with the help. 

Footnote:

In addition to writing these articles I'm also experimenting with ways of recycling waste that can be done at the cottage industry or community hub levels, not so much because it'll magically convert 100% of local waste into recycled useful articles, but because people who are doing these sorts of activities are likely to talk about them to people in their community, and so raise even more awareness of the issues and dangers.

So please - if you can at all spare some time, take a look at my News Stand where you'll see live updated links to everything I publish; And take some time and share the links to the News Stand and this article with your friends and readers. 

Take a subscription to my weekly newsletter where you'll receive the same information; 

Or maybe contact me via the webform; Or email me;

You can also donate either directly or at my Ko-Fi page for the price of a coffee, or even make a regular monthly donation there.

All donations are put towards keeping these websites online, and for developing devices, machines, and techniques to easily and safely recycle materials on a tiny scale.

Thursday, 9 June 2022

So Many Recycling Things #03

 Some World Recycling Projects #3

Summary and wrap-up

This is fairly self-explanatory, I noticed a few things as I watched the videos, took notes, then rewatched segments until I had all the info I wanted, and then tried to compose my thoughts about them. As such this is highly subjective and reflects only my own views.

I look at all these episodes with an eye to my project which is to give people the means to do basic recycling with simple inexpensive equipment and techniques. The hope is that people will get the recycling bug, form local community recycling hubs, and then involve and educate their community.

To see all the articles I write, head for the footnotes

Summary

There were a few cons - as in conniving, 'con-artist' and not contra - in the series. I counted about half a dozen of those, and suggest we make the best of those by using them to disseminate information about sustainability, cradle to cradle circular materials management, and recovery.

Several more were well-intentioned but poorly executed and/or generated almost as many problems as they solved.

Rather a lot of the enterprises were hampered because no corporation or government wants to chip in and help grow them, and sometimes that's just general inertia but sometimes it's because to admit there was a problem would also mean having people make the connection that that particular governmet or corporation is responsible for the issue being recycled, and they are the kinds of eco-disasters that come with lawsuits and class actions attached...

There are as I've mentioned a range of technologies now being developed and available for managing heating and energy in sustainable ways. Our task is to balance these in ways that do the least damage to the planet and restore as much as possible of it. But to keep in mind that proper and specifically targeted application of energy is a solution to many of the issues developed in these three articles. 

Being Earthlings and Stewards of the planet

Using the term 'family' in taxonomy (as in referring to 'the algae family' earlier on) should tell us something - we're not humans and apes and monkeys and fungii and lichens and trees etc - we're EARTHLINGS and we need to start thinking about ourselves in that light - pretty much right now.

If we'd never lost that sense of stewardship due to 'convenience' and economy, our planet and our extended family would never have gotten into the state it's in now. Economising on our efforts (i.e. 'convenience' ) made survival sense in the past but no longer does. There's no longer a survival rationale to our old behaviours, we have enough to easily survive. 

We need to have less 'convenience' and pay far more for what convenience we do have. But see this next paragraph or two.

UBI (Universal Basic Income)

Maintaining 'wealth' was a good survival buffer but again it makes no sense in the current era. Keeping that wealth from 'subclasses' may have made sense when masses of rapidly breeding people had no access to education and had to be controlled, but in this day and age, education (which IS now available thanks to online video and lessons and freely availableshould now be available to all.

(IDEA: Maybe instead of that much-vaunted 'social credit' or 'carbon credit' as a world currency should be also include 'education credit'  and be capped at some sensible level.)

The point is that if we shared things the least bit equitably, almost everyone on the planet could live well enough. The 'Middle Class' deomgraphic that came about last century and the century before, are now only one step up the wealth ladder from homeless refugees and in fact a few of the middle class will also become climate refugees in a really short time frame. 

As far as that goes a UBI could become a given in under a month- as long as everyone got one. Including people right at the top, the 1% of the 1% that own 80% of the wealth of the planet. You can see where the problem is going to lie, can't you? 

So-called "eating the rich" doesn't mean cannibalisation. It means persuading or legislating those with the wealth to redistribute it. There's a growing trend among billionaires to give most of their wealth away, and this is a good thing and a bad thing. 

Footnote:

In addition to writing these articles I'm also experimenting with ways of recycling waste that can be done at the cottage industry or community hub levels, not so much because it'll magically convert 100% of local waste into recycled useful articles, but because people who are doing these sorts of activities are likely to talk about them to people in their community, and so raise even more awareness of the issues and dangers.

So please - if you can at all spare some time, take a look at my News Stand where you'll see live updated links to everything I publish; And take some time and share the links to the News Stand and this article with your friends and readers. 

Take a subscription to my weekly newsletter where you'll receive the same information; 

Or maybe contact me via the webform

You can also donate either directly or at my Ko-Fi page for the price of a coffee, or even make a regular monthly donation there.

All donations are put towards keeping these websites online, and for developing devices, machines, and techniques to easily and safely recycle materials on a tiny scale.


Thursday, 2 June 2022

So Many Recycling Things #02

 

 Some World Recycling Projects

Season 2, more recycling tales

Here's the second video marathon, plastic paving bricks, toxic lake and town, vegan leather, shoes made from plastic bags, recycled polystyrene, using lavender to remediate polluted soils, refrigerator recycling, shampoo bars, tiles made from soot, teddy bears stuffed with cigarette butts, luxury plastic bag bags, repurposing Christmas trees, and lithium batteries. Dive in!

Season 2

The following sections refer to this Business Insider World Wide Waste series season 2 video.

Plastic Bricks

I saw this almost a year ago and was impressed at the enterprise and had my few thoughts. Unfortunately (and unavoidably) the process releases fumes because the plastics are heated to very high temperatures, and there should really be a huge charcoal filter to draw those fumes out of the air. But as the purpose is to nail down plastic that would otherwise be in landfill . . .

. . . and yeah, there you have the other issue - it's still being disposed of in landfills, just right on the surface not buried. As mentioned in the article, this is not the ideal solution as abrasion from vehicle tyres still creates microplastics, there's one more ray of light on the horizon: electric vehicles are a bit lighter on roads than fossil fuelled vehicles because light weight equals more range out of a given battery capacity - and EV manufacturers really want to alleviate range anxiety

So a mixed thing for me. Combine their materials (prepared with lower temperatures so it's not so toxic) with Precious Plastics' sheet press and you could create a very durable flooring material for foot traffic areas. Tempting, anyone? 

Butte toxic lake, waste rock, remediation

This comprises two episodes, one focusing on the birds and one on Butte itself. As they're part and parcel related I've lumped them together in this entry.

The lake produces a small tourist income, yep. But it comes at the expense of continuously exposing migrating birds to sulfuric acid, and not on actually remediating the lake or the town as the mining company should. It's just a sop, an appearance of doing something

The town is built on 'waste rock' which is poisoning the soil, and covered in half a metre of soil - why not force the company to strip back the topsoil, put the waste rock into the lake to slowly fill it up over a decade or two? And then properly fix the soil this time? 

And while you're at it, all that recovered, mixed, and not useful for precision applications plastic from a few episodes back - why not use them to make a series of cylinders the size of 200L (44gal) drums, and float those on the surface of the lake to scare birds off? 

Then as you tip more rock in, the drums get confined to a smaller and smaller area and finally you break them up and burn them for energy.

The important thing to realise is that if the people minding that lake had a different guaranteed income such as a Universal Basic Income (UBI) they'd still come there because they enjoy it. 

Also know that if  Arco (the current owner of the Anaconda mine property) were to really pay for real remediations  they'd be circling bankruptcy and trying to pay almost as much as the mine's profits over its entire operation.

We need to start realising that money is at its basis a fiction, and worth nothing in the face of the disasters we're about to encounter. 

Vegan Leather.

They call this great material 'leather' but it's better than leather, it deserves a better name. And to see it with stamped-on snakeskin or alligator embossing seems depressing. Instead of 'leather' maybe find a unique name like 'appeel' (- heck, come on! People got away with the name naugahide for heaven's sake -) and pattern it to look unique and new. Make it stand out. 

This material needs to be more publicised. Ask any alligator or snake. 

Plastic Bag Kicks

This does get soft (LDPE, Low Density PolyEthylene) out of the waste stream. For a while, until the shoes are thrown out. Which is better than a blowing wasteland of discarded plastic bags. 

Also good is that they use a polyester canvas made from PET bottles for the uppers. So is the fact that even if the shoe has to be recycled it's now a dense mass of LDPE and PET rather than paper-thin sheets and bottles.

One thing that's a bit less appealing is that trend I've mentioned already, to embed seeds in everything and call it green when in fact in some ecosystems it could become an invasive weed. I wish they'd stop doing this. . .

Wind Turbine Recycling

Wind turbine blades are, as admitted in this episode, only going to form 1% of waste in another decade or so. And now comes a tentative nibble at some of the larger issues, as alluded to in my very early sidetrack.

Firstly, we need to need less energy. That's problematic already and only going to get worse as we transition to electric transportation and as global temperatures necessitate more cooling but with some new technology on the horizon, it's going to be attainable.

Secondly, There are a couple of other uses for these blades than just burning them for energy and two are shown, but the internal details of these blades wouldn't be common knowledge, which might account for there not being more uses for them. 

Just in the few seconds here I thought of two, three, or four identical blades set vertically in foundations and supporting something like an observation platform over a wildlife park or natural scene.

Or (wild idea being thrown out here) three, arrange in a teepee formation and skinned with recycled plastic panels and recycled wood interior, use it as the tourist centre at a wind or solar farm or some recycling operation. Great publicity! 

Recycled Polystyrene

It's a dangerous plastic as it's toxic when burned or overheated and is flammable, but I'd rather see it in solid chunks than lightweight fluffy packaging (SINGLE USE!) and insulation. (Which it's good at but not the ideal solution.)

It can be broken down by mealworms into - well, mealworm poo - which is safe to use as a soil for crops. A pseudomonas type bacterium can convert styrene oil into a biodegradable plastic. So it can be broken down.

It produces horrible smoke when burned and it catches fire easily. It melts just above about the boiling point of water. 

In dense (unexpanded) form it is sometimes used to make plastic cutlery and yoghurt tubs and similar, but with the low Tg (Glass Transition Temperature aka softening/melting point) I might prefer other cutlery. And anyway - disposable convenient cutlery is bad. Right? 

I also remember that I had several plastic models as a kid that were made from PS and the glue was horrible stuff that gave me headaches unless I kept a window open. 

So these guys might just be the saviours of the Revell model lineup...  

Lavender Soil Rehabilitation

Lavender is a cash crop that grows in poor soils, but so does mallow. And I realise that (given how we still believe that money and 'the economy' are important) making some income from the remediation seems to be important, but believe me, it isn't. 

That's why I can see that growing a culinary product in polluted soil seems to be the only way out of this, but perhaps there's a clever dodge going on here.

The mining company is held responsible for the remediations. And for damages arising. But they've now seemingly offloaded some of that responsibility to the organisation in this episode. 

And the lavender must be drawing out toxins and metals from the soil. Since the plants can't magically make that disappear, it's still in them.

Then parts get sold as essential extracts and culinary herbs. When the inevitable poisonings and issues arise from ingesting all of that, who is now responsible for damages? The original mining company, or the people that are selling the product?

The trouble with this scenario is that it seems far-fetched and Machiavellian. Until you look at the track records of big corporations . . .

Refrigerator Recovery

It's another good effort. Cleanly draining refrigerants is - well, to do anything else would be beyond just common criminl and into super-villain level crime. So identifying the gases and sending them to be destroyed if they're CFC based and re-using them if they're still legal to use, is a good way to deal with this toxin. 

The description of how the illegal gases are destroyed, also points out how enough energy can disassemble anything. Remember this whenever someone says that a particular material is too difficult to neutralise and decompose quickly. 

Energy is becoming cheaper and cheaper both in monetary and environmental terms, and there are now also technologies that promise to deal with the heat problem. Go to the footnote and subscribe to the newsletter for the article that I'm currently researching about this. 

The inslulation. Powdered, it can probably be put in road mix just as much as any other plastics can. Failing that, it too is susceptible to large amounts of energy to burn it back to base elements.

Shampoo Bars

Shampoo bars are a good idea. That is all. Think how many shampoo bottles hit the waste stream every day, and while those may be HDPE and LDPE (High Density PolyEthylene and Low Density PolyEthylene) and very recyclable, it's still another waste to corral and wrangle, so shampoo bars in paper packaging are a good direction.

Carbon Tiles

As I watched this I realised that here was a thing that at its basis went back to artisans thousands of years ago - when having a tiled floor was a symbol of wealth, a useful way to prevent the soil under where you lived from shifting, and a more easy to clean floor.

These tiles don't need kiln firing but instead use a press and water curing process. That alone means they are eco-friendlier than ceramic tiles that do need firing.

And I wish large companies making ceramic tiles would undertake to make such tiles - but without the inevitable shortcuts those large companies make, without themselves becoming a source of pollution.

And I wish people understood that such flooring isn't a given, and isn't even necessary. I'm also thinking that waste-consuming technologies like those plastic/sand pavers should be developed into a system for making tile flooring that can be used in houses in place of the tons of environment-damaging concrete.

Think about this: Laminated wooden flooring is better for forests and the environment, yes. But it's made with epoxies and resins that aren't as friendly. And of course you're again skating that thin line between durability and decompose-ability. 

So more projects like this please. 

Food Waste Compost

All food waste recovering systems are good in my book. The only thing better than turning food into compost and/or biogas is if the food is caught at the stage before it becomes unfit for consumption and given away / distributed / turned into a more durable food product that can be distributed to those in need. Go for it!

Cigarette Butt Re-use

Here's a thing that's kind of cool. The gathering of cigarette butts for the filters which are then cleaned and made into a fluffy filling for teddy bears and soft toys.

But as that item says, the filters contain heavy metals. I'd want to know for sure that they were really really clean before I bought one of the teddies but there's so much more that gets recycled from a simple cigarette butt that it's an eye-opener.

The paper, still having nicotine in it, is turned into mosquito repellent sheets and I think I'd prefer that to malaria or dengue fever so this too is a brilliant adaptation to get every bit of use out of the resource.

It's all a good and fairly thorough use of every part of the resource, and all production operations could learn something from small operations that are this thorough.

Luxury Plastic Bags

This goes right up there with the plastic bag kicks and general plastic recycling. Anything we can divert from the waste stream until technology and energy come up to the point where we can decompose the plastics back to base elements, is good. 

Also, just like the ring-pull bags, they allow a story to be told, an awareness to be created. Keep the processes clean, keep up jobs, and make sure people that buy them come away impressed at how much can be done with the things that we currently, thoughtlessly, throw away.

Christmas Trees

Every year a sizeable portion of the world's population holds a religious festival that I reckon causes more pollution in a few weeks than we make for the next six months. (BTW I'd welcome anyone that has figures for this to contact me. Use the Contact Me link just a short way down in the footer and let me know.)

Knowing that the trees that are grown specifically for this festival and then become waste, this use of them is a bittersweet thing. It's lovely that they end up naturally decomposing back into the ecosystem and providing shoreline stabilisation as well. Also, these live trees still have a smaller carbon footprint than plastic trees.

And I realise that the trainee pilots would probably fly just as many hours on exercises as they do when using the trees for practice, so I'm okay with it because it repurposes two things, pilot time and ritual objects. 

EV Batteries

This is actually one of the episodes I had the most issue with. Car batteries were an issue - once. Then the industry realised what an almighty muckup lead actually was, and within a few years lead became one of the most recycled resources on the planet. 

Mild prevarications aside, the out and out scaremongering: ". . . and sometimes . . . . . . . . lithium batteries . . . explode . . ." has to be one of the most cringeworthy things that I've ever seen. Even when the series was aired, the problems had been mostly ironed out, and - especially in the EV battery industry - it became a non-factor in buying an EV. 

The company being profiled in this episode could have possibly done a bit more towards actually recovering lithium from the batteries, but okay - there's still more research than actual lithium recovery going on, and it's still early days. 

The video also shows people manually opening an EV battery pack and implies that EV battery packs are that difficult to recyle - but most often these aren't opened like that for scrapping, but for possible reconditioning. I'd rather see battery packs recycled by hand because it'll lead to more of the materials being recovered.

And in any case, EV batteries aren't a huge component of the battery waste stream. Worldwide only 9% of Lithium Ion Batteries ("LIBs") get recycled and the rest go to landfill, and almost 100% of these LIBs are cellphone, power tool, laptop, and similar devices' batteries. 

EV battery packs still aren't so commonplace that they just get thrown out wholesale, because as mentioned a few paragraphs back they can be reconditioned, and of most battery packs only a relatively small number of cells are faulty so EV packs are still treated as a valuable resource.  

Also before I close this segment I'd like to mention home solar batteries, which are also starting to enter the battery waste stream. We do need more research into recovering the elements of LIBs.

Footnote:

In addition to writing these articles I'm also experimenting with ways of recycling waste that can be done at the cottage industry or community hub levels, not so much because it'll magically convert 100% of local waste into recycled useful articles, but because people who are doing these sorts of activities are likely to talk about them to people in their community, and so raise even more awareness of the issues and dangers.

So please - if you can at all spare some time, take a look at my News Stand where you'll see live updated links to everything I publish; And take some time and share the links to the News Stand and this article with your friends and readers. 

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Wednesday, 25 May 2022

So Many Recycling Things #01

Some World Recycling Projects #1

... and some commentary by me

NEEDS A LINK TO BFZCB biobots story (Mon 23rd)  near first intermission

It seems there are millions of environmental disasters these days. I was looking for a few things to brighten my day instead of doomscrolling. And I came across two videos on Youtube that showed me that some projects are actually recycling and making great new products. They were the Business Insider World Wide Waste series season 1 and season 2 marathons. 

(WARNING: These two videos are over four hours long between them. And if  - like me - you're interested in seeing some good news, then that four hours takes six hours with breaks to take notes, make cups of tea and coffee, and chat about it. And then I wrote a Conclusion.)

I've split this into a series of three articles because one would far exceed my preferred range of article lengths. I'll post one a week from now on, and if you're up for it, the first two articles are written pretty much as I was watching the videos, then re-watching them to flesh out my notes.

As usual, the 'notes' ended up being wild ideas fired back and forth, and here are a few of the best ones, so if you're game to fall down the rabbit hole with me, come for a romp through four hours' worth of engrossing videos:

Season 1:

Business Insider World Wide Waste series season 1 - watch the video here, and the sections below follow the order that they appear in the video.

Chopsticks Recycle

It's beautiful. Hot damn it's lovely to look at and I'd love a recycled chopstick panel for a feature wall in the house. And yet it's sad that there's this waste is a problem in the first place, so I reckon the primary aim of these products should be to make people aware of the mess their choice to use disposable cutlery makes. 

And perhaps cities should impose a cost on that convenience, to maybe curb the problem at the source.

Maybe though there's a bit of sun shining through - those chopsticks are either made of wood or bamboo after all, and both do decompose quite well naturally. Also as observed in the segment, one can ask for them NOT to be included in one's meal. 

There's also a tiny bit of shade to cast, too - and that's because of the resin. Because the product shouldn't just randomly decompose and leave you without a feature wall,  it's introducing a new long-lasting thing, but one that'll enter the waste stream eventually.

So right there, in the first video of the first season of the show, is the one standout rule that needs to be emphasised: Almost all waste is down to 'convenience.' I'd also like to say that the idea of convenience really only took hold in the Plastic Age after the Eight Hour Day was first introduced. 

Sorry for a sidetrack right off the bat, but:

Before the Industrial Age, before the Eight Hour Day, there were just "days." And you spent your 'days,' in 'living.' People got up, ate something if they had it, went off to find more. Whether they did that by foraging or hunting or growing it. And in between, they rested or played. The whole notion of an eight hour day or convenience would have seemed silly to them.

Yes there were always a few people with 'convenience' due to positions of wealth and/or power but it wasn't anywhere near as ingrained as it is in the present day.

When industrialisation took hold, people were needed to work in time-ordered shifts. You had to get up to do a whole other kind of day. Before, even if you were a farmer or hunter or gatherer, you could pick your times of day to do stuff, and while it sort of depended on predators and prey and seasons and so forth, it wasn't set in stone.

That held true for a lot of the time up to the Industrial. But then things changed, and if you weren't there at the start of the day's shift well you might lose that work, and so time became important. After almost a century of that, you heard that not everyone had to work from sunup to sundown and never have time with the family. 

The eight hour day was a lot of things. It was the beginning of a more fair system of exploitation, a way to manage that whole slippery 'shifts' thing - and the start of a thing called 'convenience.' You got eight hours to sleep, eight hours to work, and eight hours of leisure time.

And by thunder, you weren't going to let small things like cooking and laundry get in the way of your leisure time. So it was 'convenient' to spend less time buying food and cooking it, it was 'convenient' to not be building your own furniture in your leisure time. 

Of course, that was also 'convenient' for a growing commercial sector that found that econiomies of scale meant they could pack more customers through a single shop that sold more than just a limited range of stock, that they could make your 'convenience' meals also 'convenient' for them by packing them with preservatives so they could make them in huge batches and sell them in months. 

And plastic was 'convenient' for everyone all around. Until now. . .

Anyway - convenience should always have cost more than it does and yet it never did. Put it on the planet's tab. . .

Back to the video.

Flower Incense

Really nice way to make use of a waste stream that's quite significant and localised to India - I like incense anyway, and this is a good way to turn flowers that would otherwise just add to the toxic overload entering the river into a new product that gives employment as well. 

We're strange, we create religions and belief systems and then blindly follow them into potential disasters and danger. Even polluting that deity's sacred river . . .

Avocado Plastic

Avocado (and other biomass-based) plastics bring me to another thing - plastic does come from organisms. Whether that comes from fossil fuel oils or the oils of "OI! I'm not quite fossilised yet!" organisms like avocado stones or algae, it's a bit ironic isn't it that we make utensils out of ancestors and contemporaries? 

And especially with fossil fuel based products, I always have this urge to blame it all on "The Curse Of Digging Up The Ancestors."

But back to the plastics themselves - it's pretty wonderful that we can make even slightly more biodegradable plastics with younger biomass. It's always going to be a fine line between the end product decomposing as you're carrying your food to your table, or taking a hundred years to decompose under natural conditions. 

Luckily, we do have enzymes that are crazy for specific varieties of plastics including avocado plastic et al, and they only need a relatively mild temperature to become activated and digest those plastics - and energy is becoming cleaner and cleaner and cheaper and cheaper all the time, so this is going to be a much more attainable goal as time passes.

Speaking of which, I've got a story in the works about energy, heat, and getting rid of  heat from the planet. Keep an eye out - or better still go to the footnote and subscribe to the newsletter and be informed when it comes out.

Algae flip-flops

Or as we Aussie like to call them to the amusement of the rest of the world, '"Thongs maaaate!"

These are a GREAT idea, and I support the idea. I think they're not exactly high fashion nor really good safe footwear but I do reckon they have a place in the world of footwear. 

The family of algae are some of the best biomass generators in the world and we should be using them a lot more, both as a raw material and as a food. Spirulina is an acquired taste - but so are eggs, beer, insects, and cilantro. And I can grow spirulina in old PET bottles if I have a mind to, and then eat it or experiment with it. I've used culinary spirulina and quite like the seaweed/marine flavour it has. Maybe a series of thing I'll try with algae is forthcoming. Hit me up in the footnote if you like the idea, hey?

Vegetable Biogas

The difference between burning biomass and digesting it into biogas is actually quite a thing. If you just burn biomass, it creates the heat energy, yes. But also digestion creates gas which is easily directed indoors to a cooking or heating device and there it burns without as much black carbon being released. 

And it creates fermentation heat locally, meaning if you situate the biodigestor in your greenhouse you can warm that too as a byproduct. Keep the worst of the frosts off, save your seedlings, keep a productive vegetable production going. If that's your bag.

Biodigestion also creates a sludge that you can use directly as a fertiliser and thus sequester the carbon, or you can dry it and use it, or heat it a bit more to create biochar, which also improves soils and soil fertility, and also sequesters carbon back in the soil where it belongs.

Mushroom Mycelium Products

It has to be said here (and I know myself - I'll probably come back to this point again and again) that is that mushroom mycelium is never going to taste like bacon - so stop calling it that and proudly call it by a non-meat name.

I'm not a vegan or vegetarian but I don't turn my nose up at any culinary experience, and even mycelium has a nice mushroomy flavour you don't need any fake flavourings to make it the star of a meal. 

The cool thing here is that they've worked out how to grow mycelium to order as it were, and from there all the uses for that mycelium are great. Once again and for heaven's sake, it does NOT have to be called 'leather' either - it's a product in its own right. And texture it to look like nothing else before it ever has - make it stand out. 

A big tick from me though - and probably an even bigger tick from that crocodile or snake that didn't end up as leather. . .

Banana Textiles

As the article notes, banana fibres are strong, beautiful, easier to dye (and thus needing less dye) and have been around for a long time in many cultures.

One common thread I often see, and which is also a result of the 'convenience' and 'economies of scale' era we're in, is that some small businesses want to 'grow the business.' They don't seem to see the irony of that, which is that it makes their eco-friendly project into a new corporate monster in its turn. 

So it's good to see many of these small businesses that are happy to just make 

Also, and as pointed out in an episode in the second season, clothes should be valued and kept by their owners, not be a throwaway item. So these smaller manufacturers should sell the product for what it's worth and not aim for parity with the mass-produced garbage. 

Bread Crumbler

Now we're getting to a subject close to my heart (and stomach, and soul, and very being) which is this bread crumbler machine. From my Austrian beginnings I remember real bread dumplings of flour and old dry bread, made by my Oma Mitzi and by my parents. 

I like using breadcrumbs in my cooking and while I've never thought to use them to extend flour in baking I can see that it's a natural holdover from the thrifty (for lack of a better polite word) origins of modern bakers. 

And I can almost taste that recycled bread and I can tell you that - in my 'mind's mouth' - it'd be tasty as. I'll definitely consider this and will probably experiment with it in my baking at some stage.

For now I just want to add that dried bread is also a worthwhile thing - teething rusks used to be just bread that was sliced and cut into 'soldiers' and then placed back in the oven to dry out. 

When I make bread dumplings and don't have dry bread, I put stale bread in the oven and let the oven dry it out the day before. Then I discovered large mason jars and now I can make big fluffy lovely bread dumplings any time I want . . .

And I'm just saying, but - once the baking's done for the day would be a great time to put in chunks of yesterday's bread and dry it right out, bakers. And if packed airtight you could sell 'dumpling bread chunks' all year round. Are you hearing me bakers? 

Sliced breads, French breads, heavy rye breads - these are all great to use in dumplings and will also keep for months if kept airtight. Don't change your thrifty ways, bakers!

E-Waste Recovery

LINK GOES DOWN HERE

This was interesting - I've just done
>>>several stories about biobots<<<
 that should in theory be able to tag specific materials, about bacteria and enzymes that make short work of plastics. And then these videos came along and now I can confidently say that I won't be doing any e-waste recycling projects - no home based industry can match the technical sophistication of this operation. 

That said I'd love to have the gear to do this a there's a lot of money in metals recovery and that would finance my projects to make induction furnaces, presses, injection molds, and filament extruders. . .

(Note: I also blog about small and tiny scale recycling and when I come up with new techniques, new simple adaptations of existing domestic utensils and gadgets that we may already own, or any other useful info, I make it available on one of these blogs or in other places online. See the footer for how to find out more.)

Pineapple Plates

Once again with the bioplastics (although as I mentioned fossil fuel based plastics are technically still bioplastics) and this time with a twist - embedded seeds. Must admit mixed reactions.

On the one hand, they are great for using a resource that's otherwise not easy to use. (Well, I can offhand think of a few like stock feed, stock feed additive, fattening food for livestock, digestibility bioimprover, biogas,) On the other hand, attaching potentially invasive species seeds to the plates so they can claim the novelty factor. No. Just no. 

If they must spill their seeds upon the ground then make some long strips that have seeds spaced at the right distance and with particular seeds, sell them as a garden supply. Print advertising for these strips on the backs of plates, and ads for their plates on the underside of the seeding strips. Sheesh is that not better than bobby trapping their plates with biohazards?

Mushroom Final Exit

This one, hmmmmmmmm. . . On the one hand it's such a cool idea, on the other they look absolutely wonky and fully dodgy. And I just can't forget that we buried our dead to prevent animals from eating the corpses. . .

On the plus side the mycelium and moss just snack up all the heavy metals and other stuff we decompose into that isn't all that eco-friendly, and so our passage back into Earth is not traumatic for the planet. (For instance, all the microplastics that we ingested in our lifetime. But that's for another article, hey?)

"Bottlecap" (actually "ringpull") handbags

It's an elaborate process for a very limited portion of the waste stream and with appeal to a small group of clients, but if it makes people more aware of recycling then it's worth every penny. 

And actually, art like this should cost a bit. It provides employment for people, it will look good, and eventually those ringpulls will still get to the smelter anyway. 

Things like this are good for small groups to get into and raise recycling awareness in their locale.

Clothing "Recycling" 

... surely you can see that we've attained wan-...  - err, sorry, warp - factor nine? This is a waste, a travesty, and a greenwash. It's a cynical attempt to extract multiple incomes out of each item of clothing. There are honest efforts out there to extend the life of clothing (like Fixing Fashion) and any of the methods outlined there is better than the rubbish in this episode.

Also there's the attitude of fast clothing companies like H&M that say they won't back down and they intend to continue to pump out a significant waste stream and that kind of says it all for these large corporations doesn't it? Scuse me while I almost swear - but eff them. No wonder H&M got unceremoniously rejected in China recently. 

Artificial Reefs 

Could have been a good thing if they'd asked a scientist and listened to them when they'd have (inevitably) said not to use stuff that'll do more harm than good. Adding in dead people and making money off their families was a nice touch but somewhat overshadowed that they didn't offer to sink a second reefball for each burial. What? They said that they'd never even supply 1% of the habitat needed, surely they could show some social and ecological conscience too?

IKEA Waste / Recycling Mall

I've lumped these two together because. Because they're next to each other, they have similar aims, and similar methods.

Now do excuse me but does anyone think this is taking away the income of various charities? Shop owners in a mall have outgoings to pay so they can't afford to be too generous with low prices. Usually the people that need repaired furniture also need that lowered price.  

So is it just a boutique for pre-loved items for better-off people? I guess I can see a sort of function for such a mall and I do hope they take off everywhere and are always supported by local government, state government, and even federal government. 

Aside from the obvious benefit of recycling furniture and keeping it out of the waste stream, it does provide employment, and in the local charity opp shops in my area at least, provide a generally close and friendly social work environment for people who may have difficulty entering the workforce.

I hope that any similar concept malls will ensure that they can operate with economy, accept a large workforce, and that mall management can step in occasionally and can apply a small discount for a shop holder's rent if they provide cheaper priced items for someone truly struggling that needs them. 

Algae Blooming Algae

Seaweed and feet again. . . Still cool uses of these little powerhouse algae. Also - I'd rather have a neobioplastic (I sooo wanna copyright/trademark that word...) than a thanatobioplastic (and this one! ...) to decompose after a product reaches the end of its lifespan. 

Such dense foam materials can be used in a variety of purposes other than just footwear, and between algae based and mycelium based materials we have a very good case for kicking polystyrene foam (tradename Styrofoam) to the kerb as a packaging material. 

Also there's an opportunity for some enterprising souls to make molded shock-absorbing packaging from cardboard and paper papiér-maché packing. These days you can make 3D printing stock material from something like polypropylene (PP) and making hard molds custom-fitted for items and stamp out papiér-maché packaging. Does this give anyone any ideas? Hmmm... 

Intermezzo #1:

Om Nom Nom popcorn! See you next week!

Season 2

Business Insider World Wide Waste series season 2

Plastic Bricks

I saw this almost a year ago and was impressed at the enterprise and had my few thoughts. Unfortunately (and unavoidably) the process releases fumes because the plastics are heated to very high temperatures, and there should really be a huge charcoal filter to draw those fumes out of the air. But as the purpose is to nail down plastic that would otherwise be in landfill . . .

. . . and yeah, there you have the other issue - it's still being disposed of in landfills, just right on the surface not buried. As mentioned in the article, this is not the ideal solution as abrasion from vehicle tyres still creates microplastics, there's one more ray of light on the horizon: electric vehicles are a bit lighter on roads than fossil fuelled vehicles because light weight equals more range out of a given battery capacity - and EV manufacturers really want to alleviate range anxiety

So a mixed thing for me. Combine their materials (prepared with lower temperatures so it's not so toxic) with Precious Plastics' sheet press and you could create a very durable flooring material for foot traffic areas. Tempting, anyone? 

Butte toxic lake, waste rock, remediation

This comprises two episodes, one focusing on the birds and one on Butte itself. As they're part and parcel related I've lumped them together in this entry.

The lake produces a small tourist income, yep. But it comes at the expense of continuously exposing migrating birds to sulfuric acid, and not on actually remediating the lake or the town as the mining company should. It's just a sop, an appearance of doing something

The town is built on 'waste rock' which is poisoning the soil, and covered in half a metre of soil - why not force the company to strip back the topsoil, put the waste rock into the lake to slowly fill it up over a decade or two? And then properly fix the soil this time? 

And while you're at it, all that recovered, mixed, and not useful for precision applications plastic from a few episodes back - why not use them to make a series of cylinders the size of 200L (44gal) drums, and float those on the surface of the lake to scare birds off? 

Then as you tip more rock in, the drums get confined to a smaller and smaller area and finally you break them up and burn them for energy.

The important thing to realise is that if the people minding that lake had a different guaranteed income such as a Universal Basic Income (UBI) they'd still come there because they enjoy it. 

Also know that if  Arco (the current owner of the Anaconda mine property) were to really pay for real remediations  they'd be circling bankruptcy and trying to pay almost as much as the mine's profits over its entire operation.

We need to start realising that money is at its basis a fiction, and worth nothing in the face of the disasters we're about to encounter. 

Vegan Leather.

They call this great material 'leather' but it's better than leather, it deserves a better name. And to see it with stamped-on snakeskin or alligator embossing seems depressing. Instead of 'leather' maybe find a unique name like 'appeel' (- heck, come on! People got away with the name naugahide for heaven's sake -) and pattern it to look unique and new. Make it stand out. 

This material needs to be more publicised. Ask any alligator or snake. 

Plastic Bag Kicks

This does get soft (LDPE, Low Density PolyEthylene) out of the waste stream. For a while, until the shoes are thrown out. Which is better than a blowing wasteland of discarded plastic bags. 

Also good is that they use a polyester canvas made from PET bottles for the uppers. So is the fact that even if the shoe has to be recycled it's now a dense mass of LDPE and PET rather than paper-thin sheets and bottles.

One thing that's a bit less appealing is that trend I've mentioned already, to embed seeds in everything and call it green when in fact in some ecosystems it could become an invasive weed. I wish they'd stop doing this. . .

Wind Turbine Recycling

Wind turbine blades are, as admitted in this episode, only going to form 1% of waste in another decade or so. And now comes a tentative nibble at some of the larger issues, as alluded to in my very early sidetrack.

Firstly, we need to need less energy. That's problematic already and only going to get worse as we transition to electric transportation and as global temperatures necessitate more cooling but with some new technology on the horizon, it's going to be attainable.

Secondly, There are a couple of other uses for these blades than just burning them for energy and two are shown, but the internal details of these blades wouldn't be common knowledge, which might account for there not being more uses for them. 

Just in the few seconds here I thought of two, three, or four identical blades set vertically in foundations and supporting something like an observation platform over a wildlife park or natural scene.

Or (wild idea being thrown out here) three, arrange in a teepee formation and skinned with recycled plastic panels and recycled wood interior, use it as the tourist centre at a wind or solar farm or some recycling operation. Great publicity! 

Recycled Polystyrene

It's a dangerous plastic as it's toxic when burned or overheated and is flammable, but I'd rather see it in solid chunks than lightweight fluffy packaging (SINGLE USE!) and insulation. (Which it's good at but not the ideal solution.)

It can be broken down by mealworms into - well, mealworm poo - which is safe to use as a soil for crops. A pseudomonas type bacterium can convert styrene oil into a biodegradable plastic. So it can be broken down.

It produces horrible smoke when burned and it catches fire easily. It melts just above about the boiling point of water. 

In dense (unexpanded) form it is sometimes used to make plastic cutlery and yoghurt tubs and similar, but with the low Tg (Glass Transition Temperature aka softening/melting point) I might prefer other cutlery. And anyway - disposable convenient cutlery is bad. Right? 

I also remember that I had several plastic models as a kid that were made from PS and the glue was horrible stuff that gave me headaches unless I kept a window open. 

So these guys might just be the saviours of the Revell model lineup...  

Lavender Soil Rehabilitation

Lavender is a cash crop that grows in poor soils, but so does mallow. And I realise that (given how we still believe that money and 'the economy' are important) making some income from the remediation seems to be important, but believe me, it isn't. 

That's why I can see that growing a culinary product in polluted soil seems to be the only way out of this, but perhaps there's a clever dodge going on here.

The mining company is held responsible for the remediations. And for damages arising. But they've now seemingly offloaded some of that responsibility to the organisation in this episode. 

And the lavender must be drawing out toxins and metals from the soil. Since the plants can't magically make that disappear, it's still in them.

Then parts get sold as essential extracts and culinary herbs. When the inevitable poisonings and issues arise from ingesting all of that, who is now responsible for damages? The original mining company, or the people that are selling the product?

The trouble with this scenario is that it seems far-fetched and Machiavellian. Until you look at the track records of big corporations . . .

Refrigerator Recovery

It's another good effort. Cleanly draining refrigerants is - well, to do anything else would be beyond just common criminl and into super-villain level crime. So identifying the gases and sending them to be destroyed if they're CFC based and re-using them if they're still legal to use, is a good way to deal with this toxin. 

The description of how the illegal gases are destroyed, also points out how enough energy can disassemble anything. Remember this whenever someone says that a particular material is too difficult to neutralise and decompose quickly. 

Energy is becoming cheaper and cheaper both in monetary and environmental terms, and there are now also technologies that promise to deal with the heat problem. Go to the footnote and subscribe to the newsletter for the article that I'm currently researching about this. 

The inslulation. Powdered, it can probably be put in road mix just as much as any other plastics can. Failing that, it too is susceptible to large amounts of energy to burn it back to base elements.

Shampoo Bars

Shampoo bars are a good idea. That is all. Think how many shampoo bottles hit the waste stream every day, and while those may be HDPE and LDPE (High Density PolyEthylene and Low Density PolyEthylene) and very recyclable, it's still another waste to corral and wrangle, so shampoo bars in paper packaging are a good direction.

Carbon Tiles

As I watched this I realised that here was a thing that at its basis went back to artisans thousands of years ago - when having a tiled floor was a symbol of wealth, a useful way to prevent the soil under where you lived from shifting, and a more easy to clean floor.

These tiles don't need kiln firing but instead use a press and water curing process. That alone means they are eco-friendlier than ceramic tiles that do need firing.

And I wish large companies making ceramic tiles would undertake to make such tiles - but without the inevitable shortcuts those large companies make, without themselves becoming a source of pollution.

And I wish people understood that such flooring isn't a given, and isn't even necessary. I'm also thinking that waste-consuming technologies like those plastic/sand pavers should be developed into a system for making tile flooring that can be used in houses in place of the tons of environment-damaging concrete.

Think about this: Laminated wooden flooring is better for forests and the environment, yes. But it's made with epoxies and resins that aren't as friendly. And of course you're again skating that thin line between durability and decompose-ability. 

So more projects like this please. 

Food Waste Compost

All food waste recovering systems are good in my book. The only thing better than turning food into compost and/or biogas is if the food is caught at the stage before it becomes unfit for consumption and given away / distributed / turned into a more durable food product that can be distributed to those in need. Go for it!

Cigarette Butt Re-use

Here's a thing that's kind of cool. The gathering of cigarette butts for the filters which are then cleaned and made into a fluffy filling for teddy bears and soft toys.

But as that item says, the filters contain heavy metals. I'd want to know for sure that they were really really clean before I bought one of the teddies but there's so much more that gets recycled from a simple cigarette butt that it's an eye-opener.

The paper, still having nicotine in it, is turned into mosquito repellent sheets and I think I'd prefer that to malaria or dengue fever so this too is a brilliant adaptation to get every bit of use out of the resource.

It's all a good and fairly thorough use of every part of the resource, and all production operations could learn something from small operations that are this thorough.

Luxury Plastic Bags

This goes right up there with the plastic bag kicks and general plastic recycling. Anything we can divert from the waste stream until technology and energy come up to the point where we can decompose the plastics back to base elements, is good. 

Also, just like the ring-pull bags, they allow a story to be told, an awareness to be created. Keep the processes clean, keep up jobs, and make sure people that buy them come away impressed at how much can be done with the things that we currently, thoughtlessly, throw away.

Christmas Trees

Every year a sizeable portion of the world's population holds a religious festival that I reckon causes more pollution in a few weeks than we make for the next six months. (BTW I'd welcome anyone that has figures for this to contact me. Use the Contact Me link just a short way down in the footer and let me know.)

Knowing that the trees that are grown specifically for this festival and then become waste, this use of them is a bittersweet thing. It's lovely that they end up naturally decomposing back into the ecosystem and providing shoreline stabilisation as well. Also, these live trees still have a smaller carbon footprint than plastic trees.

And I realise that the trainee pilots would probably fly just as many hours on exercises as they do when using the trees for practice, so I'm okay with it because it repurposes two things, pilot time and ritual objects. 

EV Batteries

This is actually one of the episodes I had the most issue with. Car batteries were an issue - once. Then the industry realised what an almighty muckup lead actually was, and within a few years lead became one of the most recycled resources on the planet. 

Mild prevarications aside, the out and out scaremongering: ". . . and sometimes . . . . . . . . lithium batteries . . . explode . . ." has to be one of the most cringeworthy things that I've ever seen. Even when the series was aired, the problems had been mostly ironed out, and - especially in the EV battery industry - it became a non-factor in buying an EV. 

The company being profiled in this episode could have possibly done a bit more towards actually recovering lithium from the batteries, but okay - there's still more research than actual lithium recovery going on, and it's still early days. 

The video also shows people manually opening an EV battery pack and implies that EV battery packs are that difficult to recyle - but most often these aren't opened like that for scrapping, but for possible reconditioning. I'd rather see battery packs recycled by hand because it'll lead to more of the materials being recovered.

And in any case, EV batteries aren't a huge component of the battery waste stream. Worldwide only 9% of Lithium Ion Batteries ("LIBs") get recycled and the rest go to landfill, and almost 100% of these LIBs are cellphone, power tool, laptop, and similar devices' batteries. 

EV battery packs still aren't so commonplace that they just get thrown out wholesale, because as mentioned a few paragraphs back they can be reconditioned, and of most battery packs only a relatively small number of cells are faulty so EV packs are still treated as a valuable resource.  

Also before I close this segment I'd like to mention home solar batteries, which are also starting to enter the battery waste stream. We do need more research into recovering the elements of LIBs.

Summary

There were a few cons - as in conniving, 'con-artist' and not contra - in the series. I counted about half a dozen of those, and suggest we make the best of those by using them to disseminate information about sustainability, cradle to cradle circular materials management, and recovery.

Several more were well-intentioned but poorly executed and/or generated almost as many problems as they solved.

Rather a lot of the enterprises were hampered because no corporation or government wants to chip in and help grow them, and sometimes that's just general inertia but sometimes it's because to admit there was a problem would also mean having people make the connection that that particular governmet or corporation is responsible for the issue being recycled, and they are the kinds of eco-disasters that come with lawsuits and class actions attached...

There are as I've mentioned a range of technologies now being developed and available for managing heating and energy in sustainable ways. Our task is to balance these in ways that do the least damage to the planet and restore as much as possible of it. But to keep in mind that proper and specifically targeted application of energy is a solution to many of the issues developed in these three articles. 

Being Earthlings and Stewards of the planet

Using the term 'family' in taxonomy (as in referring to 'the algae family' earlier on) should tell us something - we're not humans and apes and monkeys and fungii and lichens and trees etc - we're EARTHLINGS and we need to start thinking about ourselves in that light - pretty much right now.

If we'd never lost that sense of stewardship due to 'convenience' and economy, our planet and our extended family would never have gotten into the state it's in now. Economy of our efforts (== 'convenience' ) made survival sense in the past but no longer does. 

We need to have less 'convenience' and pay far more for what convenience we do have. But see this next paragraph or two.

UBI (Universal Basic Income)

Maintaining 'wealth' was a good survival buffer but again it makes no sense in the current era. Keeping that wealth from 'subclasses' may have made sense when masses of rapidly breeding people had no access to education and had to be controlled, but in this day and age, education (which IS now available thanks to online video and lessons and freely available) should now be available to all.

(IDEA: Maybe instead of that much-vaunted 'social credit' or 'carbon credit' as a world currency should be also include 'education credit'  and be capped at some sensible level.)

The point is that if we shared things the least bit equitably, almost everyone on the planet could live well enough. The 'Middle Class' deomgraphic that came about last century and the century before, are now only one step up the wealth ladder from homeless refugees and in fact a few of the middle class will also become climate refugees in a really short time frame. 

As far as that goes a UBI could become a given in under a month- as long as everyone got one. Including people right at the top, the 1% of the 1% that own 80% of the wealth of the planet. You can see where the problem is going to lie, can't you? 

So-called "eating the rich" doesn't mean cannibalisation. It means persuading or legislating those with the wealth to redistribute it. There's a growing trend among billionaires to give most of their wealth away, and this is a good thing and a bad thing. 

Footnote:

In addition to writing these articles I'm also experimenting with ways of recycling waste that can be done at the cottage industry or community hub levels, not so much because it'll magically convert 100% of local waste into recycled useful articles, but because people who are doing these sorts of activities are likely to talk about them to people in their community, and so raise even more awareness of the issues and dangers.

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