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Auckland Inorganic Collections

As part of its 10-year budget, Auckland Council is funding a new region-wide inorganic collection service that will mean Auckland can reuse and recycle as many items as possible.

From September, the new inorganic service will be annual and will need to be booked in advance. Items will be collected from within your property. 

How the new system will work:
1. We’ll send you a flyer when it’s time to book your inorganic collection.
2. If you have items you want collected, book a collection on our website, call us or visit a service centre.
3. We’ll let you know when the items will be picked up.
4. We’ll pick up the items from your property, diverting as much as we can for re-use and recycling. You can put out one cubic metre of material – about as much as a small trailer load.

The new system is a key part of Auckland Council’s Waste Management and Minimisation Plan, which was adopted after consultation in 2011 and 2012.

It will help give people’s trash a new life as treasure. Instead of going to landfill, items like your old bike, fridge or furniture will be diverted to charities and a developing network of community recycling centres.

This will be better for the community and the environment, and will help Auckland achieve its aspirational goal of zero waste by 2040.

Visit our inorganic rubbish page to find out more.


Air travel is terrible for the environment. Can new tech change that?

What is ewaste?
The term ‘ewaste’ encompasses all old electrical appliances either in a state of disrepair or simply obsolete. This includes everything from fridges and microwaves to mobile phones and computers. The correct disposal of ewaste is of vital importance to being able to achieve a sustainable future.


What's good for vacation relaxation is terrible for the environment. Photo / Dean Purcell
carbon dioxide per passenger, as much as the average Nepalese family generates in five years. A Prius would have to travel 10,500 miles to have the same carbon impact.

Yet even those who want, urgently, to fight global warming have been slow to deal with the impact of air travel. Think of those high-profile do-gooders who flew 550 private jets to confab at Davos about carbon dioxide levels in January.

The Environmental Protection Agency only just declared that air travel contributes to global warming and that it will begin regulating greenhouse emissions by carriers under the Clean Air Act.

Why, when car travel is perennially in the hot seat, has this issue gotten so little attention? We’ve got electric cars, smaller cars, cars with great gas mileage. Why haven’t we seen the same technological evolution with planes?

The answer is that airplanes pose a fundamentally different engineering problem. They have to do work to carry their fuel through the air, so are limited by the energy density of the storage medium. Increasing efficiency of aircraft engines and wings will help, but only to a point.

Watch: Solar plane completes 6th leg around globe


And a lot of the “easy” fixes have been made. Companies like Boeing and Airbus have been working for five decades to build planes that burn less fuel, innovating materials and making computer-aided tweaks to aerodynamic design.

They’ve increased use of strong, lightweight materials like carbon fiber laminates that now make up more than 50 per cent of a modern passenger jet’s airframe. They also developed sophisticated turbofan engines that are significantly more efficient than older models.

Their newest aircraft (released in 2000) use half as much fuel per mile as the jets of a half-century ago (Cars and SUVs are about 40 per cent more efficient today.) And engineers say there are few fixes left. “The present technology is already highly optimised,” says writer and aircraft designer Peter Garrison. “The low-hanging fruit has been plucked.”

Solar-powered planes

An alternative idea would be to write off conventional technology as a dead-end, and instead invest in radical approaches like solar-powered aircraft. The topic has been in the news lately, thanks to the photovoltaic-encrusted experimental plane Solar Impulse. The plane, currently in Japan, is part of a 12-year project by Swiss adventurers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, who want to fly around the world. If successful, the plane is expected to return to its starting point in Abu Dhabi in August.

If you squint, it’s easy to see in Solar Impulse the dawn of the eco-friendly airliner. With four engines and wings as broad as a 747’s, it physically resembles a commercial aircraft. But appearances deceive. To achieve its long-distance flights, Sunseeker not only uses advanced materials and design techniques, it also relies on extreme design choices.

It is extremely light: At just 5,000 pounds, the 70-foot-long aircraft weighs less than a Chevy Avalanche. A fully laden 737, on the small side for a commercial jet, weighs about 150,000 lb or 30 times more than Solar Impulse. In order to carry the additional weight of passengers and their baggage, a commercial airliner built using the same technology would have to be impractically enormous.

Slow and uncomfortable

It would also be bare of all familiar amenities. To save energy, Solar Impulse is neither pressurised nor climate controlled, so that temperatures in the tiny cockpit swing between 86 F and -4 F.

And it is slow. Solar Impulse cruises at a languid 56 mph, about one-tenth the speed of a typical commercial jet. The reason is simple aerodynamics. As it flies, a plane disrupts the air it moves through, and this takes power. The faster it goes, the more power it will consume.

Very efficient airplanes, like gliders or human-powered airplanes, have long, thin wings designed to move slowly through the air. That’s appealing for aeronautical engineers, but not to travelers on tight schedules. To get from Hawaii to Arizona for the eighth stage of its round-the-world journey Solar Impulse will require more than four days of continuous flight.

Really, the only way for commercial aviation to become green would be for science to come up with a storage medium that’s as energy dense as fossil fuel, but that doesn’t release net carbon into the atmosphere. Someday, our descendants may find out a way to build super-batteries that can be charged using renewable energy sources or nuclear power.

Bio fuel

At present, however, the only technology that fits the bill is bio fuel: a hydrocarbon energy source that we make in the here-and-now, whether from crops or from recycled cooking oil and animal fats.

Last year, aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Embraer teamed up to open a biofuel research centre in Brazil that will promote the development of sustainable aviation fuel. In December, Boeing carried out the first test flight of a 787 Dreamliner using “green diesel.” So far, this kind effort represents baby steps: the Dreamliner flight used just a 15 per cent blend of green diesel with 85 per cent conventionally derived fuel, and that only in one of its two engines.

One problem with using higher percentages than that is that biofuel tends to freeze at typical airliner cruising altitudes. It’s also more difficult to store, and can damage engine parts. We’re a long way from running the world airline fleet on the stuff.

So as you sling your beach duffel into the overhead bin in the summer, know that your fun in the sun this year will unavoidably play a role in making next’s years summer even summerier. If you want to minimise your carbon footprint, there’s really only one option.

Just ask Slate writer Eric Holthaus. He’s come up with an effective strategy – one that allowed him, he writes, to go “from having more than double the carbon footprint as the average American to about 30 per cent less than average.” His trick? He gave up his 75,000-mile-a-year travel habit cold turkey. “This has to be the last flight I ever take,” he tweeted as he boarded a plane last year. “I’m committing right now to stop flying.”

Wise is a New York-based magazine writer and author of the The Plane That Wasn’t There: Why We Haven’t Found MH370 and Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger.

Washington Post


Racing towards mass extinction

Habitat loss and climate change mean species disappearing 100 times faster than normal, study shows.
The Amur leopard is the world's rarest cat and remains at risk from hunters. Photo / AP
The Amur leopard is the world’s rarest cat and remains at risk from hunters. Photo / AP

Earth has entered its sixth mass extinction with animals dying out at 100 times the normal rate, scientists have warned.

Humans have created a toxic mix of habitat loss, pollution and climate change, which has led to the loss of at least 77 species of mammals, 140 types of bird and 34 amphibians since 1500 including the dodo, Steller’s sea cow, the Falkland Islands wolf, the quagga, the Formosan clouded leopard, the Atlas bear, the Caspian tiger and the Cape lion.

Scientists at Stanford University in the United States claim it is the biggest loss of species since the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction which wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

“Without any significant doubt we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event,” said Professor Paul Ehrlich, at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

“Species are disappearing up to about 100 times faster than the normal rate between mass extinctions, known as the background rate.

“Our calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis. There are examples of species all over the world that are essentially the walking dead.”

Using fossil records and extinction counts from a range of sources, the researchers calculated the normal “background rate” of extinctions and compared it with a conservative estimate of present extinctions. Natural population changes in the wild usually lead to two species of mammals dying out every 10,000 years. But the rate is 114 times that level.

Humans have been responsible for animal decline going much further back. In the islands of tropical Oceania, up to 1800 bird species are estimated to have gone extinct in the last 2000 years. It is likely that early humans were also responsible for wiping out the huge megafauna which used to live in Australia including a giant wombat, a marsupial lion, and a flesh-eating kangaroo.

One in four mammals is at risk of going extinct and 41 per cent of amphibians. Many now only survive in captivity.

“If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on,” said lead author Gerardo Ceballos, of the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico.

Ehrlich said governments must start working together to conserve threatened species. Despite the gloomy outlook, there is a meaningful way forward, according to Ehrlich and his colleagues.

“Avoiding a true sixth mass extinction will require rapid, greatly intensified efforts to conserve already threatened species, and to alleviate pressures on their populations – notably habitat loss, over-exploitation for economic gain and climate change,” write the authors of the study, which was published in the journal Science Advances.

10 of the planet’s most endangered species

1 South China tiger
Native to the southern Chinese provinces of Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan and Jiangxi the tiger had a population of 4000 in the 1950s but is now thought to only exist in zoos.

2 Sumatran elephant
As more of Sumatra’s forest becomes converted for agriculture, the elephant has faced a critical loss of habitat. A 2007 study estimated there were less than 2800 remaining in the wild.

3 Amur leopard
The world’s rarest cat is believed to be making a comeback with at least 57 confirmed animals in Russia. Just 30 animals existed in 2007. But the animal is still vulnerable to hunters.

4 Atlantic goliath grouper
Despite the US issuing a moratorium on hunting the big fish in 1990, the animal remains critically endangered.

5 Gulf porpoise
The Gulf porpoise is now one of the rarest mammals in the world, with a global population estimated at under 100 in 2014. The last remaining porpoises live in North America’s Gulf of California and experts expect it to become extinct by 2018.

6 Northern bald ibis
The bird’s natural habitat of North Africa, European and the Middle East has been plagued with war and civil unrest and now only one population exists in Morocco, with just a few hundred remaining. Attempts are under way in Austria, Spain and Italy to breed the animals for reintroduction into the wild.

7 Hawksbill turtle
The 20,000 strong female population is under threat by hunters seeking their brown and gold shells.

8 Black rhinoceros
The black rhino has suffered the most drastic decline in total numbers of all rhino species and was officially declared extinct in the wild in 2011. However, a major conservation effort has seen numbers swell to 5000 and now the animals are kept under armed guard.

9 Pygmy three-toed sloth
Found on Panama’s uninhabited Escudo de Veraguas island, a 2012 study found fewer than 80 sloths were still living because of habitat loss by loggers.

10 Chinese pangolin
Used extensively as a food, and for Chinese medicines, the pangolin has declined by 94 per cent since the 1960s. Numbers have been hard to estimate as the creature is nocturnal and solitary.

The 5 mass extinctions

•83 per cent of sea life wiped out in Ordovician-Silurian mass extinction 443 million years ago.
•In the Late Devonian mass extinction, which followed 90 million years later, three quarters of life on Earth became extinct.
•The Permian mass extinction of 248 million years ago was nicknamed The Great Dying as 96 per cent of species died out.
•48 million years later, half of all species were wiped out by climate change and asteroid impacts.
•The final one marked the end of the dinosaurs

Daily Telegraph UK



date: 12 August 201513 August 2015
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New approach to extracting indium from LCD screens

China: Scientists at Tsinghua University’s School of Environment in Beijing say they are closing in on a new method to recover indium from used liquid crystal display (LCD) screens.

For the past 18 months, the team has been exploring crushing and grinding methods that have yielded LCD glass particles of less than 75 micrometres in size. These were then soaked in a sulphuric acid solution at a temperature of 50°C.

‘We found that the leaching process could largely modify the raw material and enhance its activation for further recovery,’ the group declares in the ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering journal. ‘All the obtained results and findings could contribute to affording a closed-loop recycling process for waste LCDs and sustainable development of indium industries.’

They argue that the recycling of LCD screens is quickly becoming a ‘hot issue’, not least because indium deposits are expected to reach a dangerously low level just 20 years from now. Meanwhile, up to 100 million LCD screens are expected to be thrown away between 2014 and 2020.

China recycled 1.3 million tonnes – or 28% – of its e-scrap via ‘authorised’ channels in 2013, according to a recent report by the United Nations University. E-scrap generation in the whole of Asia totalled 16 million tonnes last year, with China ranking first on 6 million tonnes.


Is this the end of e-scrap as we know it?

United States: E-scrap may literally have a green lining now that a research team in the USA is developing a semiconductor chip made almost entirely of wood.

The ultra-thin green chips with wood-derived substrate are said to mirror the performance of existing ones, according to electrical and computer engineering specialist Dr Zhenqiang Ma of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He believes that the flexibility of the technology can lead to ‘widespread adoption’ of the chips.

This ecological approach could have a big impact on what is consigned to landfills every year, Ma stresses. Another benefit is that the new process ‘greatly reduces’ the use of expensive and potentially toxic materials. ‘Now the chips are so safe you can put them in the forest and fungus will degrade them – they become as safe as fertilizer,’ he points out.

His research team is currently in talks with a US start-up company to explore how best to commercialise the concept.



Plastics in space: the recycling chapter

Global: NASA has selected Tethers Unlimited for a partner in its Small Business Innovation Research Program, which will see the latter develop a ‘Positrusion’ recycling system for the International Space Station (ISS).

Tethers Unlimited’s patent-pending system will effectively convert plastic waste into high-quality 3D printer filament for use in making tools, replacement parts and satellite components on board the ISS. The recycling solution is based on novel techniques that produce filament with ‘a much more consistent diameter and density than traditional extrusion processes’, explains Jesse Cushing, Tethers’ principal investigator for the project. ‘For a recycler to be useful on the ISS, it has to meet stringent safety requirements, and its design needs to minimise the amount of time an astronaut must spend operating it,’ comments Jeffrey Slostad, Tethers’ chief engineer. The hi-tech apparatus is ‘as simple to operate as a microwave oven’, he adds. The Positrusion system is also said to have ‘significant potential’ for use in recycling plastic waste in the consumer market.


Boost ahead for plastic bottle recycling

Global: Analysts at Technavio have forecast that the global recycling market for plastic bottles will experience a compound annual growth rate of 3.9% over the period from 2014 to 2019.

‘The plastic bottle recycle market is picking up pace and is expected to grow at a steady rate in the near future, boosted by the increasing dThe plastic boemand for recycled plastic bottles and growing environmental concerns,’ states the company.

This ‘in-depth market analysis’ from Technavio is based on inputs from industry experts. The report covers the present situation as well as growth prospects, including segmentation of the market based on type of plastic bottle recycled. It also incorporates information on the key vendors operating in the market including, for example, Avangard Innovative, UltrePET and Phoenix Technologies International.